Category Archives: 1991

#55: Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers



December 1991 – Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers

Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers is another licensed game, and as such, it takes the form of a side-scrolling platform game. This decision was not made, one suspects, with any thought that the cartoon series on which it was based particularly lent itself to the idea of jumping around on platforms. Rather, as we have seen before in the likes of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Batman, licensed games tended to be hammered into a platformy shape because the platform game was simply the default image of what a video game was in those days. Such was the colossal success of Super Mario Bros. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on September 27, 2016 in 1991, NES


#54: Spellbound Dizzy


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.


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


#52: Sid Meier’s Civilization


September 1991 – Sid Meier’s Civilization

When asked what he thought of western civilization, Gandhi replied that he though it would be a good idea, or so the story goes. Meanwhile, in the world of Sid Meier’s Civilization, Gandhi is well known as a psychotic megalomaniac, prone to launching nuclear strikes on anyone who so much as looks at him funny. It’s the result of an oversight in the game’s programming; each AI-controlled world leader has base rating of 1-10 in a variety of characteristics, including aggression, in which Gandhi’s is set at 1. But a government choice of Democracy which, as a pacifist, Gandhi tends towards, will lower that aggression rating by a further two points. This sets Gandhi to -1, which rolls around and instead becomes a score of 255, because computers, and so we get Gandhi the destroyer of worlds. This might seem like something of a major failing, but given the scope of this game, it’s a wonder that the most notable bug is a bit of amusingly absurd mischaracterisation, as opposed to some utterly game-destroying catastrophe. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on September 7, 2016 in 1991, DOS


#51: Super Mario Bros. 3

Iain ultimately wrote most of this one, though it was something of a joint effort in conception. And hey, we’re back. You can expect weekly updates until we’ve seen out 1991, at the very least. Promise. 


August 1991 -Super Mario Bros. 3

This is the game where Mario learns to fly, tail flapping, perhaps on unseen wires in front of platforms casting shadows on a painted sheet sky. Like Super Mario Bros. 2 before it, Super Mario Bros. 3 presents some pretty explicit suggestion that its events are not meant to be taken as the depiction of reality, only this time, rather than a dream, it is instead a stage performance, literally opened with a raised curtain. All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In this way, the reiteration of the same damsel in distress plot from the original Super Mario Bros. gains an extra layer of performativity that makes it a little harder to read as an uncritical embrace of the tropes within. That’s only reinforced by how peculiarly it functions in practice, not least in Princess Peach Toadstool providing helpful hints and items from captivity. It’s not clear exactly who is putting on the production, but there are shows within shows.

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Posted by on August 30, 2016 in 1991, Mario, NES


#50: Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge

Iain wrote this one.


July 1991 – Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge

I’ve been into parodies almost as long as I’ve known any kind of stories. 1066 and All That, with its Bad Kings and its Picts living in brackets, was practically my introduction to history. As a pre-teen I loved Red Dwarf for its play on science fiction ideas as much as the bawdy humour. It didn’t take me long to take the short trip from J.R.R. Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey’s fantasy novels to Terry Pratchett’s take-off’s (and Piers Anthony’s — this was by no means all a good thing). And I was familiar with enough pirate stories, text adventure games and installments of King’s Quest to love The Secret of Monkey Island‘s riffs on pirates and adventure games alike. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 28, 2016 in 1991, DOS, Monkey Island


#49: Sonic the Hedgehog



June 1991 – Sonic the Hedgehog

Part I: Gotta Go Fast! (Green Hill Zone)


Let’s start with the loop-the-loop, because it is perhaps the iconic image of Sonic the Hedgehog, and because it so effectively represents, for better and for worse, what the series is all about. It is, first of all, a thoroughly incongruous image. The appearance of the Green Hill Zone is a lush and verdant tropical paradise, a place of natural, unspoilt beauty. With a few great honking loops in its landscape. While our understanding of real-world geography would lead us to assume that such a structure could only be man-made, there’s nothing within the diegetic world of Sonic the Hedgehog that implies that this is anything but a natural rock formation, and plenty to suggest that it is. This is just the way things are here. No need to worry. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 22, 2016 in 1991, Mega Drive, Sonic the Hedgehog