Bit Age Times #7
(The Newsletter for the Second
Table of Contents
Top 50 Bit Age Games
02 Goodbye Joystick
03 Sega CD Saga
04 The Devil Made Me Play It!
05 The Greatest Battle
06 Sites of the Month
07 I Was a Teenage Altered Beast
Top 50 Bit Age Games
Here is where it gets real
tough! I struggled with this section alot. I did use alot of input from
readers to fill it. The first 10 are easy, it is just where to put them. The
last ten are also easy as they are the ones that barely made it. But the
middle ones, especially this batch are tough. It is here that you start
questioning if these picks should have been higher or lower. I expect that I
will get the most criticism from this group. So flame away, I am ready!
30. Prince of Persia-One of the
most beautiful games of its time was Prince of Persia. This was one of the
first times that the character moved realistically. The whole game flowed so
beautifully. This really was a springboard for many other games that began
to incorporate both the gameplay style (Out of this World) and the smooth
29. R-Type-You can define the
Bit Age by three popular styles of gameplay; fighting games, scrolling
platform games and shooters. When you speak of shooters, you need to include
R-Type, one of the most popular and influential shooters! It gave you huge
bosses, tons of weapons and more stuff to shoot than any person should ever
have to contend with. It was a shooter's dream!
28. Shining Force Series-The
Bit Age saw the rise of RPGs. Before the Bit Age, these were strictly
limited to the computers. But games like Shining Force soon proved that the
consoles could make RPGs that could meet and in some instances, surpass what
the computers were doing. Gorgeous graphics, rich storyline, compelling
characters were all trademarks of this grand series that stretched onward
and provided a few of the bright spots for the Sega Saturn.
27. Pirates-One of Sid Meier's
first big hits and for many the introduction into a whole new kind of game.
A game where exploration was as crucial as battle. Where the sense of
discovery was so great that you had to keep playing. Where great gameplay
was the motivating factor and not some new gimmick. This was the beginning
of many great adventures by one of the best programmers of our generation!
26. Tecmo Bowl-This is the
football game that really sent the virtual sport flying! It added the real
players, teams and more! It kept stats of the game and added cool animations
for touchdown celebrations and more. Plus, it was a fun game to play!
25. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-Every
genre has two titles that were responsible for the evolution of the genre.
While Double Dragon was the game that started the side scrolling beat-em up,
it was TMNT that took it to the next level. With great graphics, four
characters and most importantly it featured four players at one time! Soon
after this, every beat-em up featured this feature (Simpsons, Cap and
Avengers, X-Men, etc...). Please note, I am referring to the arcade game
and not the Nintendo 8-Bit game.
24. Gauntlet-Take Robotron and
put it in a dungeon and you have Gauntlet. This is the pure action game of
the Bit Age! With the ability to choose which character you wanted to
control, potions and food that could be shot and more enemies than anyone
should have to contend with, this game had it all! Plus, that cool speech,
"Elf needs food badly".
23. Super Mario Kart-This game
created a whole new genre of racing game. Instead of the usual racing game,
this one added humor and lots of silliness. Crazy tracks to race around,
familiar characters and some really off the wall power-ups, made this a game
the whole family could play and enjoy! To this day there are still lots of
games that follow this successful formula (including Diddy Kong Racing and
Crash Team Racing).
22. Military Madness-The most
innovative game on the Turbo Grafx and one of the best! This war game
featured not only strategy, but exciting gameplay. Who says that wargames
needed to be dull? This is a game that is still as much fun today as it was
21. Herzog Zwei-This was real
time strategy before it became the buzzword. It was one of the best games
for the Genesis and a true inspiration to many games that came later.
the good old, Atari joystick? I do and I miss it! Sniff.)
One of the biggest changes
from the classic era to the Bit Age was the familiar joystick being pushed
aside for the gamepad. While it was a staple of the early systems, it soon
found itself outside, looking in. Soon the gamepad was on all the new
systems and it was here to stay. But we take this time to say goodbye to the
proud joystick. Sure, you can still find them for systems, but they are now
an accessory. They are not the once proud controller that was proximately
featured in the game. No more machismo as you held tight to it like the
handle of a baseball bat (I know what you are thinking and you better get
that smirk off your face).
