Retro Gamer


    Retro Gamer

    Retro Gamer
    The essential guide to classic games

    Retro Gamer 225 is on sale now!
    <span class=”next-post” data-next-post=””></span><p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-138963″ src=”×630.jpg” alt=”Retro Gamer 225 is on sale now!” width=”488″ height=”630″ srcset=”×630.jpg 488w,×300.jpg 233w, 620w” sizes=”(max-width: 488px) 100vw, 488px”></p>
    <p>The latest issue of Retro Gamer is on shelves now, and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Super Monkey Ball, we’ve taken a special look back at the GameCube classic. As well as that, we have an interview with Sega’s Masao Shirosaki about the creation of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania, the newest game in the series that remakes classic courses and party games from Super Monkey Ball, Super Monkey Ball 2 and Super Monkey Ball Deluxe.</p>
    <p>Of course, that’s not all. Elsewhere in the issue we have an ultimate guide to the classic platformer Chuckie Egg, which delighted players on the BBC and beyond, and a look back at the making of the lighthearted management strategy classic Theme Park. Collectors are well catered for as we look at the state of the market for Mega-CD games, and speak to boutique publisher Strictly Limited Games. In fact, we’ve got something for everyone, whether that’s the evolution of the 8-bit favourite Nodes Of Yesod, the story of Disney’s first foray into game development with Donald Duck In Maui Mallard, the bluffer’s guide to rhythm action games, an ultimate guide to the original Yakuza on PS2, or a conversation with Giles Goddard about how his N64 hit 1080 Snowboarding relates to his new VR game Carve Snowboarding.</p>
    <p>You can pick up issue 225 of Retro Gamer in all good newsagents, or buy <a href=””>subscriptions</a> and <a href=””>single issues</a> from Magazines Direct.</p>
    <p class=”tagFooter”>Tags: <a href=”” rel=”tag”>Carve Snowboarding</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>chuckie egg</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>Donald Duck in Maui Mallard</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>mega cd</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>new issue</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>Nodes of Yesod</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>rhythm action</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>Strictly Limited Games</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>Super Monkey Ball</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>Theme Park</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>Yakuza</a><br></p>
    Thu, 30 Sep 2021 16:04:23 +0000 Nick Thorpe
    Carve Snowboarding
    chuckie egg
    Donald Duck in Maui Mallard
    mega cd
    new issue
    Nodes of Yesod
    rhythm action
    Strictly Limited Games
    Super Monkey Ball
    Theme Park

    The Berlin Wall
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    <p> <strong>Released: </strong><span>1991</span></p><p> <strong>Genre: </strong><span>Platformer</span></p><p> <strong>Format reviewed:</strong> <span>Game Gear</span></p><p> <strong>Publisher:</strong> <span>Kaneko</span></p><p> <strong>Developer:</strong> <span>Kaneko</span></p>

    <span class=”next-post” data-next-post=””></span><p><span lang=”en-GB”>One of the things I really love about the very early days of console magazines in the UK is the prominence given to import games. Rather than being confined to their own small section at the back of the review pages, they were given equal billing with domestic releases, which meant you’d get to see all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff that might never even make it over here. The Berlin Wall was one such game that I saw in a hand-me-down copy of Sega Pro. I thought it looked very cool and the review suggested it was great, but I had no opportunity to play it at the time as I got my first handheld console about a week before the end of the Nineties.</span></p>
    <p><span lang=”en-GB”>For those of you expecting some Cold War shenanigans, forget it – while the original arcade version was full of digitised photos of that major moment in political history, The Berlin Wall on Game Gear has absolutely nothing to do with its real life namesake. Well, unless historians have lied to me and there really was some bloke with a hammer getting chased around by penguins. I don’t know, I was a toddler. Anyway, it’s one of those puzzle platform platform games in the tradition of Lode Runner and Space Panic, in which ladders are crucial for movement and you defeat enemies by smashing the floor away to trap them. Apart from looking quite a lot nicer than those older games, The Berlin Wall includes modern elements like boss battles, and it makes things a little easier on the player by making enemy movements more predictable. There’s even a neat little combo mechanic – if you smash one enemy through the floor, it’ll take out any enemies it falls on too.</span></p>
    <p><span lang=”en-GB”>Sadly, The Berlin Wall never officially made it to UK shelves. In fact, even though a North American version was not only planned but advertised in magazines, the game never made it out there either. That’s a real shame, though you really don’t lose much when you play it with Japanese text, so it’s worth a look regardless.</span></p>

