Archive for January, 2005

The List: Part 5

Monday, January 31st, 2005

We’re coming down the home stretch. I hope that I’ve at least given your Trivia Blaster enough ammunition to amuse/impress your friends over these last 5 weeks.

On to the final installment:


Savage is a cross between an RTS and an FPS. It’s a game that fused two genres to create a third. The game wasn’t as successful as it could have (or should have) been.

More information (and a demo) is available at the official site.


Tamagotchi was the original virtual pet of the late 90’s. I realized very quickly (yes, after I bought one…) that they weren’t really fun to play with, they were just annoying. Inexplicably, they seem to be trying to make some kind of comeback.

More information can be found at Tamagotchi Planet.


Tetris is one of those games that is simple enough to be played by anyone, and difficult enough to keep even hardcore players entertained. It’s an incredibly simple idea that just exploded onto the scene and has been cloned to every platform imaginable. Confusion over who owned the rights to te game sparked a lawsuit between Tengen and Nintendo.

Spinoff games from the series weren’t nearly as popular as the original, but include Hatris, Wordtris, and Tetrisphere.

exitzer0 adds: “Mindlessly addictive and immersed in controversy over ownership rights, this game opened the doors for all the non-traditional gamers. Even Grandma could play this one.”

Nightshade Part 1: The Claws of Sutekh

I couldn’t do a list like this and not put Nightshade in it. Nightshade is one of the best, most overlooked games for the NES. It amazes me that more people haven’t heard of it. Nightshade even managed to make the cover of Nintendo Power, and then managed to fade into almost complete obscurity. It’s a point and click adventure game that manages to be extremely fun without taking itself too seriously. Easily one of the best games for the NES.

More information is available in this review.

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

What the…? A game that doesn’t involve killing things, or questing for magic stuff to kill off some kind of dragon? Nope, Carmen Sandiego was all about the player becoming a detective and trying to track down criminals by following clues left all over the world. The only game I know of that came with an encyclopedia.

More information is available the official site.

World Class Track Meet

One of the first of very few games that used the Power Pad as a controller. Attempted to get the NES game playing generation up off the couch to play some games.

XBAND Video Game Modem

Not technically a game, the XBAND was a peer-to-peer gaming service for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. Ahead of it’s time, the XBAND didn’t last very long before it’s company (Catapult) was acquired by Mplayer, and subsequently shut down.

More information is available here, and here.

Final Fantasy VII

This is the first Final Fantasy game to appear on a non-Nintendo system, and was also the first to use pre-rendered movies to further the story line. This game is still considered by many people to be not only the best game in the series, but the best game made to date.

exitzer0 adds: “My introduction to Final Fantasy and it blew my mind. It is still one of my favorite games and I’m still not sure I have a complete grasp of the storyline.”

More information is available all over the place, you’d almost have to be living under a rock to not have heard of this game.


The game that came with the Robotic Operating Buddy, and one of only two games that is compatible with it. The other being Stack-Up.

More information is available here.

River Raid

River Raid was programmed by Carol Shaw, who is considered to be the first female video game programmer.

And that’s The List: fifty oddball, goofy, groundbreaking, or otherwise noteworthy titles. Thanks to exitzer0 and SSB_Master for all their help in making this list a reality!

The List: Part 4

Monday, January 24th, 2005

This week’s portion of The List features several games that had some kind of cheesy (and some not so cheesy) gimmicks. I’m a sucker for gimmicks, remember?

Sim City

Designed by video game visionary Will Wright, Sim City was one a neat little game that put you in charge of every aspect of running a city. Set the stage for many sequels and spinoffs including: SimEarth, SimAnt, and ultimately the enormously popular Sims series of games.

More information is available at Will Wright’s biography.

Skate or Die 2

Sequel to the ‘extreme’ skateboarding game Skate or Die!, the game featured an opening theme with lyrics!

Okay, that was kind of lame, let’s keep this train chugging!

Sonic and Knuckles

How cool is this? In an extremely visionary move, Sega released a game that could be hooked up to Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 well after their release to enable you to use Knuckles the Echidna as a playable character, changing the complexion of the game almost entirely.

exitzer0 adds: “Excellent foresight on SEGA’s part to code games ahead of time to accommodate a future expansion.”