Sure the gamepad has some advantages. It does
fit nicely in the hand and it is easier to access the many buttons they put
on them. But there is just something about the joystick. I think part of it
was that the arcades always featured joysticks and it was part of the arcade
feel. Gamepads seemed so alien to me. Besides they forced me to be
left-handed. While this has been no problem for the tons of impressionable
youths that grew up during the Nintendo era, it was tough for an old dog
like myself who grew accustomed to the joystick. Plus, if you want to
threaten someone who is beating the daylights out of you, the joystick is a
much more convincing threat than a wimpy little gamepad. You could grab that
by the handle and club them senseless. Much scarier than swinging the
gamepad around like a watch on a chain.
So we move into a new era of games and the
controllers continue to evolve. We now see hybrids of gamepads and
joysticks. We have controllers with force feedback and analog controllers.
But we must not forget the mighty joystick. It was there in the beginning
and it helped us defend the world from many Space Invaders, ghosts, monsters
and what have you. It served us proud and must never be forgotten. So please
send your donations to the "Build a Joystick Monument in Tom's Front Yard
Fund." Your donation is tax deductible, unless you are audited and it will
go to a worthy cause. Let us not let this servant of man be forgotten. Get
those checks out today!
Sega CD Saga
By Fred Wagaman
OK, Iíll admit it. Iím an early adopter. I
bought my Saturn the day it arrived at Toys R Us. I pre-bought my
Playstation. I was standing in line to get my Dreamcast at midnight last
September. And yes, I preordered an Atari Jaguar when it was first
announced. (Hey, they canít all be winners)
But one machine I was able to resist getting
when it first came out was a Sega CD.
I waited almost 6 months. Then I found a
great deal at a used game store that got me a Sega CD with a couple of games
for almost 25% off what it was going for new. I couldnít resist. It was one
of the original under-the-Genesis units. By this time, the newer
side-by-side units were available.
I had the machine for several months when I
picked up Spiderman vs. the Kingpin. I had really enjoyed the original
Spiderman for the Genesis and thought Iíd like this one too.
Unfortunately for me, it didnít work.
Itís not that there was a problem with the
game working at all. But at certain, and consistent, places, the game would
just lock-up. Nothing would happen. Nada.
So I called Sega.
After explaining my problem, I was informed
that even though I was beyond my warranty period, that I should package my
system up. They would send a company to pick it up and take care of the
problem for me. So I took my original boxes and packed it up (Todayís Tip:
Always save your boxes and receipts). A few days later, my machine was
picked up and the waiting game began.
Knowing a little about software, hardware and
the like, I had some suspicions on what the problem was and how it would be
fixed. I noticed that when I booted my Sega CD, a version number would
appear on the upper right-hand portion of the screen. Mine said ďver 1.2Ē. I
expected that they would replace the firmware inside the unit with a later
version and send the machine back to me.
I was surprised when, less than a week later,
there was a package for me at the front door from Sega. I was even more
surprised when I opened it and found a brand new side-by-side Sega CD unit
inside the box. I had expected them to replace the rom. They did all right,
but sent it in a completely new housing. It even included all of the pack
ins including Sewer Shark. (I didnít send pack my pack ins or even my power
supplies when I returned my unit).
I was excited to get a free game and a new
unit. I had wished they told me they were going to replace it. I was a
little disappointed because I liked the over-under unit.
Anyhow, the first thing I did once the unit
was hooked up, was to check the rom version. My suspicions were confirmed
when ďver 2.1Ē appeared on the screen. Spiderman didnít have any further
I have long since gotten rid of my
side-by-side and replaced it with an over-under. I also picked up a CDX unit
some time ago (A CDX is a Sega CD/Genesis combo in a portable CD player like
So, if you happen to run into troubles
playing a game or two on your old Sega CD unit, donít fret. Donít think your
system is broken. Itís probably the version of the firmware that is the
Fred would also like to note that some
versions of the Saturn have some issues with the game ďCrocĒ. Some machines
will drop polygons or lose Crocís eyes. All other games appear to play well
on the machine, but the same copy of the game plays fine on other Saturns.
