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Category Archives: Series

#68: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

Iain wrote this one.

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January 1993 – Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

It’s an interesting time to be looking at a Nintendo portable game, in 2017 and less than a week before they Switch off the separation between portable and home console and try to consolidate the best of both. With Super Mario Land, we looked at a simulacrum of Mario whose appeal was in being at least that, on the go. At some point well in the future we’ll see the New Super Mario Bros. series elide the differences to be the same reliable nostalgia trip whatever you’re playing it on. But here is a is a game which is not port, not knock-off, but adaptation.

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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in 1993, Game Boy, Mario

 

#66: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

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November 1992 – Sonic the Hedgehog 2

but with the introduction of the spindash, Sonic 2 does away with all the buildup, and allows you to go from 0-60 in the blink of an eye. It’s an astonishingly bold statement of purpose, one that promises non-stop thrills the likes of which have never been seen. As I argued in the original Sonic post, that game was meticulously crafted to make the most of its limited opportunities for unrestrained speed by carefully doling them out at exactly the right moments to make them really stand out, but this sequel provides a compelling case for the alternative all killer no filler approach. Taking away the need for long stretches of runup before the big flashy set pieces like the loop-the-loops means they can be more densely packed into the levels, allowing for a much tighter construction, and yet Sonic 2’s levels actually go bigger and more sprawling than their predecessors. It’s a case of the game brazenly trying to have its cake and eat it too, and one which turns out, preposterously, to be a completely unreserved success. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in 1992, Mega Drive, Sonic the Hedgehog

 

#64: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

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September 1992 – The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Lately I have been getting really into the trading card game Magic the Gathering. Well, no, that sentence, while true, really doesn’t capture the extent to which Magic has taken up residence in my brain. Lately I have become completely obsessed with the trading card game Magic the Gathering. Not just playing it, though there has been plenty of that, but reading articles, watching videos, devouring any and all Magic-related content I can get my hands on. This is, of course, far from the first time some piece of pop culture has embedded itself in my subconscious, and all evidence suggests that it won’t be the last, that in time I will move onto something new, something different. But right now, this is where my head is at. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2017 in 1992, SNES, Zelda

 

#59: Super Mario World

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April 1992 – Super Mario World

What’s in a name? It could just as well have been titled Super Mario Bros. 4 (and indeed, in the original Japanese release, it was subtitled as such). But, somewhere along the way a decision was made that a new console meant a new naming scheme, a fresh start. It’s a decision that will be made many, many times over by various companies down the years; perhaps there is a fear that a large number at the end of the title might be seen as a barrier to entry for newcomers, or as an indication of a lack of creativity. Perhaps the shadow cast by Mario at this time was so huge that everyone just followed this decision in the hope of catching some lightning in a bottle, and then it just became the done thing. Whatever the reason, you don’t tend to to see game number suffixes reaching higher than about 5 (obvious exceptions aside). Many series graduating from the NES to the SNES went with tacking on the word “super” to the start of their titles and calling it a day, but that wasn’t really an option for Super Mario Bros., and so instead we have Super Mario World. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in 1992, Mario, SNES

 

#56: Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods

Iain wrote this one.

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January 1992 – Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods

Populous barely had an ending, even after 500 levels, and its narrative was more one of the principles of being a god than anything else. That offered potential for a sequel, perhaps, but Populous II is very much about the same things again. Amongst other things, that means questions of interactions and gradations of power. What’s a mob to a knight? What’s a knight to a god? (target practice for lightning bolts?) And, at the centre of its mechanisms, what’s a god to an non-believer? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2016 in 1992, Amiga, Populous

 

#54: Spellbound Dizzy

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November 1991 – Spellbound Dizzy

“It’s the biggest Dizzy game yet!” That’s how Spellbound Dizzy was advertised and sold. It’s not an inaccurate statement – the world of Spellbound Dizzy does indeed contain more screens to explore than any previous game in the series. What’s not addressed or acknowledged in that statement, though, is the question of whether there is anything of worth to be discovered in that exploration. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in 1991, Amiga, Dizzy

 

#53: Oh No! More Lemmings

Iain wrote this one.

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October 1991 – Oh No! More Lemmings

“Oh no!”, the high-pitched final words of one of the walking figures under your command, just before they blow themselves to smithereens. Not exactly a dignified end. Words of fear? Surprise? Resignation? Hard to tell through the digitised squeak, and maybe not so easy to think about in pixelised miniature, either. Cuteness can smuggle in horrors, serious ideas, and keep them hidden in plain sight until suddenly they aren’t. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in 1991, Amiga, Lemmings