Space Shuttle Project

Space Shuttle Project was a game where you would take a simulated space shuttle on a simulated mission to simulated space. Unfortunately, I never had any simulated fun with this ‘game.’ I said it was noteworthy, not great.

exitzer0 adds: “Great flight sim game… if you already work for NASA.”

Star Tropics

The bane of rental clerks the country over, once you progress so far in the game, you are instructed to place a letter that came in the box under water to reveal a secret code to allow you to continue. Unless you were the first person to rent the game, odds were slim that you even saw the letter, much less were able to dunk it in water. Bear in mind that this was before access to the Internet was widespread, so lots of people got stuck.

The code is 1492.


Starfox was the first game to use the Super FX chip to add rudimentary 3D support to the Super Nintendo.

More information on the Super FX chip can be found here.

Super Game Boy

All right, it’s not technically a game, but it is a peripheral that allows you to play your library of Game Boy games through your Super Nintendo on your television. Eventually supplanted by the Game Boy Player for the GameCube.

Super Glove Ball

The only ‘super’ thing about this game was the super way that the Power Glove completely doesn’t work with this (the game it was seemingly designed around) or any other game. The commercials made it look so cool, too.

Super Mario Bros.

Not the first game to star the now famous plumber Mario, Super Mario Bros. was his breakout game and managed to sell a ludicrous amount of Nintendo Entertainment Systems. I’m not going to go into much detail here, you know the story.

exitzer0 adds: “What can be said about this time honored classic. SMB almost single handedly brought about the home gaming market.” I would say that it mostly revived the industry that Atari built. -Ed.

More information is available at The Mushroom Kingdom.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

This game used the Super FX2 chip (a beefed up version of the original Super FX chip) to not only produce some interesting 3D effects, but also to produce detailed squash and stretch animation that is still technically impressive today.

Related link.

The List: Part 3

Monday, January 17th, 2005

In case you were wondering who this exitzer0 person is, he’s the one that helped me do the Game Box Resume project a little while back.

Miracle Piano

It’s a MIDI keyboard that hooks into your NES. The bundled game had several exercises to teach you how to play a real piano.

A bit more information can be found here.

Night Trap

It was the first Full Motion Game on the Sega CD. It apparently wasn’t very good, but it was a first.

exitzer0 adds: “Along with Mortal Kombat, Night Trap was one of the reasons for the ESRB. The FMV cut scenes caused great controversy in the gaming scene.”

Here is a review I found.

Mario Paint

Not technically a game, it was more of a creativity tool for the Super Nintendo, allowing users to create simple (and some not so simple) drawings and rudimentary animation. One of the few titles that used the SNES Mouse.

Some additional information is available here.


Pac-Man was the game of most of the 1980’s, hugely popular in it’s time, and still very well known today.

Had at least one song (Pac-Man Fever) written about it, was the namesake of a medical condition (Pac-Man Elbow), and invaded the consciousness of the populace in about a billion other ways.

An interesting quote I was able to find from the designer of the game (Toru Iwatani)

“The enemies are four little ghost-shaped monsters, each of them a different colour – blue, yellow, pink and red. I used four different colours mostly to please the women who play – I thought they would like the pretty colours.

exitzero adds: “Besides the fact that Pac-Man is a pill popper that sees ghosts chasing him (sounds like a bad drug trip), he goes from eating fruits and birds, but then he starts eating bells and eventually KEYS! Oh the indigestion. What may be even better than that is what the name almost was. Pac-man was almost called Puck-man… oh the hilarity those mischevious no-gooders would have performed.” “Think what the vandals would have done to the marquees…” -Ed.


Nothing too unusual here, just your average paper boy delivering papers to houses while being chased by dogs, lawn mowers, Death, remote controlled cars, and various other etcetera. No, the really unique thing about this game? The handlebar controller!

exitzer0 adds: “Quite possibly the worst neighborhood ever to be a paperboy in. It looks worse than being the paperboy in an Afganistan neighborhood. The arcade version of this game had one of the coolest controllers I can remember. It was the first game in my memory to use actual handlebars as a controller.”

Pit Fighter

Generic fighting game that was one of the first to use digitized images for the images of the characters.


