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I am in the process of migrating the sight to new servers, so please be patient if you come here in the next few days and a link is broken or a picture doesn’t load quite right. All should be copasetic by Friday-ish.

New post coming before the new year. In the meantime and in-between time, play some games!

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Famicom Densetsu

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A few months ago I was asked to become a part of RetrowareTV.com and contribute a bi-weekly column. Since the breadth of my love for the Famicom knows no bounds, I decided to do a Famicom-centric series and try to build up a body of work that perhaps one day will serve to explain my love to Nintendo’s quirky 8-bit machine. Five articles in, and things are going fantastically. John, Lance, Norm and all the guys over at Retroware TV have been nothing but supportive and nurturing in their assistance and guidance.

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You may have heard me talk about Retroware TV before, because I have been a fan for a long time. I reviewed their season one DVD when it came out way back in 2008, and again with season 2 in 2009. They have frequently been a part of my old year in review posts (200820092010), so I think is pretty safe to say that I am bit of a super fan. I have number one of both the season 1 & 2 numbered DVDs, and I have the accompanying postcards framed in my game room.

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Basically what I am saying is that writing for RetrowareTV.com, actually being a member of the staff there, is pretty fantastic and a high I still have not come down from. So please head over there every second Monday and check out my babbling about obscure Japanese video games? While you’re at it, go everyday and read everyones articles… because the guys RWTV have assembled one of the most talented groups of retro video game writers this side of Telebunny/Gamespite.

Direct Link to my article series: http://retrowaretv.com/category/features/atrticles/famicom-densetsu/

Recent Finds and Deadly Gets

First things first, I have my very own zine coming out! It’s all about The Legend of Zelda series, specifically the older titles. Its called Second Quest and will be available as a free PDF download or you can help a brother out and buy a printed copy. The printed copies are $10.50 plus shipping and are full color! I just got a sample copy done up and it looks fantastic. It’s 28 pages and contains a bunch of new pieces I have written that are exclusive to the zine. You will be able to get it over at Hold Reset on December 21st, so I would be be stoked if you went over there then and downloaded it or bought a copy.

Now down to business  I have  been picking up video games here and there, and as of late I have not been focusing on any particular system. I have just been kind of jumping around and picking up some games that I have been putting off for reason or another. Without further ado…

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I picked up this copy of the fantastic little adventure game The Adventures of Willy Beamish for the Sega CD. I got this off of Ebay for a super low BIN, and I was half expecting to not get it. Early Sega CD games were packaged in an over sized cardboard box, and subsequently not many of these boxes have survived, and even fewer in as good of condition as this copy. Its a pretty cool little game, and if you are in that small cross-section of fans where Sega CD fans and adventure fans meet I suggest you pick it up.

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True, the version of The Adventures of Batman and Robin you REALLY want to get your hands on is the Super Nintendo version, but I got this for around $15 shipped, which is a pretty great price for this game. True to form of most licensed games from the late 80s and early 90s, the SNES and Sega CD versions are quite different from each other. Where as the SNES version is a tight little brawler, the Sega CD game is a run and gun style game. The game is as regarded for its excellent graphics as it is for its brutal difficulty. The choice of two player co-op softens the difficulty somewhat, but not nearly enough.

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Yeah, I know. I can’t believe I didn’t own this either. I got this copy of Super Double Dragon about a month ago and played through it the next next day. All I can say is “meh”. I suppose I may have built it up a bit too much- the prospect of a 16-bit Double Dragon beat’em up, but its not just that. The game just feels kind of clumsy. Maybe another replay will change my mind.

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I picked this copy of The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse for like $8 shipped on Ebay, which is a hell of a good price. Its a great little platformer, as you would expect from Capcom, but even with this SNES release you can see some of the magic draining from the super high standards of Capcom’s 8-bit Disney output. Still… a great game.

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Now this is one of the best games i have played in a while. Nosferatu is basically a modern day take on the story of Dracula that plays in the style of Prince of Persia. Brutally difficult but also vastly rewarding, Nosferatu is one of the best games for the Super Nintendo, and certainly doesn’t get near the credit or acclaim that it deserves.

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Picked up these 2 floppys for King’s Quest II at a thrift store for $0.69. Awesome!

