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Posts By Jamie Alston

Renegade Review Rewind

The Street Fighter

Sometime in May 1986, Japanese arcades saw the release of a brawler called Nekketsu Koha Kunio-kun (roughly meaning Hot-Blooded Tough Guy Kunio in English). It stars Kunio- a miscreant high schooler fighting for a classmate being picked on by rival gangs. The game is notable for being the first brawler to feature an urban setting and introduced many trademarks common to the genre- a tough guy protagonist, themes of street justice, generic thugs, female villains, and so on. The game underwent significant revisions for its Western release and subsequent NES port, including a name change to Renegade and the story wholly disconnected from its source material.

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Fantasy Zone Review Rewind

Cute but Deadly

After seeing the incredible success of Konami's shoot-'em-up Gradius, Sega sought to create an arcade game that could rival it. So in 1986, game designer Yoji Ishii (Flicky, Outrun, NiGHTS) came up with a concept that combined the whimsical sensibilities of Twinbee with a giddy samba-esque soundtrack to create Fantasy Zone. As a lighthearted take on side-scrolling shooters that later cemented the "cute-’em-up" subgenre.

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Super Mario World Review Rewind

A whole new world.

Witnessing the leap from the NES to the new 16-bit Super Nintendo in 1991 was downright magical. The console had an eye-catching futuristic design (in the eyes of my six-year-old self anyway), and the hardware produced higher-quality graphics and sound that delivered an experience impossible for the previous generation. And what better title to lead the charge than Super Mario World? I remember seeing the game for the first time at a graduation party for a friend going to middle school. We all huddled around her TV, taking turns playing the game. As soon as that giant Banzai Bill streaked across the screen, I was hooked.

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F-1 Race Review Rewind

Winning shouldn’t be this hard.

As we age, we sometimes look back on a game we once enjoyed and discover that isn’t nearly as fun as we thought all those years ago. F-1 Race is one of those games for me. Originally released in 1984 on the Famicom, Nintendo reworked a few gameplay elements for its Western release on the Game Boy in 1990. Back then, I was enthralled with the idea of racing around in a Formula One machine while battling it out for first place. Maybe it was the thrill of screaming down the track at 360 km, or perhaps it was just the excitement of playing a new Game Boy game. Whatever the case was, I thought I had gold in the palm of my hands.

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Final Fantasy IV Review Rewind

The “Golden Age” started here.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Final Fantasy IV. Originally released on July 19, 1991, it was a momentous event due in no small part to the fact that this was the first in the series to debut on the Super Famicom. It was released to critical acclaim, and once again several months later when it came to the US on the Super Nintendo as Final Fantasy II (since we missed the first two sequels on the NES). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to play it until a decade later, when it was re-released as part of Final Fantasy Chronicles. And although I was late experiencing my first 16-bit RPG, it was undoubtedly worth the wait.

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Out of this World Review Rewind

The Great Escape

Out of this World (aka Another World) was initially developed and released for the Amiga and Atari ST personal computers by French game designer Eric Chahi in 1991. The game was later ported to the Super Nintendo, among other home consoles. Out of this World garnered much praise for its intriguing visual style and storytelling ability. In most games from this era, text or dialogue was usually the vehicle used to drive the story forward. But this one did it differently. Instead, the ever-changing situations, dangers, and victories all worked together to tell the story without a word.

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Donkey Kong Review Rewind

More fun than a barrel of monkeys.

It all began on this day 40 years ago, in 1981. Nintendo- a then-obscure arcade machine manufacturer- had a problem with their latest game, Radar Scope. The machines weren’t selling as well as hoped, so the company decided to refit the unsold units with a brand new game. Young staff artist Shigeru Miyamoto was tasked with creating an arcade game that would capture the attention of the American audience. The finished product starred a stressed-out gorilla with an infinite supply of barrels who wasn't afraid to use them. It's the stubborn monkey himself, Donkey Kong.

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Life Force Review Rewind

Journey to the belly of the beast.

If you ever want to know how Konami became so successful, just look at their arcade history of the 1980s. Not only were the games entertaining, but there was also a good chance that their best hits would appear on NES and a wealth of other home consoles. Life Force was no exception. Released initially as Salamander in Japan 35 years ago today, the game came to America as Life Force and received an NES port two years later.

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Sonic the Hedgehog Review Rewind

30 years ago today, Sega's blue blur made his debut.

By 1990, Sega was enjoying newfound success with their new 16-bit Genesis system. It quickly became a competent competitor to the NES with popular titles like Golden Axe, Phantasy Star II, and Revenge of Shinobi. But despite the rising success of the Genesis, the platform didn’t have a brand character that could rival Super Mario. Tasked with creating such a mascot, character designer Naoto Oshima came up with Sonic- a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog. Sonic the Hedgehog was released on June 23, 1991- two full months ahead of the Super Nintendo’s debut in America. It was a big summer for Sega, and today marks the 30th anniversary of the moment that made them an icon in the home console gaming space.

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Galaxian Review Rewind

In space, it's always cicada season.

If you live anywhere in the northeastern United States like me, your space is likely being invaded by the periodical cicada brood this time of year. After experiencing the terror of having one smack me in the eye the other day, I realized that these critters share some interesting commonalities with the insects in the arcade classic Galaxian. They’re red-eyed, noisy in groups, and will eagerly dive-bomb you as if “Ride of the Valkyries” were blasting in the background. If you told me cicadas were the inspiration behind this game, I’d totally believe you.

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