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Posts By Jamie Alston

To the Earth Review Rewind

An exercise in futility.

After playing Duck Hunt as a child in 1987, I became an instant fan of Nintendo's Zapper peripheral. There was something magical about pointing the orange & grey gun at the screen and seeing the game respond to my attempts at shooting the waterfowl flying about. As the years passed, I played other enjoyable Zapper games like Hogan's Alley, Wild Gunman, and Barker Bill's Trick Shooting. After such great experiences, I was convinced that all Nintendo-developed light gun games were as good as the previous ones I played. "They can do no wrong!" I said—famous last words of a naive fool.

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Top Gear Review Rewind

The Super Nintendo shifts into gear

Ever since Namco’s Pole Position made its debut in the arcades in 1982, the racing genre has been considered an essential medium in the gaming world. The increase of video game consoles making their way into homes throughout the mid-to-late ’80s further solidified the popularity of racing games. Players looking for deeper mechanics than what was available from the current offerings of the day could rejoice when Kemco published Top Gear in 1992- one of the first driving games for the Super NES.

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Intelligent Qube Review Rewind

Sinister Geometry

The original PlayStation console opened new doors of innovation in game development. Its hardware capabilities gave designers greater freedom to present fresh experiences from well-established genres. And in some cases, it would attract outsiders that previously had no background in game development at all. Such was the case with Masahiko Sato- known for his brilliant TV commercials produced in Japan (and a bevy of other talents). Though not a game designer by trade, he created Intelligent Qube- a new type of block puzzle game to challenge curious minds.

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Super Mario Land Review Rewind

As Told by Gunpei

The Game Boy- created by the late Gunpei Yokoi- was Nintendo's first handheld system to mix the portability of the Game & Watch with the seemingly infinite possibilities of interchangeable cartridges.  Although Tetris was the pack-in game with every unit, Nintendo still wanted to have at least one title in the 1989 launch lineup that their consumer base would instantly recognize.

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Super Baseball 2020 Review Rewind

The Big Leagues

With the year 2020 and the MLB World Series well underway, there’s no better time than now to talk about Super Baseball 2020. In 1991, SNK- the famed developer of such blockbusters as Metal Slug and Aero Fighters- released their spin on America’s favorite pastime in the arcades. Two years later, it was ported to the Sega Genesis with NuFX and Electronic Arts handling the programming and publishing. With its futuristic setting and easy controls, the game offered a level of enjoyment missing from baseball’s more realistic interpretations on the home console platform.

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Alex Kidd in Miracle World Review Rewind

Sega's Little Miracle

Let's take a minute to go back in time to 1986. Nintendo was basking in the success of their NES console with hits like Super Mario Bros., Excitebike, and The Legend of Zelda. Meanwhile, Sega wanted to prove that the Master System was the better entertainment medium of choice. Attempting to go toe to toe with Mario, they created Alex Kidd in Miracle World. For Master System fans, the release of this game was a day to remember. According to them, it was the dawn of a new era. According to some, Mario had met his match, and Nintendo would soon crumble under Sega's mighty fist. But reality had other plans.

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Kung Fu Review Rewind

Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind.

On October 18, 1985, the Nintendo Entertainment System was launched in the US. Among the 18 games released alongside it was Kung Fu. A rather unassuming title, Kung Fu has an intriguing history behind it. It started as an arcade game from Irem called Kung-Fu Master and was intended to be based on the movie Game of Death- Bruce Lee’s final film before he died. Later in the course of development, the story and characters were changed to become a tie-in to the Jackie Chan film Spartan X (aka Wheels on Meals). Most noteworthy about the game was its genre-defining gameplay elements that are considered by many to be the first example of what would come to be known as a beat ‘em up.

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Track & Field II Review Rewind

Bigger, but not better.

In 1988, the Summer Olympics took place in Seoul, South Korea. Capitalizing on this event, Konami released the latest game in their Hyper Sports series, Konamic Sports in Seoul on the Famicom. The game was released a year later in the US as Track & Field II. If the original Track & Field were a person, it would be the humble, modest friend quietly entering the room. Track & Field II, on the other hand, is more like the gregarious guy that wants to be the life of the party. Instead of the meager eight sporting events of the first game, this one features 15 athletic events (11 of which were new to the NES series).

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Blaster Master Review Rewind

A boy and his frog

My earliest years in gaming was a magical time. Every new game I discovered pioneered a fresh mechanic I hadn’t seen before. I'll never forget the moment when my brother's best friend came over with his NES games to show off Blaster Master. I marveled as the story elements unfolded while melancholic music played in the attract mode. Pressing the start button then transitioned me to the opening shot of an armored vehicle speeding off while the triumphant music swelled to a crescendo as I journeyed into the unknown. Never had I witnessed anything like that at the time. While everything I just described is nothing spectacular these days, Blaster Master still has a few gameplay elements that still hold up quite nicely.

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Dr. Mario Review Rewind

I hear he’s got the cure.

To describe Dr. Mario as a falling block puzzle game would be slightly misleading. In lieu of descending blocks, you’ll have to guide vitamin capsules raining down from that dubiously credentialed pill-popping Mario. I mean c’mon— he’s a plumber practicing medicine in the “Mushroom Kingdom”. It’s a Dateline investigation waiting to happen. Mark my words.

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