Any comments on similar issues can be sent to him at
The Devil Made Me Play it!
Ever play a game that was so
addictive that figured there must be other forces behind it? Well, that is
the kind of game that Devil's Crush is! It is still my all-time favorite
pinball game! I know what you're thinking, a pinball game? How boring. But
this one offers alot more than the typical silver ball action. A whole lot
One of the first things you will notice with
this game is the large amount of detail. From the skull who laughs at you to
the many different targets and hidden things that pop up, there is alot to
do in this game. The best part is the better you do, the more sub-games you
get to play. These are different screens where you will have to defeat
creatures or clear a certain amount of targets with your pinball. These are
both exciting and can send your score to another level! There are a bunch of
little bonus rounds to play and discovering them is half the fun!
While this game is the sequel to Alien Crush,
the first pinball game released on the Turbo Grafx, it is anything but an
update. It improves greatly on the initial concept of Alien Crush and the
biggest improvement is the smooth scrolling of the ball from screen to
screen. One problem with Alien Crush was that the pinball table was two
screens big, but when you went from one screen to the next, there was a
pause as the Turbo would load back in the other screen. This jerkiness was
quite annoying and detracted from an otherwise good pinball game. But in
Devil's Crush, the ball moves effortlessly from one screen to the next.
Which is good as there are now three different screens that make up the
pinball table. You would go nuts if it had to keep pausing.
One of the best features of Devil's Crush is
the very atmospheric music. When you combine them with the eerie sound
effects, you get a very haunting game and one that will draw you in. They
are a perfect compliment for the dark graphics with pentagrams, skulls and
all sorts of little demons. It really is a little taste of Hell on Earth,
only it doesn't scare you into sainthood, like the real Hell is supposed to.
While pinball games have not always fared
well on home consoles, mainly because a straight adaptation of a pinball
machine will always fall short, Devil's Crush is a big success! This can be
credited to the programmers who took a pinball game and morphed it with a
video game, to give you an experience that you will not find at a game room.
This union combines the best of both worlds to make something that is highly
original, entertaining and totally engrossing! If you own a Turbo Grafx, you
must have this game. It is that good!
The Greatest Battle
In the history of video
games, there has been some massive battles for supremacy. The old Atari vs
Intellivision battle was one of the first and most fierce. Then came the
Nintendo vs Sega Master System. Actually, that was more of a massacre. Who
can forget the Sega Genesis vs Super Nintendo or the more recent Sega Saturn
vs Sony Playstation? But none of these will come close to the battle that is
beginning to brew in the video game industry. No time in the history of the
industry has so many companies with deep, deep pockets ever battle for such
a huge industry. The video game industry is bigger now than ever and the
stakes are much greater. What used to be a hundred million dollar industry
is now a multi billion dollar industry and growing! Growing very fast! So we
have four major competitors vying for your entertainment dollars and only
two will be successful (at least that is how the industry has always been, a
two console market). Which ones will it be and why? While I don't have all
the answers (judging by some of the email about my top 50 list, I couldn't
buy a clue with Bill Gates money), I will give my predictions. I will let
you know how each one stacks up, in my opinion and why they will be
successful or not. So here they are in what order I expect them to finish.
Oh, I threw in the mystery one too, the X-Box.
on paper, this ones sounds very intriguing, it has yet to actually
materialize. The mystery system that has been discussed for the last two
years or so, has been nothing but hype. For anyone not familiar, this is the
platform that will ship with DVD players. So you can choose a cheaper DVD
player that just plays DVDs or you can choose a DVD player for more money
that also plays games for this system. It will be done by numerous
companies, ala 3DO. I personally don't think it has much chance. If it was
out now and was the first DVD console on the market, possibly. But the
longer it waits, the worse its chances. And those chances aren't that great
right now. When choosing between a system made by one dedicated company or
one that is part of a federation of sorts, take the one dedicated company
#4-Sega Dreamcast-While I like
the Dreamcast and think it is a great system, it made two major errors. The
first big error is it went into the next generation race with yesterday's
technology. By not having a DVD player and instead going with a modified
CD-Rom drive, the gigadrive, was a fatal mistake. The most information a
single Dreamcast CD can hold is 1 Gig, which is an astonishing amount of
memory. But the Sony and others who are going DVD will be able to hold 4-5
times as much. That means bigger games, more music, more sound effects, more
The second big flaw that Sega did was to
launch the system without the internet site up and running. The system came
out almost 6 months ago and the system still is not up. This was a horrible
mistake. If they had it up and running from the get-go, they could have sold
twice as many units. If they would have had games like NFL 2K and others
internet ready, the word of mouth and peer pressure would have sold tons of
units. Sure their sales are very good, incredible, but think how much better
they could still be if they had this in place? Everyday they delay this is
going to cost them.