One of the flagship games of the Atari 2600, the game was designed by video game icon, David Crane. Mr. Crane was one of the founders of Activision, and developed one of the most bizarre games for the NES, A Boy and His Blob.

exitzer0 adds: “Pitfall Harry, why don’t you walk around those pits and lakes? There is obviously room around them.” “But then we wouldn’t hear that amazing Tarzan yell!” -Ed.

More information is can be found here.


Love them or loathe them, the bizarre little monsters have almost completely sewn up the handheld market for Nintendo. The oddly addictive little game has spawned numerous games across three Nintendo systems, a comic book, an animated series, and a collectible card game.

More information is available here, and here.


How could I do a list like this and not include one of the first video games? Pong-Story has a ton of information on the history of this pioneering game.

exitzer0 adds: “This game was the ice-breaker to the home game systems.”

Scorched Earth

Easy to learn game with almost unlimited variety that managed to find its way onto nearly every computer I ever used in the late ’90s.

Amazingly, the game is still available for download here.

The List: Part 2

Monday, January 10th, 2005

Part two of the list is today. We’ve got gaming firsts, gaming worsts, and… I… couldn’t think of anything else that rhymed.

On to games 11-20!

Dance Dance Revolution

Rhythm based game that has taken the new gaming generation by storm. The game has an extremely small learning curve, but is difficult to master. Watching people play the game is almost as much fun as playing the game itself.

Responsible for, among other things, weight-loss success stories.

More information than you probably want to know about the game is available at DDR Freak.

Donkey Kong

Breakout game for Shigeru Miyamoto who is probably one of the most well known people in the video game industry. This game was also the debut of video game icons Donkey Kong and Mario (then known as Jumpman).

exitzer0 adds: “A great game that gets even better when you realise the name originated from a translation error for Stupid Monkey, the supposed original title for the game.”

I couldn’t find anything to prove or disprove that, but there’s also the idea that the name came from a garbled communication regarding the name Monkey Kong. Neither story has apparently been proven. -Ed.

More information can be found at the KLOV.

Donkey Kong Country

One of the first games developed that used 3D rendered sprites and converted them to 2D animations to provide a unique graphic quality on the Super Nintendo that is still impressive today.

I couldn’t find a review, but I managed to locate a speed run.

Root Beer Tapper

Notable for the unique control, the machine actually had beer tap controllers and a rail to rest your foot on to simulate a real bar.

You can play an online version here.

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

Notable as being probably the worst game ever made. The game was confusing and the game play was disorienting. I played the game for many hours when I was younger and never could figure out if I was making progress or not. The game was so abominable that millions of unsold copies were buried in a landfill.

exitzer0 adds: “Worst. Game. Ever.”

More information is available at Atari Age.


Everquest is not the first MMORPG to come around, but it is one of the very first to bring them to the mainstream. Apparently very addictive, it has garnered the label ‘Evercrack’ by the media and has been connected to at least one suicide.

exitzer0 adds: “The first great MMORPG and also the first great geek breeder.”

More information is available at the official site.

Final Fantasy

Popular lore goes something like this: Square was in dire straits, tottering on the edge of bankruptcy and was only going to produce one more game that would either make or break the company. That one game ended up being Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy not only managed to help to bring the struggling Square back from the brink of oblivion, but it also changed the face of the typical RPG.

exitzer0 adds: “This one is the only game right? You know, the ‘final’ one.”

More information is available at FF Classic


This is the first must have game for the N64, selling almost as many copies as Super Mario 64. It went platinum (sold one million units) in less than four months and reportedly sold around 8 million units total. Goldeneye is considered by many to be the best game for the system, and some still consider it the best game of all time.

And I never got a copy…

exitzer0 adds: “Nothing like the real Bond, but still an addicting game.”

More information is available at Goldeneye Forever.

Hologram Time Traveler

I was never… uh… fortunate enough to play Hologram Time Traveler when it was available in arcades, or when it was rereleased in DVD format. A very very odd game, it only gets a mention here because the arcade unit showed the gameplay using holograms.

More information is available in this review.

Maniac Mansion

Quirky game in it’s own right, Maniac Mansion has a large cult following, but that’s not why it’s getting mentioned here.