    Mon, 27 Sep 2021 15:56:24 +0000 Nick Thorpe

    428: Shibuya Scramble
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    <p> <strong>Released: </strong><span>2018</span></p><p> <strong>Genre: </strong><span>Puzzle</span></p><p> <strong>Publisher:</strong> <span>Koch Media/Spike Chunsoft</span></p><p> <strong>Developer:</strong> <span>Spike Chunsoft</span></p>

    <span class=”next-post” data-next-post=””></span><p><strong>The Background</strong><br>In 1998, Chunsoft <span lang=”en-GB”>released</span> Machi – a “sound novel” that <span lang=”en-GB”>followed</span> many people who pass one another in Shibuya, Tokyo. Playing from various perspectives including those of a gangster, a politician, an actor and a conman, the various tales came together in one tale. Released for the Saturn, PlayStation and PSP, the game became one of Japan’s most beloved <span lang=”en-GB”>adventure games</span>. <span lang=”en-GB”>A decade later, Chunsoft would create a spiritual successor to Machi in the form of </span>428: Shibuya Scramble, <span lang=”en-GB”>a thriller</span> that returned to Shibuya and adopted a similar gameplay style, featuring multiple character perspectives and a variety of different endings. This time though, a new cast of characters would becom<span lang=”en-GB”>e</span> entangled in an unfolding crime in Tokyo’s busiest district.</p>
    <p>Initially released for the Wii by Sega in 2008, 428: Shibuya Scramble scored a perfect 40/40 in Famitsu. The game was ported to PS3 and PSP in 2009, and later to iOS and Android in 2011, but all of these releases were confined to Japan only. The English translation of the game was a pet project of the game’s localisation producer David Kracker, and was ported by Dutch studio Abstraction Games. Kajiya Productions handled the English script for the game. Versions for the PC and PS4 were released in September 2018, this time in both English and Japanese.</p>
    <p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-138957″ src=”×347.png” alt=”428: Shibuya Scramble” width=”616″ height=”347″ srcset=”×347.png 616w,×169.png 300w,×432.png 768w,×864.png 1536w,×281.png 500w,×286.png 510w, 1920w” sizes=”(max-width: 616px) 100vw, 616px”></p>

