Pacing the Cage

All about old-school video games. Reviews, lists and more.

Archive for the ‘Favorites’ Category

Our Favorite Games II: The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time

Posted by ptcgaming on April 1, 2009


Platform: Nintendo 64 Released: 1998

Right off the bat, I’m going to upset a whole lot of you. This game is overrated. Great? Yes. Perfect? Far from it. Manual targeting wasn’t that innovative at the time (PlayStation games were doing it at the same time. See: “Syphon Filter”)., “Super Mario 64” had already revolutionized 3D gaming on the N64, some of the enemies blended into the backgrounds and dear lord I wanted to kill the Navi thing about five minutes into the game. On top of that, it always seemed like a 3D version of the SNES classic “A Link to the Past,” still the best Zelda game in my book.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll be more positive, since this game has sold in the neighborhood of 7.6 million copies and I’m a Zelda nut who has played almost every installment to begin with. For those of you who don’t know, “Ocarina” was initially planned as an anchor game for a disk drive add-on for the N64. This peripheral was only sold in Japan, featured a grand total of nine (!) games and was deemed a commercial failure (Only like 15,000 of these puppies were sold. But there was a 3D polygon program for it that was like “Mario Paint” on steroids!). It was instead moved to the actual console, at the time the largest game Nintendo had ever created.

“Ocarina” features a vast Hyrule full of color, with custom music for each region of the land. Each region also seems to have its own personality and inhabitants. The addition of Epona to help quickly take you places is a plus, too.

Being the first Zelda game in 3D and with the new, non-linear combat system made the series feel fresh. The adventure is long, and the ending cut scene is more than 10 minutes long, but you’ll get sucked into the story while playing and forget about how long it’s taking. And it was good to see both Link and Ganon looking like “humans” for a change. Without Ocarina, we probaly would have never seen masterful graphics like in the GameCube/Wii Zelda contribution, “Twilight Princess.”

Believe it or not, as powerful and in-depth as “Ocarina” was, it may have been eclipsed by “Majora’s Mask,” another Zelda title for the N64 released just a couple years later. “Majora’s Mask” built on an upgraded “Ocarina” game engine (which, coincidentally, was  built on an upgraded “Mario 64” engine) and required an expansion pack containing additonal RAM in order to run on the console. It’s even more of a graphical treat than “Ocarina,” even though it wasn’t as popular. It did, however, receive comparably high scores.


Posted in Favorites, N64 | 2 Comments »

Our Favorite Games II: Star Fox

Posted by ptcgaming on March 31, 2009


Platform: Super NES Released: 1993

“Star Fox” pushed the envelope in the 16-bit age. Console video games weren’t known for their 3D capability. In fact, the Super NES console couldn’t handle a game so complex. So what do you do to fix the problem? Well, you build custom hardware into the cartridge, of course!

Thus, the Super FX chip was born. This powerful microprocessor, the first 3D graphics accelerator readily available for home console use, was built into “Star Fox’s” cartridge.

“Star Fox” was developed by Nintendo EAD and Argonaut Software. Shigeru Miyamoto, father of “Donkey Kong,” “Mario” and “Zelda,” was one of the game’s main designers. It was a 3D space shooter (Nintendo’s first 3D game ever) with a third-person perspective. You navigated your Airwing through several levels, and the difficulty was determined by the path you chose. In the game, which takes place in the Lylat system, Andross has attacked Corneria, and you control Fox McCloud in an attempt to thwart Andross and his army. “Star Fox” has seen its share of sequels made for later Nintendo consoles, even finding itself on the DS, where online play was an option.

Posted in Favorites, SNES | 2 Comments »

Our Favorite Games II: Doom

Posted by ptcgaming on March 30, 2009


Platform: MS-DOS (original) Released: 1993

While “Wolfenstein 3D” pioneered the first-person shooter genre, it was “Doom” that seriously put it into the mainstream.