Maniac Mansion marks the first usage of the SCUMM Engine, which was one of Lucasarts’ workhorses. SCUMM been used in such Lucasarts games as Zak McKraken, Sam and Max, The Dig, and the Monkey Island series.

More information is available here(Maniac Mansion) and here(SCUMM)

The List: Part 1

Monday, January 3rd, 2005

For the next few Mondays, I will be bringing you a list of 50 video games that I think are important or noteworthy for one reason or another in 10 game installments. The list is kind of in alphabetical order, so no game is really more important than another as far as this listing is concerned.

There are a few caveats to this list:

1. I stopped at 50. I just had to draw the line somewhere. That’s probably why your favorite game didn’t make the list.
2. Just about every arcade and home game from the late seventies and early eighties could be considered noteworthy, but I wanted to give a slightly more interesting cross-section of gaming. This is another reason why your favorite game didn’t make the list.
3. Okay, so the list is a bit Nintendo-heavy. Take a look around the site and I think you’ll see why. This is the third reason why your favorite game didn’t make the list.

Enough of my blathering. On to the list!


A good but mostly unremarkable game except for one thing. Adventure is widely credited with the first easter egg hidden in a game. Before this, it was very uncommon to give the programmers any credit for the games that they produced. One of the programmers for Adventure (so the story goes) decided that he wanted his fifteen minutes of fame and put it in there anyway.

More information can be found at Atari Age.

3D Worldrunner

The only game that I know of for the NES that tries to use red/blue color seperation to generate a 3D effect.

I could never get it to work.

More information is available in this review.


Reportedly the military used a version of this game as a training device for fighter vehicle pilots.

More information is available

Burger Time

An example of the absolutely insane designs of early video games. A chef has to make burgers by stepping on the ingredients and forcing them to the lower levels all while being chased by a lifesize hotdog and egg.

Also has a disturbingly cult following.

exitzer0 adds: “Acid trip game of the year. The motions the foods made when they walked was just creepy.”

More information is available at The Church of Burger Time.

Captain Novolin

This is one of those games that tries to educate kids and be entertaining at the same time. I never had the pleasure of playing this game, but by all accounts, it’s not particularly fun and just barely educational. Well, it tried, I suppose.

One of the few reviews I could find is here.

Donkey Kong Jr. Math

Slap some math into an already established game/franchise and you have a guaranteed success right? Wrong. Donkey Kong Jr. Math took a mediocre arcade game turned NES port and made it less enjoyable by crowbarring math learning into it.

Here’s a review I managed to find.


Decent game that was among the first (if not the first) that was more popular with women than with men. Likely due to the fact that a woman was on the design team (although it’s said she didn’t really have much to do with the actual programming of the game).

More information is available at the KLOV.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day

Conker’s Bad Fur Day was Rare’s self-published title for the Nintendo 64 after Nintendo bought a chunk of the company. The game earned a Mature rating, despite the kiddy reputation of the console, and once Rare was acquired by Microsoft they retooled it for the XBOX to take advantage of the better hardware and XBOX Live.

exitzer0 adds: “Too raunchy for Nintendo so like the true rebel they were, Rare struck out on their own and then got extremely popular on, of course, the Nintendo. Nintendo, you got burned.”

More information is available here.

Crash Bandicoot

Synonymous with the original Playstation, Crash became Sony’s Mario, selling an obscene number of consoles. Crash played a large role in Sony’s early console success.

exitzer0 adds: “Crash is diffucult to quantify but appeals to a broad range of ages. Created an icon identifiable with the Playstation. I believe that not having a identifiable character is a downfall of a gaming platform, and was one of the contributing factors to the downfall of many systems.”

More information is available at the official site.

Crazy Taxi

Oddly addictive game that saw you driving your taxi around San Francisco and taking people to their destinations. It was taxi driving, but it was EXTREME
taxi driving and was different enough to be compelling. Spawned a home console port and two sequels and then vanished off the face of the planet.

More information is available in the IGN Dreamcast review.

Come back for part two next Monday!

The New Year

Sunday, January 2nd, 2005

I have a rather large update in the works, but it’s not quite finished. Until it is, might I recommend you peruse the Howard and Nester Comics Archive.