On a positive note, they have sold enough
units to date to guarantee a steady stream of games for the next year or so.
They also have a solid arcade division that continues to bring them games
like Crazy Taxi and Zombie's Revenge. Add in some great programmers and you
have a tough competitor. They were also aided by the delay of the Dolphin.
But without a DVD and the long delay in getting their internet network up
and running, they have shot themselves in the foot twice already and most
people only have two feet.
#3-Nintendo Dolphin-Nintendo has
alot going for them. They have zero debt and 6 billion in the bank! Oh yeah,
they have a license to print money, namely the Pokemon craze that will not
die off. Add in the still profitable Nintendo 64 and Color Gameboy and you
have a company that can go toe to toe with anyone. Oh yeah, they are also
the most successful video game company ever! But even that and their
guaranteed franchises like Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong is enough to win the
In the past, Nintendo was able to live on
their reputation and history. They also had the advantage of being the
biggest company in the industry and could pummel the rest. But this time
around, they have to face two companies that are even bigger than they are;
Sony and Microsoft. Both of these companies not only have the funds, but
also the ties to battle the giant. Sony has already beaten Nintendo once
with the Playstation and showed they were vulnerable. Of course, Nintendo
went with the not so profitable cartridges, a mistake they are not going to
make a second time. But they are also doing what they always do and be the
last system out. While this may benefit them in making sure they have the
best technology, it also means that alot of gamers have already committed to
a game system, like they did with the Playstation. Nintendo really needs to
get this system out quickly to win the battle. They also need to have a
solid online gaming community ready.
they are the newest in the industry, they are the most dangerous! Microsoft
is the second biggest company in the world (Cisco recently beat them out)
and has a ton of money to throw into this. They also have some of the best
programmers in their employment (go ahead and laugh, but they are
successful, like it or not) and already have a gaming division up and
running. So they are ready and can make some serious waves.
While money and expertise will not guarantee
success, Microsoft has alot more going for it. First off, they already have
lots of internet experience and can make sure they have a very good system
up! They already have experience with online games. They have been doing it
for a few years and can have it up and running with no problem.
Another huge advantage Microsoft has is they
have lots of ties in the industry. They have been working with the top chip
makers, 3D graphics companies and others, so it is easy for them to get the
best companies to work with them. Clout and the deepest pockets guarantee
this. So you can be sure they will have the best of everything for their
system and will have a huge number of companies ready to sign up to produce
games for them.
#1-Sony Playstation 2-Right now,
Sony is the most popular and the top choice of gamers. The Playstation was a
huge hit (over 70 million sold!) and gave them the reputation as the top
video game company in the world! They have proven to know how to market a
system and to make it successful. They have the finances, the clout and the
experience to repeat!
But what Sony has that no one else does is
the ability to play the original Playstation games. Couple this with the
ability to play DVD movies and you have a fantastic selling point! Much
easier to convince the significant other/parent to buy a system when you
don't have to abandon all your old games!
Sony also the advantage that every company
and their brother wants to make games for the system. So all the big hits
from Final Fantasy to Grand Turismo to Resident Evil will be on the system.
They also have a very good software company of their own and will keep a
steady stream of hits coming out. And it is software that sells a system!
Sites of the Month
There are numerous good sites
out there that deal with Bit Age games and systems, but I only have room to
cover two a month. So if you have a site you would like to see me spotlight,
please send it in and I will take a look at it. In the meantime, here are
two more deserving sites to check out!
