RetroActive Round Up
Hello everyone and welcome to “Storming the Castle,” a new collaboration between three similar, but also very distinct minds. Allow us to introduce ourselves:
Johnny De Alba: “Retro Gaming Corner” columnist and viral article creator extraordinaire! Johnny manages to find topics so obscure and inconceivable, you can’t help but gawk in sheer amazement. How does he find this stuff?
Zack Smith: Scribe of “The Completist” column. Zack manages to write articles that are so long, even people who read Robert Jordan novels can’t get through them without a dictionary and a bowl of popcorn.
Paul Potvin: Author of the insanely prolific “The Fair Shake” and “What The EFF is on this Disk?!” columns. Paul posts his articles with the punctuality of a German train. It is rumored that if he ever missed more than two weeks 1 More Castle would spontaneously implode due to lack of content.
Now that we have introduced ourselves let me briefly explain our mission: we want to do something a little different, at least by 1 More Castle standards. Thus the name “Storming the Castle.” Sure, you’ll see plenty of retro games and retro inspired items, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. So without further intro bloat let’s start by shaking things up a bit with something 1 More Castle has only occasionally touched on before: some NEWer retro games!
Abobo’s Big Adventure takes the player on a wild ride, playing as Abobo from Double Dragon fame. In this game, Abobo’s son Aboboy is kidnapped. It is up to him to fight through heroes and villains from various NES games. It is a mash up of many games, ranging from Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Punch Out, and Mega Man. It is what GameSpy has described as the “mother of all 8-bit homage flash video games.”
What makes Abobo’s Big Adventure unique is the game play begins as a beat ’em up. From there it takes on a variety of styles. You never know if you’re going to play a scene from the Legend of Zelda or if you’re going to have to box an enemy in the style of Punch Out. You might find yourself carefully planning a jump in Mega Man’s world.
The second stage involves Abobo traversing through a mock water environment. The same as players of Super Mario Bros. would come to expect. Don’t get too comfortable with the stage just because it seems familiar – electric seaweed may block your path. The same electric seaweed found in the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
There are a variety of enemies in each stage. Some of them will attack as you would expect. Others might have a new set of moves. Friends from the Legend of Zelda such as the Old Man might be your worst enemy. The game is so diverse with its nostalgia it in effect creates a powerful new experience.
There are a ton of things that give this game plenty of replay value. There are achievements players can unlock if they perform a certain task correctly. In the part of the game where it becomes The Legend of Zelda, Abobo can block an enemy projectile with his shield, thus unlocking an achievement. The more Abobo attacks an enemy, the stronger his rage meter becomes. A full rage meter allows Abobo to perform different sets of unique attacks, most of which can kill all enemies on screen.
With the different worlds Abobo encounters, it can be difficult for a younger player to adjust. Game play changes so much at times a player would have to already be accustomed to what’s thrown at them. Some of the stages require extensive knowledge of old NES games in order to navigate. Some of the humor of the game features jokes only a NES fan would understand. The upside is the game play is enough to hook anyone. What’s better is it doesn’t require an emulator, or a download, it can play right through your browser. It’s the ultimate fan-made game.
Imagine a dark and foreboding castle where knights patrol the musty halls and ghosts lurk in the shadows. Treasure awaits you in every unknown space and skeletons creep along like maggots, crawling to a rotting corpse. A word to the wise: choose your path wisely because there is no Xerox in the world of Rogue Legacy. The game is a chaotic, dungeon roll of the dice every time you kick off. It’s truly a wonderful flurry of randomization. Seeing what lies in the depths of its many expanses is always a jolt of pure surprise. A true 8, yet also 16-bit-like experience that sucked me back to the ancient dungeon crawlers of yore. Thank God, or rather, Cellar Door Games (http://cellardoorgames.com/blog/) for this gem of nostalgic, retro charm.
You see, Rogue Legacy is old school in its “Roguelike” effort to entice the player. The spaces you traverse are similar but never an exercise in equality. However, unlike most “Roguelikes,” Rogue Legacy lets you preserve some of your spoils. Yes, you must turn over your unspent wealth to the Guardian of the castle as a “new game” tax, but enabling you to hand down your equipment and character stats to your next of kin can turn the experience into pure Heroin. That’s right, along with a magically randomized province, Rogue Legacy also randomizes your Avatar. You will seemingly never experience the same character twice. The varieties of your brethren are many and their abilities quite nuanced, but you should find enough in common with each recurring generation to keep the fire glowing for that “One More Castle.”
Rogue Legacy was my personal fixation for what felt like eons. My own joyful enslavement to clever game design and hook after hook of customization options that made my serotonergic neurons fire with glee. The farther down this pit I fell, the more of a devotee I became. Let me be frank: Rogue Legacy is worth your time. Whether you crave side-scrolling, retro themed dungeon plodding or a simple jaunt through a ferociously addictive diversion. Rogue Legacy should have no trouble keeping your attention for at least long enough to justify the $15 pittance requested for entry into its dungeon. Buy yourself an early Christmas gift and give Rogue Legacy a fair shake. Doh, sorry Paul! That was your line!
FTL. What’s to say? (EF TEE EL? or is it Fittle?) Another “RogueLike” game that happens to be my every-other-nightly game to binge on for about six months now. Released late last year with the help of Kickstarter funds, the game is best described as part Command and Conquer, part Rogue and part Star Trek, with a small dash of ‘Choose your own adventure’ books.
The game involves you as captain of a ship running from a rebel fleet with some data that the remaining Federation (not that one) fleet needs. It plays similar to the older real-time strategy games like Warcraft and Command and Conquer. Not only do you control your ship in ‘head on’ combat by firing weapons, you also direct your crew. Board the enemy ship? Repair your damaged systems? What to do? My favorite tactic in the game: Hide in your sickbay, open the airlocks all over your ship, and let any enemy boarders slowly choke to death as they try to break in your sickbay.
The graphics are simple and clean. The controls are very easy to pick up. The music. Oh wow. The music! I’ve been known to have the soundtrack blaring down the barren hallway of the warehouse I work at. My boss loves it but has no idea what it’s from. (Hint: it’s here. Listen!)
After over two hundred attempts, I’ve ‘beaten’ FTL twice. I’m not sure if that’s a testament to how hard the game is, or how much I stink. I’ll pretend it’s a bit of both. Game time can range from two minutes to two hours, depending on how quickly you move and if you’re ‘lucky’. It has staying power, and an active mod community if you’re into that sort of thing. Want to command a space ship and delegate duties while running from an enemy fleet? Give FTL the fair shake! (my line, Zack!)
In closing, three ‘new’ games that have a retro feel. One doesn’t need to live in a bubble surrounded by N64s and Atari consoles, although admit it, that would be a sweet bubble. Now when your friends ask you if you play anything new, you have something to show them!