    <p><strong>The Game</strong><br><span lang=”en-GB”>428: Shibuya Scramble allows you to follow multiple characters over the course of a single day in Shibuya. Initially, you follow police detective Shinya Kano as he watches the scene of an arranged ransom handover in a kidnapping case. The game soon expands to include the perspectives of former gang leader Achi Endo, freelance journalist Minoru Minorikawa, research scientist Kenji Osawa and Tama, a temp worker trapped in a cat costume. Each character’s story is written with a different stylistic emphasis – Kano’s police drama contrasts heavily with Tama’s comedic misadventures and Osawa’s horror story – and their paths all cross in unexpected ways as they experience an event that could change the course of world history. </span></p>
    <p>The game is unlike most visual novels released in English, as the game is presented as text over photographs of live actors, with music and ambient noises to help set the scene. As you read, some terms will be highlighted in blue and allow you to read additional information on locations, characters and more, while words highlighted in red allow you to jump to an appropriate point in another character’s story. The interactivity comes in the form of a puzzle, which is best described as like trying to play five interconnected Choose Your Own Adventure novels at once. When you pick a character from the menu, you’ll follow their story and encounter occasional points at which you need to make decisions, before eventually being stopped for one of three reasons. The best outcome is that you’ve made it to the end of their chapter. Sometimes, you’ll reach a Stop sign, which requires you to jump in from a link in another character’s story.</p>
    <p>However, the most common reason is that you’ll reach a bad ending, of which the game has dozens. These are the consequences of a wrong decision having been made somewhere, and range from tragegy to comedy – your character is as likely to be murdered in cold blood as they are to simply pack up and begin a new life as a fisherman. What complicates matters is that a bad ending can be caused by events from outside of your character’s story – frequently, a seemingly inconsequential decision made by one character can have dramatic unforeseen consequences for another. For example, early on Tama must choose one of two potential customers to target with a sample of the diet drink Burning Hammer. One of them is Kano’s partner Sasayama, who will hand it to him later – causing Kano to experience a severe physical malfunction and a bad ending. The goal is to ensure that every character’s actions work together, which sounds complex but is made easier by the fact that consequences always stay within the same chapter.</p>
    <p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-138959″ src=”×347.png” alt=”428: Shibuya Scramble” width=”616″ height=”347″ srcset=”×347.png 616w,×169.png 300w,×432.png 768w,×864.png 1536w,×281.png 500w,×286.png 510w, 1920w” sizes=”(max-width: 616px) 100vw, 616px”></p>
    <p><strong>Why It’s A Future Classic</strong><br>Really, we’re just playing catch-up because of the belated English translation – in Japan, 428: Shibuya Scramble is already acknowledged as a classic. <span lang=”en-GB”>Back in 2017, Famitsu readers voted it the second best adventure game of all time, behind only Steins;Gate, and ahead of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Danganronpa and its own predecessor Machi.</span></p>
    <p>428: Shibuya Scramble deserves its place amongst those icons of the genre. While the puzzle element of the game is satisfying in its own right, and the real world setting makes it easy to relate to, what makes the game so enjoyable is the writing. The game is a real rollercoaster ride, with comedic and sentimental moments playing out against the backdrop of a high stakes criminal investigation with real stakes that only increase as the day plays out. Character traits like Achi’s sub-genius utterances or Minorikawa’s hilarious bluster make the main cast easy to warm to, but the supporting cast are unforgettable too, from the banana-toting detective Kajiwara to the impossibly smooth taxi driver Kimizuka. If you’ve ever loved a visual novel, 428: Shibuya Scramble will be up there with your favourites – and if you haven’t, this is a perfect way to get acquainted with the genre.</p>
    <p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-138958″ src=”×347.png” alt=”428: Shibuya Scramble” width=”616″ height=”347″ srcset=”×347.png 616w,×169.png 300w,×432.png 768w,×864.png 1536w,×281.png 500w,×286.png 510w, 1920w” sizes=”(max-width: 616px) 100vw, 616px”></p>
    Wed, 22 Sep 2021 15:45:17 +0000 Nick Thorpe

    Nitro Ball
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    <p> <strong>Released: </strong><span>1992</span></p><p> <strong>Genre: </strong><span>Shoot-’em-up</span></p><p> <strong>Format reviewed:</strong> <span>Arcade</span></p><p> <strong>Publisher:</strong> <span>Data East</span></p><p> <strong>Developer:</strong> <span>Data East</span></p>

    <span class=”next-post” data-next-post=””></span><p><span lang=”en-GB”>Do you remember the Mad Max game that came out in 2015? It sold quite well and seemed to find an appreciative audience, despite the fact that critics at the time felt it to be fairly average. The divide came down to one thing – reviewers had played plenty of those Ubisoft-style open world games in quick succession, and had become a bit bored of them. But even if you’re not reviewing games, if you play enough of them you may find that boredom with staple genres is a real threat. That’s why I find myself attracted to oddities and unusual genre fusions. If you can sell me a combination of “Genre A meets Genre B” that I haven’t encountered before, I’ll probably give it a try.</span></p>
    <p><span lang=”en-GB”>That’s why I love games like Nitro Ball. I like to imagine the pitch meeting at Data East, where the higher-ups sit dumbfounded as a developer presents pinball as the one thing that would have improved a game like Mercs. That’s what Nitro Ball is – a vertically scrolling run-and-gun, with the game show presentation of Smash TV and plenty of stage furniture inspired by pinball. Enemies can be knocked back into holes for bonuses, spinners dispense prizes – and what do prizes make? (“Points!” – you, presumably.) There are bonus sections where you have to knock down all the targets in a certain time limit, and you can even turn into a giant ball and rampage around the screen, crushing everything in your path. It’s great fun, until the first boss starts rolling into you for some payback. There are some excellent presentational touches too, as each stage is themed like a pinball table, with the end of level scoreboard featuring cool artwork representing the stage.</span></p>
    <p><span lang=”en-GB”>Nitro Ball is a very good game which is a little bit unconventional and chaotic, and sometimes that can work against it – it can feel pretty overwhelming at times. But it doesn’t feel quite like anything else out there, and when you’ve played hundreds of games, sometimes that’s just better than another competent take on something you’ve played to death.</span></p>
    <p class=”tagFooter”>Tags: <a href=”” rel=”tag”>arcade</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>data east</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>run-and-gun</a><br></p>