20 Years of the Sega CD

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Monday Oct. 15th was the 20th Anniversary of the North American release of Sega’s much hyped Genesis CD add-on, the Sega CD. Due equally to the fact that no one in the gaming media (save for the almighty 1up.com) even bothered to mention this milestone, and that I am a huge fan of Sega’s much criticized CD add-on, I thought I would take some time to pay tribute to the Sega CD and its incredible and varied library of games.

Let me first get this out of the way… the Sega CD is so much more then the vehicle for awful full motion video games. Sure, there are numerous terrible full motion video games (Who Killed Johnny Rock, Fahrenheit 451, Make My Video series), a couple descent/mediocre titles (Sewer Shark, Night Trap, Double Switch, Time Gal), and at least one fantastic game (Mansion of Hidden Souls), but the Sega CD should be remembered for more then its failings. What about the great games? The games that didn’t abuse the novelty of cramming choppy video into a window a quarter the size of the TV screen.

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Many developers used the expanded capabilities of the new CD format to increase the on-screen color palette, incorporate a CD-quality score, and even dabble in character voice acting. These advances served to answer many of the primary complaints levelled at the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive), chiefly the murky sound and muddy graphics.

For the time era the SegaCD was released, North America got a surprising number of Japanese games, more of less in their pure Japanese form. Much of this was thanks to localization pioneers, who long before Atlus and Nippon Ichi filled the gap were serving up localizations from Japan done with care and respect. Working Designs was responsible for bring over such games as Lunar: The Silver Star and its much refined sequel Lunar: Eternal Blue, as well as Vay and the near-masterpiece action RPG Popful Mail.

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A few bigger Japanese companies took a chance localizing titles that were hits back home, most notable of these was the Konami published, Hideo Kojima master-minded digital comic/adventure game Snatcher. Relatively over looked upon release, with an estimated print run of 10,000 copies (or less, according to some sources), Snatcher has retroactively become a landmark game, after Hideo Kojima’s massively successful Metal Gear Solid series changed the face of gaming. A clever and superbly localized futuristic cyberpunk detective story, many of Kojima cinematic flourishes and grand video game hallmarks are evident in this early work; in fact, the entire final act of Snatcher is an extended 40 minute cutscene.

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The SegaCD was the home of what was probably the greatest arcade port in history with Capcom’s brilliant Final Fight CD. A meticulously refined port, Final Fight CD delivers the game that was promised on the SNES, but ultimately failed to deliver. About the only thing missing from the arcade version is the notoriously sleazy outfits of famed street brawling tranny Poison.

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The SegaCD also had several fantastic PC adventure game ports, including versions of Sierra Online/Dynamix’s The Adventures of Willy Beamish and Rise of the Dragon. Although plagued by infamously sluggish load times, the SegaCD port of LucasArts’ The Secret of Monkey Island is a worth while alternative to its PC brethren.

The SegaCD had it all; from puzzle games to platformers, from forgettable full motion video turds to truly innovative and daring titles worthy of a second look even today. You can say a lot about Sega’s wonderous CD ROM experiment,  but just make sure its not all bad.

As the title suggests, I have picked up a couple new retro arcade sticks as of late, as well as quite a few other bits of radness.

Here we have a Quick Shot NES arcade stick. When I got this thing it was so dirty and neglected that it looked like there was no possible way it could be in working order. A half hour and several ounces of windex later, this thing looks brand new. After clearing some unknown tar-like goo from behind the buttons and joystick, it plays like its brand new as well. I actually really like this arcade stick; it’s responsive and has suction cup feet that ground it perfectly while playing on a flat surface. A fantastic alternative to the NES Advantage.

The next arcade stick I found was one that I have been looking for for a VERY long time. I have managed to get two 3-button SEGA Genesis sticks in the wild, but the 6-button always eluded me. Until now. I have to say that I am slightly disappointed with the 6-button variation however- it just does not have the same build quality as the 3-button stick. None-the-less, I can now play Street Fighter 2: Special Champions Edition the way it was meant to be played (on the console, at least).

I found this at a local secondhand for for $6 and could not pass it up. The cartridge is in absolutely mint, pristine condition, and I actually didn’t have this game for NES. I have had the Famicom version for ages, but I felt Gradius’ historical significance alone merited its inclusion in my NES library- it being the first game to have the now famous Konami code built in. No matter which console you play this game on, it still rules.

