Discussion Topic of the Week: What is your favorite Game Boy game?
I'm not a big fan of sports, and I'm not a big fan of sports games (Blades of Steel for the NES is probably my favorite — off the top of my head). But having grown up in the heart of ACC basketball country surrounded by great and once-great teams (UNC, Duke, NCSU, Wake Forest, etc.), I have a soft spot for the ACC and NCAA college basketball tournaments. I tend to watch a couple games a year.
So I can't tell you much about NCAA Basketball Final Four '97, because I've never played it. The closest I've come was NBA Live '97 for the SNES, and that was pretty fun for a basketball game.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite basketball video game of all time?
Back in 2007, I intended to write an article about the 10th anniversary of Monolith's Blood, one of my personal favorite computer games. Accordingly, I contacted Nick Newhard, the designer and lead programmer of Blood, and arranged for an interview.
For whatever reason, my interview with Newhard didn't take place until April 2008 via email. (That's probably why I shelved the project.) Since it's almost Halloween — and it's the 15th anniversary of Blood this year — I thought I'd share this little gem from my archives. It should be a treat for any Blood fans that might be out there.
I'm presenting this interview a little more sparsely laid-out than I usually do just for the sake of expediency. Some day I will write more about Blood, but until then, I hope this nugget of history will tide you over.
By the way, you can buy Blood on GOG.com these days for $5.99 (price at present). It runs great in DOSBox on a fast machine — make sure you crank up the in-game display resolution for greatest effect. The game is amazing in 1440×900 VESA mode on a widescreen monitor.
I heartily endorse the thorough and frequent playing of Blood, as it is one of the greatest PC games of all time — in my opinion, at least.
I've written about gratuitous and graphic video game advertising of the 1990s more than a few times over the years, but I never get tired of revisiting this wildly bombastic era in consumer marketing.
Here we see a nice ad for World Series Baseball 98 for the Sega Saturn, complete with front-and-center forearm scrape. I don't know about you, but this makes me want to play baseball. Injury sells.
See Also: Super Mario World 2 (2009)
Discussion Topic of the Week: Would a graphic ad like this make you more or less likely to play a certain video game?
I don't think I've ever played Tetrisphere. I'm sure I'll try it some day. But the game itself is almost beside the point here. Egad on the broken teeth, man. That is my worst nightmare.
Nintendo crafted this ad to be perfectly in line with the prevailing advertising style of the mid-late 1990s. Look back at a game magazine from that time and you'll see that almost every ad shows someone getting hurt, dismembered, or flagellated in some manner. And if not that, then they were too busy distributing boogers / urine / feces / something gross all over the place to feel left out. The edgy advertising trend started when Sega began purposely assaulting Nintendo's kiddie image in the early 1990s. And it spread. By 1996, even Mario games were advertised this way. Did you Play it Loud?
I covered this phenomenon to some extent back in my Game Ads A-Go-Go column on GameSetWatch in 2006 (especially "Proof that Video Game Companies Want You to Die"). The 90s were a time of growing pains — a sort of "teenage years" for the medium — when the game industry, gamers, press, and lawmakers alike embarked on an entirely new cultural exploration of mature themes in video games. I'm sure I could write a whole article on the subject, so I'll stop now and let you count your teeth.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your all-time favorite version of Tetris?