The newsletter for
the second generation of video games and beyond!
August 2nd 2000
It was brought to my
attention that in my Top 50 most influential games of the Bit Age, I forgot
to put in #34. Someone in my rush to get them all done, I overlooked this
one. What is even more odd is that no one else picked up on it for so long.
With the amount of email I received on this list, I know that people were
reading it. Guess we all just overlooked that one.
So I need some help with #34.
I need you, the readers to send in what game you think should fill the empty
slot and I will collect all the games sent in and make a decision on which
one should be #34. So if there is a game that you felt was unjustly left off
the list, this is your chance to rectify the situation. So send in what the
missing game should be and help fill in the huge void.
What games have you played
lately ? Chances are, if you’re an American gamer, you’ve been playing a
sports game. Or maybe a fighting game. Or, a little less likely, a
Do you ever feel that those
are your only choices ?
Except for puzzle and racing
Do you ever get tired of
those choices ? Do you ever wish that there might be something else ?
Back on the 16-bit era, Sega
received many complaints about their slow delivery of role-playing games.
This was around the time of Phantasy Star 4. People were clamoring for the
title to be released. Sega was reluctant because, in their marketing
opinion, Americans didn’t like role-playing games. Americans wanted sports
games. Eventually, Sega did release PS4 and they were vindicated by its slow
sales. “See” they said “role-playing games are a fringe market and aren’t
worth our investment to produce for the American market.”
Did I mention its price at
release was $99.95 ? This was just $30 less than the price of a new Genesis
Even I, a person that was a
big Phantasy Star fan, balked at the idea of paying $100 for a game. Sega
gave no excuses, no apologies and very little backing to the game. I really
think they did it on purpose thinking that we’d stop asking for things and
accept what they give us.
Jump ahead a couple of years.
Sony’s Playstation is leading the pack of “Next Gen” systems. Final Fantasy
7 is released in Japan. Square and Sony have what amounts to an exclusive
agreement. Sony debates whether to release the game stateside. Sony takes
the chance, backs the product and gets a huge hit. The genre gets
established here and ranks as one of the strongest in the US.
In Japan, there are dating
games, where the goal is to sweet talk women and achieve some sort of goal
with them (Clean thoughts everyone). Usually this is achieved by talking
with them and giving flowers and the like. It’s a game about relationships.
That kind of game would never fly here, would it ? The cultures of Japan and
the US are too different. But a game like that, tuned to the US culture and
developed from a woman’s perspective just might. Will anyone take a chance
with a game like that ? I doubt it ?
But there’s another genre
I’ve yet to figure out why we don’t have here. The Beatmania type games. If
you’ve never seen or played these games, you are missing something. They are
music games where your goal is to perform along to the a variety of song
types. Sort of like “Parrappa the Rapper” without the cartoon. Where
Parrappa was more of a simon-says with a beat game, the Beatmania are more
music-oriented. And there is usually an optional controller to make it even
more fun. There has been a turntable controller, a dance pad and even a
guitar controller. These are very cool. The Playstation 2 has also received
a drum controller for Drummania and is supposed to get Keyboardmania as
So why don’t we get those
games here ?
Konami (manufacturers of the
Beatmania series) doesn’t think that they’d sell here.
Hmm. Fun games that are music
oriented and have cool controllers ? Nope. They wouldn’t sell a single copy
here (…he typed with sarcasm).
This is the sort of thing
that worries me with the next generation of machines. We’re going to get our
fighting games (Tekken series), our racing games (Gran Turismo series) and
our role playing games. We’re going to get our puzzle games and our latest
updates of Madden. And they’ll sell. There will be a ton of PS2s sold just
because they’re the latest thing. But if the games are continue to be
retreads of past games, will interest wane ?
Will you continue to pay $50
for your latest football and baseball game updates. Or if you get a chance,
will you try something else ?