“Doom,” originally developed by id Software, was as violent as it was popular. In Doom, you were a space marine basically blasting and chopping away anything in your path. Whether it was blasting possessed humans or destroying fireball-launching aliens, it was fast, run-n-gun fun. “Doom” was built using the appropriately-named Doom Engine, a new 3D game engine first used in this game. The game took some aspects of “Wolfenstein 3D,” also developed by id, and improved upon them, including but not limited to walls of varying heights and full texture mapping of all surfaces. Your weapon was fixed directly in front of you just like in “Wolfenstein,” and included everything from guns to a chainsaw to the plasma-shooting BFG 9000, one of the baddest weapons ever created in video game lore. “Doom” also featured a multiplayer “Cooperative” and “Deathmatch” mode.

“Doom” was the winner of multiple Game of the Year awards. However, the graphic nature of the game stirred a bit of controversy. It has been said that the two teens responsible for the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. The game has also been part of other controversies over the years, but is still regarded as one of the most important video games in history.

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Our Favorite Games: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Posted by ptcgaming on September 19, 2008

Platform: Nintendo Game Boy, Game Boy Color Released: 1993, 1998 (DX version)
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was one case of a game undergoing a dramatic face lift, and all for the better. Originally released in 1993 to rave reviews on the original monochrome Game Boy, its DX version was released for the Game Boy Color five years later. The DX version not only added full color to the entire game, but also added a couple new features only available when playing on a GBC. This game veered away from a few typical Zelda concepts: Link’s quest doesn’t take place in Hyrule, there is no Triforce, Ganon isn’t the main boss and, aside from one mention at the beginning of the game, Zelda isn’t included in the game at all. Instead, a shipwrecked Link wakes up on Koholint Island, and the only way off the island is to wake the Wind Fish, who is sleeping inside an egg on top of a mountain (Don’t look at me, I didn’t write the story). To wake said Wind Fish, Link must gather eight instruments, which (keeping to Zelda tradition) must be obtained by fighting his way through eight dungeons, each with a main boss at the end. There were a couple things I found strange about this game: For one, several characters from the Super Mario Bros. series make appearances in the game. Secondly, I was very disappointed in the ending to this game (but I won;t spoil it for you). Nevertheless, if you love Zelda, but get tired of having to kill Ganon all the time, give Link’s Awakening a try.

On a side note, this is the final entry for the “Our Favorite Games” series at this time. I hope you have enjoyed this look back at some of the most popular games from yesteryear. I plan to have another “Favorites” series sometime later on, so if you have any suggestions on what games you’d like to have featured then, your suggestions are always welcome. Thanks again for reading!

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Our Favorite Games: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Posted by ptcgaming on September 18, 2008

Platform: Sega Genesis Released: 1992
Sonic returned to the gaming scene in 1992 with this sequel, and a friend tagging along. Sonic 2 took a successful model and improved upon it, making the game graphically better and faster (if that was even possible). Sonic’s second quest to take out Dr. Robotnik introduced us to Tails, his partner in crime (er) and ongoing character in the Sonic series. Though most of the zones were cut down to no more than two acts (except the Metropolis Zone), the abundance of zones made the game seem much longer than the original Sonic. And while the game features continues that can be earned, the lack of a save feature makes this game difficult to sit through after spending all day at work then coming home to take care of your family before having time for yourself. (On a side note, there is a save feature in later titles in the series.) But even with it’s time-consuming length, the ever-changing landscapes and great music make this a great title for a weekend gaming sit-down. The game is so popular (at least six million copies sold), it’s the biggest seller for the Genesis (Mega Drive in Japan), all-time. This sequel is a great example of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

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Our Favorite Games: Donkey Kong Country

Posted by ptcgaming on September 17, 2008

Platform: Super Nintendo Released: 1994
Donkey Kong Country changed the way we looked at the primate’s franchise. He was no longer a single-screened platformer, he wasn’t involved with anything to do with Mario and he wasn’t designed by his creator, Shigeru Miyamoto. But it still managed to sell more than 9 million copies, making it the third-biggest-selling SNES title ever behind only, well, that Mario guy. DKC utilized pre-rendered 3D graphics to create its outstanding-looking world. Donkey Kong and his partner, Diddy Kong, were on a mission to get DK’s bananas back from King K. Rool. You had to make your way through six different worlds to accomplish this in a side-scrolling format. Collecting 100 bananas along the way got you an extra life (sound familiar?), as would finding the four letters that spelled “KONG.” Both Donkey and Diddy (long before Diddy was Diddy) were both on-screen at the same time, and you could be either one. To switch to the other character you just had to “tag” him. Despite its popularity when released, DKC has become the focal point of some criticism, with some calling the game one of the most overrated of all-time.