Phantasy Star Pages
Anyone who owned a Sega Genesis and was a fan of RPGs, owned Phantasy
Star! It was one of the best series of games from the first one on the Sega
Master System to the later ones on the Sega Genesis. They gave you great
characters, deep storylines and tons of gameplay! This site is a dedication
to this incredible series!
If you are a fan of the series, you must
check out this site! From the information about the games, to the links to
the original poems and sketches, you have a plethora of Phantasy Star info.
You could OD' on Phantasy Star! There is so much to check out, you will need
a few days to absorb it all! So if you are a fan, check out this site at the
This site is dedicated to the obscure, and it has it! Kevin O'Conner
has managed to get photos and more of some of the most obscure game systems
ever! We are talking stuff like FM Towns Marty, Playdia, Mega CD and more!
If you ever had any interest in systems that the average person will never
see, let alone own, then check out this very informative site!
While there is more on his site, it is the
extremely rare systems that are the main attraction! I can remember reading
about and wanting a FM Towns when I was young. Never bought one, but at
least now I can see what I was so interested in. Great site! It can be found
at the following URL:
I Was a Teenage Altered Beast
Once I got over my admiration of my macho
body, I grabbed my sword and yanked it out of the belly of the great beast.
I then took the sword and cleaned off the blood. Then I pulled my dagger out
and skinned the beast. I pulled the skin off carefully, not to tear it too
much. I would wear it like a trophy to prove to the guys back in the village
that I did indeed slay the mighty beast! I wrapped the skin around my
shoulders and carried on my journey.
Little did I know that taxidermy was not my
strong point. In fact, I knew absolutely nothing about it. As I walked on, I
realized the large amount of flies buzzing around me. I also noticed the
increased chatter of the crows as they flew up and tried to grab a piece of
the hanging flesh that still was on the skin. After a few hundred more
yards, I realized it was that stinking skin that was attracting all the
attention. So I pulled it off and tossed it into the woods. I then ran for
the nearest stream to wash off the blood that has seeped into my hair and
clothes. I felt as disgusting as I looked.
As I came up to the stream, I stopped once
again to admire myself. Damn, I look good! A little lumpy from all these new
muscles, but much better than the shadow of a man I used to be. I could
probably go from cleaning up after the horses to making shoes for them! Dare
to dream! As I dove in the water and enjoyed the cool feel, I was quick to
wash away the blood. Last thing a person wants to have is a blood trail. It
will send every predator and scavenger after you.
Once I felt clean, I got back on land and put
my clothes back on. As I got dressed, I heard a sound from behind me. It
sounded like a groaning sound. As I turned around, I saw there was a bunch
of zombies walking towards me. They were following the trail of blood that I
had left. I tried to move away from them, but soon found that they had me
surrounded. There was nothing to do, but fight it out! So I waited for one
to come near me and WHAMMO!, I punched his head in! While it is quite
disgusting to stick your fist through an undead's head, it is also quite
gratifying to see the body collapse into a pile. Once I got over the
disgustingness of the action, I had a field day! I was kicking butt like
there was no tomorrow! If Hercules could see me now! But the zombies kept
coming, one after another. Soon there was a few piles of bodies around me
and it was getting hard to get around. But after four straight hours of face
punching, they finally quit coming. Either they got smarter or I wiped them
all out, I am unsure which, but I could finally catch my breath and take a
When I looked around at the carnage, I also
noticed it was nighttime. So I piled all the zombies into one huge pile and
made a monster bonfire! Sure, they stunk as their decayed flesh burned, but
it kept every creature away from me. The sheer size of the fire and the
putrid odor was enough to ensure a good night sleep. I knew that I would
need the sleep as my journey was going to get even more dangerous and even
these newly formed muscles may not be enough to save dear Penelope.
As the weather gets better
and the grass gets greener, we think of things of spring. Of course one of
these is baseball and the newest batch of new baseball games that came to
your favorite video game system. So next month, we will spotlight some of
the great baseball games of the Bit Age. From the deep Baseball Stars to the
totally engrossing World Series Baseball, we will look at some of the
different ones available. So grab your mitt and your bat and get ready to
swing for the fences! See you in a month!