Category Archives: 1990

#43: Spindizzy Worlds

Iain wrote this one.


December 1990 – Spindizzy Worlds

Often in AAA’s story, developments in exploiting technology and developments in gameplay go hand in hand. Populous started off as a a demo of a way of moving individual nodes in a fixed-view 3D landscape up or down. We’re but a couple of entries from the Lemmings era, and that started off as a demo of large numbers of figures walking across the screen. Their creators added and developed complications and stories to take them well beyond those starting points, though. What if they hadn’t?

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Posted by on March 29, 2016 in 1990, Amiga


#42: Golden Axe


November 1990 – Golden Axe

In the latest of her “Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games” series, Anita Sarkeesian examined what she refers to as “strategic butt covering” – the tendency for games to emphasise the buttocks of female characters as if they are the most important aspect of the character, while going to absurd lengths to avoid doing the same with male characters – and concluded that the solution is not for games to pay more attention to the essential, Male Ass, but in fact to try avoiding the objectification of their women as well as their men. Golden Axe provides a vision of a world that takes the alternative view. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 22, 2016 in 1990, Mega Drive


#41: The Secret of Monkey Island


October 1990 – The Secret of Monkey Island

The Secret of Monkey Island is a point-and-click graphic adventure game about the misadventures of wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood, widely and correctly hailed as one of the absolute pinnacles of the genre. It is also, rather pointedly, absolutely hilarious. Before writing this post, I played the game through to completion again, for probably like the tenth time in my life, and I still found new jokes that I don’t remember seeing before. It’s not just that it has a few funny moments scattered through its storyline. This script is so packed full of hilarity that they can hide away some absolutely stellar material behind obscure actions and dialogue choices knowing that most players will probably never see it.

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Posted by on March 15, 2016 in 1990, Amiga, Monkey Island


#40: Super Mario Land


September 1990 – Super Mario Land

From a modern perspective, there’s a distinct oddness to Super Mario Land. Things don’t quite behave the way you expect them to. Everything is just a little bit off. Koopas explode like they’re Bob-ombs; 1UPs are represented by hearts instead of differently coloured mushrooms; collecting a star does grant you invincibility, but it plays the Infernal Gallop instead of the usual invincibility tune; and most bizarrely of all, in two of its twelve levels, Super Mario Land stops being a Mario game altogether and turns into a side-scrolling shooter instead. But taken in the context of its own time, as players in 1990 could not help but do, this sense of unease is pretty thoroughly erased. Put simply, it was only the third Super Mario game to be released, and it couldn’t possibly be weirder than Super Mario Bros. 2.

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Posted by on March 8, 2016 in 1990, Game Boy, Mario


#39: Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles


August 1990 – Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles

My, how we all chortled. “Those stupid Americans! Don’t even know what a philosopher is!” But of course, there are silly marketing executives making their ridiculous changes on both sides of the Atlantic. And so, a decade or so before Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone took the States by storm, British kids were eagerly lapping up the televised adventures of the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Because the issue was never that American kids were too dumb to understand the term ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, any more than British kids were too dumb to know what a ninja is. The kids themselves played no real part in the process. No, the real issue was that someone, somewhere underestimated the ability of children to take in new information, to adapt to change. Or maybe ‘underestimated’ is the wrong word. Perhaps ‘feared’ is more appropriate. The idea that children might learn something outside of a state-approved curriculum is certainly a prospect that strikes fear into the hearts of some. Especially something like ‘ninja’. Something foreign. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 1, 2016 in 1990, NES


#38: Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off-Road


July 1990 – Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off-Road

We’ve covered three driving games now, and seen three different approaches. Out Run centred showed the car, driver and passenger and all, and focused on the experience of getting away through a beautiful landscape. Stunt Car Racer took things inside the car, and concentrated on the technical experience of driving. Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off-Road zooms right out to show four tiny trucks in a top-down view of a rugged single screen track. It’s about the experience of racing, of trying to wrangle your way ahead of your competitors.

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Posted by on February 23, 2016 in 1990, Amiga


#37: Tower of Babel


June 1990 – Tower of Babel

The turn of the ’90s was apparently a good time for sci-fi games, and Tower of Babel is another. It’s a puzzle game abstract enough that it definitely needs the manual to get its story, though. In brief: Humans decided to build a tower of, you know, biblical proportions. It caught the attention of aliens, who decided to send some robot spiders to help them, as you do. Most of the humans were frightened and gave flight. Some of them stayed and worked on the making the tower bigger still. Later, though, the humans got suspicious of these helpful immigrants with their knowledge and skills and their apparent loyalties elsewhere, and turned against them, setting up all kinds of barriers to their freedom to live and work. In comes the game, where, excellently, you play as the robots. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 16, 2016 in 1990, Amiga