As a kid growing up in the early to mid-90s, videogames were a huge part of my childhood. Like many kids from that time, I had a Game Boy and played it most often while away from home. However, there was one game I owned for the Game Boy that kept me playing whether I was at home or on the go: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. Link's Awakening was an important game for me growing up, taking the formula of A Link to the Past, one of my all-time favorite games, and condensing it to Game Boy form meant it was an automatic hit in my book. It also helped that a good friend of mine at that time was also playing the game, so we would often compare notes and help each other along throughout the game.
But wait! This isn't an article about Link's Awakening, so why am I spending so much time talking about it? Well, it has come to my attention recently that the topic of this article, a game by the name of For the Frog the Bell Tolls, and Link's Awakening have a lot in common. Specifically, both games share the same engine, so the aesthetic as well as certain gameplay mechanics are nearly identical between these two games. With Link's Awakening being a game that is so near and dear to me, I knew I had to check out For the Frog the Bell Tolls, so I bought an original Japanese Game Boy cartridge of the game and popped it into my Retron 5 complete with an English language translation patch so I could enjoy this adventure firsthand!
I love FMV (Full Motion Video) games, even though I understand that most of them are not really good games, as much as interesting relics of gaming's past. However, there are exceptions and Under a Killing Moon is one of them. You play Tex Murphy, a PI modeled after Spade and Marlowe that lives and works in a future vision of San Francisco. In this adventure, you take on a dangerous cult striving for genetic purification. For me, the Tex Murphy games are the pinnacle of FMV adventure with a combination of good writing, decent acting and a good dose of (intentional) humour.
Box art shamelessly stolen from MobyGames. It doesn't get much more iconic than seeing The Legend of Zelda in that stylized font, with the Triforce shield and Master Sword.
I was never a "Zelda kid" at all. I played a lot of NES games, because most of my friends had a NES console in their house, and as an introverted, geeky, chubby guy in the early 90's, gaming was the common escape I could share with my friends after school and on weekends. But since we played games together, we usually opted for games that either included 2-player cooperative modes, 2-player competitive modes, or some form of 2-player mode where you would take turns, such as Double Dragon or Super Mario Bros. 3. I occasionally dabbled in other genres when my friends fell asleep at 2 AM during a sleepover, but I usually just stuck with platformers, shooters, and action or puzzle games, because they were the kind of "pick up and play" games that I gravitated toward. For me, the very idea of The Legend of Zelda seemed foreign to me, because my idea of an adventure game was King's Quest, which I played obsessively on my family's home computer.
I have never considered myself to be primarily a PC gamer, but there was a time back in the late '90s and early 2000s when I did a considerable amount of gaming on the PC. During this time, I played such revered classics as Half-Life, Max Payne, and Deus Ex, all of which I would consider to be among my all-time favorites. Many excellent games were being released exclusively on PC, and when these titles were later ported to consoles, the results were often lackluster.
One such game from this era that I have always remembered fondly is Mafia. Releasing less than a year after the immensely popular Grand Theft Auto III, it may be easy to dismiss Mafia as a cheap knockoff. While Mafia may resemble the Grand Theft Auto series at first glance, I have always felt that it was the "anti-GTA" game. Although both games share similarities with their open-world environments, crime-based stories, and emphasis on driving and shooting gameplay mechanics, Mafia's more serious and less satirical tone, focus on realism, and larger emphasis on narrative rather than free roaming sandbox gameplay sets it apart from Rockstar's juggernaut.
The original Doom that was released back in 1993 was an extremely important landmark title in gaming. While not necessarily the first first-person-shooter to hit the market, it was definitely the game that popularized the genre. I have fond memories of playing Doom sometime back in the mid-90s on PC when I was less than the age of 10, with its gameplay and (at the time) mature content being unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Although the version I had only contained the first episode, I played through it multiple times, and it is still a game that I find myself going back to even today. After the Wolfenstein series got a great new entry with MachineGames' excellent Wolfenstein: The New Order, I was confident that id's other classic franchise would receive the same treatment when a new game in the Doom series, simply titled Doom, was shown at E3 2015. I was not disappointed. In fact, even after playing other highly acclaimed games from 2016 such as Uncharted 4 and Final Fantasy XV, I still feel like I enjoyed Doom enough to call it my Game of the Year for 2016.
Many longtime fans of the Final Fantasy series have lamented the direction Square has taken with their beloved franchise, forgoing the classic turn-based battle system (or rather the active-time battle system) in favor of a more action-oriented approach featuring real-time combat. While this rapid evolution of the series is no doubt an attempt by Square to garner new fans and compete with other AAA titles currently on the market, it has left some diehard fans feeling alienated and disinterested with the series. Enter World of Final Fantasy, a new title in the Final Fantasy series that harkens back to the games of old, featuring a slew of familiar characters and mechanics that should make any old-school fan of the series feel right at home.