    Fri, 17 Sep 2021 15:41:10 +0000 Nick Thorpe
    data east

    Microsoft Xbox
    <span class=”next-post” data-next-post=””></span><p><a href=””><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-135075″ src=”×426.png” alt=”Xbox” width=”616″ height=”426″ srcset=”×426.png 616w,×208.png 300w,×300.png 433w, 650w” sizes=”(max-width: 616px) 100vw, 616px”></a>There’s a general opinion that the Xbox isn’t retro and that it just has versions of newer games with shitter graphics. These opinions are wrong.<br>Yes the Xbox has spawned some successful franchises, including Halo, Fable and Forza Motorsport, but you can also make the argument that it’s one of the last truly creative consoles.</p>
    <p>Microsoft was on a mission with the Xbox, a mission to prove that it had the flair, money and know how to compete with Sony and Nintendo. The console certainly didn’t have the best of starts, including a serious price cut shortly after launch, but it also solidified online gaming in a way that the Dreamcast hinted at, but never fully delivered.</p>
    <p><a href=””><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-135076″ src=”×462.png” alt=”Halo” width=”616″ height=”462″ srcset=”×462.png 616w,×225.png 300w,×300.png 400w, 650w” sizes=”(max-width: 616px) 100vw, 616px”></a>I’ve fond memories of playing games like Ghost Recon, Unreal Championship and Project Gotham Racing 2 online. There’s something strangely gratifying about playing games on a console, knowing that you’re all on an even keel. Online PC gaming could feel very unfair at the time and the Xbox levelled the playing field.</p>
    <p>Yes there are a lot of first-person shooters and racing games available for the system (hardly surprising when you consider it’s the console equivalent of an American Cadillac), but there are also a lot of exciting gems to be discovered. You’ll never experience a game like Steel Battalion on any other console, while releases such as Phantom Dust, Stranger’s Wrath and Panzer Dragoon Orta would make any Xbox owner happy with their purchase. Oh and speaking of Sega, it released some absolute gems on Microsoft’s console, including Gun Valkyrie, Crazy Taxi 3, The House Of The Dead 3 and the aforementioned Orta. In many ways it actually felt like the Dreamcast 2, with a library consisting of genuine crowd chasers but inventive, quirky stuff as well.</p>
    <p><a href=””><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-135077″ src=”×462.png” alt=”gun valkyrie” width=”616″ height=”462″ srcset=”×462.png 616w,×225.png 300w,×300.png 400w, 650w” sizes=”(max-width: 616px) 100vw, 616px”></a>And let’s not forget Microsoft’s excellent sports library, which consisted of some genuinely fantastic games that covered everything from tennis, to American football and golf. I can still remember the rage when I realised the games were being stopped to make way for EA’s own sports games.</p>
    <p>The Xbox lacked the sheer diversity of the PS2 and you can easily make the argument that many of its in-house exclusives couldn’t match the might of Nintendo’s releases, but in many ways it didn’t matter, not when you could gawp at the grass in Halo or play satisfying multiplayer games, either online or locally.</p>
    <p>The Xbox currently exists in a weird sort of limbo, with many gamers seemingly unsure of whether they should consider it a retro console or not. To those still sitting on your fence, I’d say it’s time to open your eyes, because it would be a pity if nothing more than complete stubbornness is stopping you from enjoying such an interesting console. Oh and you can currently pick up many of its games for peanuts, making it the perfect time to discover Microsoft’s forgotten console.</p>
    <p class=”tagFooter”>Tags: <a href=”” rel=”tag”>ea</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>gaming</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>halo</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>Microsoft</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>online</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>panzer dragoon orta</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>Sega</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>sports</a>, <a href=”” rel=”tag”>xbox</a><br></p>
    Mon, 13 Sep 2021 11:50:04 +0000 Retro Gamer Team
    panzer dragoon orta

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