(Fred has been playing
games for over 25 years and actively collecting them for over 10. The 2400+
games in his collection takes up most of his home office and living room. He
lives in Denver, PA with his understanding wife Jennie, his 4 year old,
button-loving son Max and his 1 year old, 4th player, Lynzie. He foresees
the day when you’ll buy a football game once and download the latest roster
for it each year. For a fee of course. He can be contacted at
Remember those long lost
games you played on your old Atari ST, Amiga or early PC computer? You know
those fun little games that you got rid of years ago, when your new computer
didn't come with a 5 1/4 drive. Well, I am sure that you have all but
abandoned hope of ever playing those fun little games again, right? Think
again! Today, there are numerous sites that carry these games, which are
aptly named "Abandonware".
Computer Games of Olde
During my searches across the net, I came across a bunch of sites that
carried games. Some had huge selections, but you had to go through endless
pages to get to them, only to find dead links. Others carried certain games
and some were nothing more than a page designed to get you to go to other
pages (in an attempt to make money from clicks). Then I stumbled upon a
little site called the Computer Games of Olde. While it didn't have the huge
selection of games (it currently has almost 200 and growing), it did have an
easy to navigate site, the links all worked and there were lots of great
games to download!
As I searched through the
site, I was able to find some games that I thought were lost forever. Games
like The Lost Dutchman's Mine, Lord of the Rings and Speedball 2. These were
games I enjoyed on my Atari ST, so many years ago and now I can play them on
the PC, without all that disk swapping and slow load times.
So if you are like me and
would like to relive some memories, check out this site. It is a simple
site, but there are constant updates and lots of great games to play! What
more do you want in a site? Here is the URL:
Here is a site that has taken a few systems and really put in the info for
them. They currently have the Turbo Graphx, Atari Jaguar, Atari Lynx and
Sega Mega Drive covered and do I mean covered! We are talking pictures and
info for almost every game released and many that were never released. It is
amazing at the games that never even knew were planned for some of these
But this site is not happy to
just cover these systems. They are in the works to cover the Sega Game Gear,
Sega Master System and the Neo Geo. So as you can see, this is a site that
is poised to become a regular hangout of gamers everywhere! Check it out at
the following URL:
This month I took a sorta odd
little game and decided to review it. It is a game that I never heard of as
none of the local arcades carry this one on their Neo Geo machines. But I
found the game interesting, so I decided to share it with out.
Legend of Success Joe
If you boil it down to its basic gameplay, you have a simple side scrolling
fighting game. But what sets this one apart from the others is its attempt
to try and tell a story as well. This is what actually keeps you playing the
game, where most games of this genre would have lost you after a few games.
(Your first big opponent, a purple punk!)
The story starts off with you
in a Boy Reformatory School, where you have to fight for your survival. You
appear to be the person who some thugs want to rough up and it is up to you
to show they you are no light weight. Once you dispatch this group of
ruffians, you capture the attention of a boxing coach, who gets you into the
wonderful world of boxing, where you get to get paid to beat people up.
(To see your name in lights, every
As you work your way along,
you find that while the settings change, there is still other bullies that
you need to contend with, both in and out of the ring. The story is pretty
comical as you make your way along. The action is pretty basic, with a
straight ahead punch, a body blow and an uppercut. You can also block
punches, but that is about it. There are the power meter, so you can gauge
your health as well as your opponents (don't you wish these existed in real
(You aren't even safe in the locker room.
Bet Rocky never had these problems.)
While it isn't anything
groundbreaking and once you complete the game (with the aid of lots of
continues), you probably won't want to play it again. But it is a fun run,
while you see what happens to our hero and how the story ends.
Another flurry of letters has
arrived, most dealing with the usual stuff (the Top 50 list and my reports
on the next generation systems), but there are a few others too. So read on!
So which of the next
generation systems are you going to buy?
I am not an early adopter. In
fact, I usually don't buy a system until it is dying. I am a scavenger and
so my guess is that the Dreamcast will be the first one I buy. As much as
the Playstation 2, X-Box and Starcube intrigue me, their prices will more
than keep me away. As great as they seem to be, $300.00 is more than I am
willing to spend on a system.