My good friend Vince (who is also among the many co-conspirators on the Hold Reset fanzine) brought this back from the land of the rising sun recently. It’s a mini guide book for Final Fantasy VI. These guide books were put out by Square and were multi-part walk throughs. I already had 2 of the 3 from Final Fantasy III for Famicom, so I knew more or less what to expect. These mini-guides are not only incredibly detailed strategy guides, they also serve as art books as well and include tons of beautiful artwork by resident genius and Final Fantasy illustrator Yoshitaka Amano. I wish Square would extend this type of high quality product across the ocean to us once and a while.

More to come later this week, as well as some exciting announcements!

Part of the reason why I have not been around here so much lately is due to my involvement in a new fanzine called Hold Reset. It’s basically a collection of pieces written by different video game enthusiasts about awesome video games.

On October 1st we put out our premier issue (Issue Zero), and the responce thus far has been very positve. We are already hard at work on our second issue, and that is scheduled to be out on Dec. 1st.


I highly encourage you to head over to www.HoldReset.org and check it out for yourself. You can download the PDF for free or pay $6.50 and you’ll get a printed copy mailed out to you, stuffed into the envelope and mailed by yours truly.

Next week we get back to brass tax around here with plenty of pictures of and thoughts on old video games. Have a good weekend!

This weekend is Thanksgiving, and unlike our American friends to the south we Canadians don’t put nearly the same emphasis on the holiday. We also celebrate it a month earlier, but that’s beside the point. Sure, on Thanksgiving we still get together with our families and eat Turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie- but as a whole, the holiday holds much less weight. Christmas, celebrated religiously or not, has always been the holiday ’round these parts, as far as getting together with friends and family, grossly over-eating and generally grating on each others nerves.

Thanksgiving, you must understand, therefore places much, much lower on any Canadian child’s holiday list due to the fact that it is: a) not Christmas, and b) closely precedes Halloween. As such, I have very few childhood Thanksgivings that I really remember with any accuracy. They more blend together to make a fuzzy collage of relatives, cabbage rolls and general Turkey soaked happiness. Except for the one Thanksgiving, that is.


It was this weekend 22 years ago that would end up changing my life forever. I know that sounds fairly dramatic, but I certainly wouldn’t be writing this blog, or writing for the half of a dozen other websites and ‘zines I write for if not for that Thanksgiving. I probably would not be nearly as into older video games either, or who knows? Maybe I wouldn’t be into video game at all, although I find that kind of hard to envision.

On Thanksgiving weekend 1990, after months upon months of endless begging and pleading on my part, my parents finally caved and bought me a brand spanking new copy of The Legend of Zelda. How I managed to finagle a new Nintendo game for what, even in the US, is not considered a gift oriented holiday (black Friday not withstanding) I will never know.

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What I do know, is that my dad took me into the garage (where he had stashed the game after purchasing it at Consumers Distributing the day before) and presented me with the object of my obsession. I vividly remember opening the yellow plastic bag and staring at the shield-shaped piece of gold cartridge peeking at me through the die-cut box. I swear, up to that point it was the single most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I spent the remainder of that Thanksgiving Sunday in my basement, doing my best to power down Turkey and cabbage rolls, battling octoroks and avoiding relatives.

Over the next three weeks I played Zelda at every conceivable opportunity. With only the map and precious few hints included in the packaging of the game to guide me, and whatever issues of Nintendo Power I had laying around or could borrow from friends, I still managed to make it to the end of level 9 and defeat Ganon. I remember this so precisely because not only was “wrapping” (my neighbourhood-specific vernacular for beating a game) Zelda no small feat, but I also managed to do it on Halloween night after I got back from trick-or-treating, to the amazement of several of the neighbourhood kids in attendance.

Playing Zelda was a huge turning point in video gaming for me personally. Up until I played Zelda video games were one of my favorite pass times for sure, but they were always somewhat hollow experiences. They didn’t really stick with you when you put down the controller, not like Zelda did. I mean, the game saved! There was a piece of me left inside the cart, that was just waiting for me to come back to it. The year after I got Zelda I got my hands on a brand new game called Final Fantasy, and after that my world completely opened up. Video games became something all encompassing and totally engrossing; for me they became more than an amusement you popped quarters into at the corner store. This continued exponentially, culminating at the point where I now spend a large percentage of my spare time playing, and writing about video games- and for that, I will always be thankful.


Zelda map taken from ZeldaUniverse.net

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