Today I'm looking at one of gaming's lesser known mascots - Bonk! I review the original Bonk's Adventure on the TurboGrafx-16, as well as look at a bit of his history and the history of the console to explain why Bonk never made it big in North America like Mario or Sonic.
Box art scan shamelessly stolen from GameFAQs. Someone at Capcom USA should have been sacked for turning Firebrand into a green gargoyle instead of his signature crimson.
From time to time, video game companies see fit to tinker with their intellectual properties. This may be due to creative surges within the development teams wanting to try something new. Sometimes a dev team knows the formula within a given series has become stale or rote, and they feel the need to mix things up. There are examples where changing the formula has had resounding success, such as Konami's Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, as well as instances where this approach completely flopped, as was the case with Accolade's Bubsy 3D. Whatever the reason, creative minds generally need to branch out to do different things to keep things fresh and flex their creative muscle.
Such is the case with Gargoyle's Quest from Capcom. It's sort of an off-shoot of the Makai-Mura series, better known as Ghosts 'n Goblins, or Ghouls 'n Ghosts. In Japan, the game is known as Reddo Arima: Makai-Mura Gaiden, which can be roughly translated as Red Arremer: Demon World Village Side-Story. Rather than starring the main protagonist of the Ghosts/Ghouls series, Arthur, it actually stars the "red arremer" enemy from the original game known as Firebrand. Based on the game's plot, it could be seen as a prequel to the original game, which you find out at the end.
Most people know that I am a huge fan of the survival-horror genre, particularly the Resident Evil series, so I was immediately intrigued when The Evil Within was announced back in 2013. This was a brand new survival-horror IP directed by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, and it promised to bring the genre back to its survival roots rather than the action-oriented approach of more recent horror games. While I still enjoyed more recent horror titles that have been given the label of 'action-horror,' the prospect of a modern title that recaptures what made the old-school games so unique and interesting was exactly what survival-horror fans had been hoping for.
It's October, so it's time for spooky games. Phantasmagoria is a point and click horror adventure game by Sierra. It was controversial due to its depiction of graphic FMV gore and adult themes and became a best seller. But is it any good?
I remember seeing the box art for this game all the time when I was a kid. Though point and click adventure was a staple of my gaming history, I had never played this game before. I've always had a soft spot for FMV as well, though this wasn't quite what I was expecting.
Jaws was one of the August community playthroughs here at RFGen and it was the first time I had played this particular game. I have to say, it's a bit of an oddity. The majority of the gameplay is non-scrolling horizontal shooter, but there are a few different mechanics thrown in to change things up a bit. On paper, the game doesn't sound impressive - an LJN published tie-in to the fourth (and arguably worst) Jaws movie, Jaws: The Revenge. But how does it play?
Image shamelessly stolen from the Castlevania Wikia page. When I was a kid, this was the baddest looking box art in all the land when it came to Game Boy games. And by bad, I mean AWESOME.
Nostalgia can be a very powerful force. It can make adults look back fondly on all sorts of things that, viewed objectively, probably aren't as great as we remember them. For a child of the 80's, that can be almost anything. From VCRs and teased hair, to classic cartoons and our favorite movies and video games, there are times when it's hard to take a step back and look at those old favorites with a more critical eye. Sure, that one Poison album might be one of your favorites of all time, but musically, does it still hold up? What about your favorite childhood cartoon...could you watch it today without cringing or thinking it's nothing but pure cheese?
Now think about your favorite video games as a child. Sure, some of them probably stand the test of time. But for every Super Mario Bros or Contra, there's always a handful of games that we may still hold in high regard and still have much affection for. If we could set aside our own memories and youthful experiences, would we still hold those works in the same esteem? For me, one of those games is Konami's Castlevania: The Adventure on the Game Boy.
I want to take a brief break from my usual blogs about my store to talk about Mighty No. 9 now that I've had several weeks to take it all in. If this is something you'd be interested in reading about please click the link below. If not then we can't be friends......
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a fantastic game. At the time of this writing, I have put over one hundred and fifty hours into the game and I'm sporting a completion percentage of only 70%. I would write a full review of the game if it weren't for two things. First of all, I finished the story missions so long ago that some of them have blurred in my memory. Secondly, even if I did remember all the finer details, a comprehensive review would be more than I would be willing to take on. However, I was so excited to play this game upon release that I wrote my first blog post here about playing it with the rest of the world. Since it's almost been a full year since the game's release and that article, I wanted to talk about the game's lasting effects and why I am still playing it.
Compile is well known for making excellent shoot'em ups and of all the ones I've played, Gun-Nac is my favourite. This is not a game I played as a kid. I only tried it for the first time within the past year, but I was immediately hooked and I now consider it one of my favorites on the NES.
Aside from very solid controls and a variety of weapons and power-ups, the thing that stands out most is the amazing, somewhat bizarre, environments. Each stage has a theme that's a little different than your average shmup. In one, you battle sentient vegetables, while in another you're up against currency. Boss battles that include giant robot rabbits and Maneki Neko are a nice change from battling other spaceships.