Why do you only review
Neo Geo games? signed Just Curious
I do plan on reviewing more
games in the future, but right now I just don't have the time. The main
reason that the Neo Geo gets the nod is that I never had the chance to play
it as new. The thought of playing $150-$300 for a single game seemed
ludicrous to me. So now I can enjoy these games that I only heard of and
that is the main appeal.
Which of the handheld
systems would you recommend? signed Looking for Games on the Go
Funny you should ask. Check
back next month when I will do a review and rating of all the Bit Age
handheld systems. I will take a look at the Gameboy, Gamegear, Lynx, Tubo
Express and the Sega Nomad. So check back for a big Handheld issue!
Why do you write about
the next generation games, but you don't carry them for sale on your site?
signed Possible customer
I do carry the Nintendo games
for sale,. but that is all at the present time. The way my business works is
that I deal in the totally dead systems. When they fall to a point where I
can readily buy them cheap and resell them for a decent profit, then I begin
to carry them. I am hoping to soon add Sega Genesis to my list of systems
that I support.
I like your reviews of
new games, as opposed to the old ones. Can you do more of these reviews?
signed Not Stuck in the Past
I have actually received
quite a bit of email from people who want to see more newer game reviews.
They liked the High Heat review and wanted to see more in that vein. So, I
will try to do one a month if possible. I don't buy alot of new games, but I
do buy a few, so I will try to do some reviews for you.
This was one of those games
that I decided to against my nature and buy it new. The thought of paying
$50.00 for a game is a hard concept for me to swallow, but I really enjoyed
the first. So, I swallowed hard and forked over the $37.00 that I was able
to find it on sale for (that cheap side of me is always looking for a
bargain). I gladly took the game home and decided to put it through the
paces. Will it live up to the hype? Will they stray far from the winning
formula of the first one? Let us see.
As I created my character and
begun playing, I quickly realized that the elements that made the first one
so good were still intact. You have the same, simple controls. Almost
everything can be done with the mouse, which makes things very easy. The
same inventory setup and character screens are still there. So if you played
the first one, this one will be an easy transition.
One of the best features of
the this game and the original is the automapping. I personally think that
this should be a mandatory feature on all role playing games. Call me a
wimp, but I personally have better things to do than pull out the graph
paper and map. It is dull, it is stupid and totally unnecessary. I know some
people really dig this, and you can ignore the auto map if you are that
masochistic. I want to enjoy my game and have it turn into a part time job.
I was also pleased that the
developing story was part of this game. I am one of those people who likes a
reason for my adventure. I think that an adventurer who just goes out for
gold and glory is pretty shallow and makes for a dull story. What kind of
fool would risk life and limb without a good reason? Diablo and the sequel
shined here. You were given enough of a story to get you started and as you
completed mini quests, more information opened up. People began to trust you
and will help you more. This really adds to the game and helps to immerse
The beasts that you do battle
with are well animated and there is enough variety to keep your interest.
While there is the customary recycling of the same character design, there
is enough variety. Plus, different creatures battle in different ways. No
more just run forward and fight. Some will run away and others will only
attack from a distance. Then there are annoying creatures like these leaping
little beasts in the desert that are hard as heck to hit. Plus, this time
you have to contend with poison and being frozen. While the stand and go toe
to toe with every creature will work allright in the start of the game, you
will soon find that some evasive measures must be taken if you are to
The weapons are quite
plentiful and there seems to be something for everyone. I have only finished
a little over half the game and have already found a plethora of items. They
also kept the nice feature of your weapons and armor wearing out. Nothing
will make you appreciate your local blacksmith like having your sword break
in the midst of a battle. It will teach you to inspect all weapons and armor
before leaving town.