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Our Favorite Games: Out Run

Posted by ptcgaming on September 16, 2008

Platform: Sega Master System Released: 1987
Remember back in the days when you’d spend a Saturday night at the local arcade feeding quarters into dozens of video game cabinets to flex your gaming muscles? I sure do, and one of those games I fed numerous quarters to was Out Run. Now Sega Master System owners were lucky – they didn’t have to keep feeding quarters to get their Out Run fix. The idea of Out Run was simple – drive to the checkpoints before time runs out. Of course, dodging other cars and making your way through several different landscapes makes this much harder than it seems. Out Run was just plain fun. Its 3D effects and graphics were some of the best of its time. You just hopped in the car with your girlfriend and put the pedal to the metal. Another thing that made Out Run great was it was always changing – You could choose your route, giving the game 16 different route variations. And where you end determined your ending. Out Run has been called by some not a “racing” game, but a “driving” game instead.

Posted in Favorites, Sega | 1 Comment »

Our Favorite Games: Super Mario Bros. 3

Posted by ptcgaming on September 15, 2008

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System Released: 1990

Raise your hand if you packed into a movie theater to catch the Fred Savage movie The Wizard just to see a glimpse of SMB3. Or do you remember chants of “Mario! Mario!” coming from your TV? It doesn’t matter how you were introduced to its 8 bits of glory, because the game speaks for itself. Fantastic graphics, gameplay and sound make this, in my opinion, the greatest original NES title ever. And there must be some people who agree with me, since SMB3 is the biggest selling game of all-time not originally bundled with a console (18 million copies sold). The game featured the same storyline – Bowser kidnapped the princess, so go get him – and yet so much more. There were world maps to explore, mushroom houses and new power-ups, oh, the number of power-ups. My personal favorite was always the Tanooki suit, even though the Hammer Bros. suit kicked serious butt, too. Eight worlds, each packing more than the four standard levels each, awaited you on your quest. There were some world-specific items (remember Kuribo’s Shoe?), and each world was completely different from any other. In a nutshell, this game is fantastic. And it set the stage for another epic 2D Mario game, Super Mario World, which helped launch the Super NES. Many of SMB3’s innovations (power-ups, world maps) were transferred to Mario’s 16-bit quest, a testament to how groundbreaking this game was.

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Our Favorite Games: Lemmings

Posted by ptcgaming on September 14, 2008

Platform: Commodore Amiga (PC) Released: 1991
Ah, Lemmings, those gullible, green-haired beings that jumped, dug and built their way into out homes in the early 1990s. Just about everyone has heard of Lemmings. The idea of the game was to get the required number of Lemmings (drones) to the door at the end of the stage. You helped make your way through the stage by jumping, digging, bashing or blowing your way through numerous terrains, everything from dirt to rock to concrete – just don’t fall into the water or lava! You assign a Lemming a specific task, and he’s (or she’s – I’m not quite sure) supposed to do it, so as long as you timed your assignment right. The game had four difficulty levels, each with a set of included levels. On each level, there was set number of Lemmings you had to save in order to move on. Now I don’t know exactly why, but even though the concept of this game was simple, it was still a lot of fun. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly suggest you do.

Posted in Favorites, PC | 2 Comments »

Our Favorite Games: Pitfall!

Posted by ptcgaming on September 13, 2008

Platform: Atari 2600 Released: 1982

Anyone who came within a hundred miles of an Atari 2600 in the early 1980s has heard of Pitfall! It’s Activision’s adventure featuring Pitfall Harry and his journey through the jungle. You ran either left or right (your choice) dodging snakes, scorpions, rolling barrels and crocodiles as you tried to find all the hidden treasures before the 20-minute timer ran out. You could stay above ground to complete the game, or you could utilize the underground passageways that let you skip through multiple screens at once. Pitfall has sold around 4 million copies since its release, second on the 2600 only to the lackluster port of Pac-Man. This was just one of several great titles Activision developed for the 2600, such as River Raid and Commando, two other challenging but fun games. Pitfall’s graphics, animation and sound were top-notch for the 2600, and the game remains a classic today.

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