One big difference in this
incarnation is that you have skill trees. What these essentially are is
branching skills. You decide what skills you want to build and it then opens
up branches to other skills. Think of Civilization 2 and you have an idea of
how it works. While this does make you think about what to build and what to
ignore, it is a feature that I can do without. Like power locks on a car, it
is nice, but not necessary.
The only flaws with this
otherwise great sequel is the save game feature. In the original, you could
save anywhere and as often as you liked. This allowed you to save from alot
of back tracking. But for some unknown reason, they decided to totally screw
this one up. While you can save anywhere, you always start back in the town.
Plus, you cannot save without leaving the game. This is so stupid, it is
beyond me. Nothing is worse than getting ready to battle a major foe and
know that if you lose, you have to backtrack all the way back. This does
make Town Portal Spells all the more valuable.
To make your journey a little
easier, they did add portals that once you step on them, they can be used to
move about the game without so much walking. But a good save feature would
be eons better than this. Guess every game must have a flaw, too bad it is
such a big one.
If you liked the original
game, you should enjoy this. It is the typical sequel, bigger, graphically
more pleasing and aurally more enticing. It is essentially the same game,
just alot more of it. But this is a good thing as many sequels tried to redo
a winning formula and ended up ruining the whole thing. This time they
almost got a sequel right. If they just put back the old save feature, it
would be an awesome game.
As I struggled to contain the
beast that had consumed me, I kept a vision of my beloved in my head. I
figured if I focused on my mission, I could control the beast and complete
the mission. Little did I realize the foolishness of this thinking. I could
no more control this raging beast, than a farmer can control the weather
that is decimating his crops. I had become a force of nature and nature is
controlled by no one.
Soon I found my hunger
overwhelming me. I ran through the swamp and headed through the woods. Hours
passed and time became a complete blur. Soon the day gave way to the night
and I found myself near a small farm. As I looked over the land, I spied
some sheep in the fields. They were still asleep and not aware of my
presence. Before I knew what I was doing, I was racing after them and
surprised them in their slumber. Since they were fenced in, they had a false
sense of security. They believed this flimsy fence which served to contain
them, could keep a force such as myself out. How foolish domesticated
animals are. Within moments, I rushed in and began tearing and devouring one
sheep after another. Soon the sound of carnage and the incessant bleating
awoke the farmer, who came out with crude axe to see what was the commotion
all about. As he moved his crude torch into the pen, he saw my eyes as they
glowed in the darkness. Blood was dripping from my mouth as I peered at the
oncoming light. The fear that must have gripped his heart as he saw what
could only be described as a monster.
As he tried to determine
whether to chase me off or run for the safety of his house, I took advantage
of the moment and rushed at him. His slowed reflexes were no match for me
and before he could recover from the shock, he was dead. I tore out his neck
and drank deep of the warm blood that poured from his veins.
The rest of the night was a
blur, but I remember craving the taste of human flesh. Something about those
soft creatures that cannot be described. I finally found my way to a small
cave and rested. As I slept, the images of the day rushed through my head.
Frightening images of scared faces and screams. Blood was everywhere.
As I fell into a deep
slumber, I was abruptly awaken by the sounds of feet and yelling. As I arose
from the floor, I looked out and saw a mob of people coming up the path
towards the cave where I was resting. They were following a trail of blood
that I left, which led right into the cave. In my bloodlust, I didn't think
of the consequences. Like a wolf that grabs a farmer's chicken, the pangs of
hunger are far greater than the thought of the consequences. Consciences are
for humans and this was something that I was not. My humanity was trapped,
deep in the body of fur and fangs.
As the group neared the cave,
I saw that the wizard who had stolen my beloved, was now leading the charge.
The people were chanting his name as if he was some great hero. They all
came equipped with weapons from swords to farming utensils. They came to
kill the beast and the beast was I.
A short issue, but this
summer is miserable for me. I am one of the handful that looks forward to
the fall and the cooler weather and kids returning to school. So you have
one more month of small newsletters to contend with before I can return to
my normal sized ones. Keep playing those games and get a little sun!