Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite Tetris spin-off game?
The Super NES / Genesis era coincided with a second golden age of third-party video game controllers and peripherals (the first golden age being the Atari 2600 era). If you browse through the Retro Scan archives, I'm sure you'll see quite a few.
One of the stand-out gimmicks of this era arrived courtesy of Triax Technologies: the Turbo Touch 360. Representing a series of controllers for various platforms (SNES, Genesis, and NES with IBM planned, but I'm uncertain if it launched), the Turbo Touch line relied on a touch-sensitive pad in lieu of a traditional D-pad.
Using the touch pad, you didn't have to physically push down on the D-pad to register movements; instead, you lightly slid your finger over the cross-shaped touch pad, sort of like a laptop touch pad. Ideally, this should result in quicker movements, but it could also result in more errors.
There was another supposed benefit to the touch pad technology as well. This 1993 Chicago Tribune article positions the Turbo Touch as a cure for game-induced thumb blisters (at the suggestion of Triax's marketing staff, as the article suggests).
I've heard a lot about people getting thumb blisters over the years while playing video games, but I've never actually seen it happen. That's because I've only heard about it through game peripheral advertisements. Such blisters are plausible, of course, but you'd have to push down on the D-pad very hard and rub it around over a long period of time. Maybe my thumb skin is just tough or something, but it's never been a problem for me.
(Full disclosure: I did get a blister in the middle palm of my hand by rapidly rotating a Suncom Slik Stick over and over for about an hour while playing Decathlon for the Atari 2600 in the early 1990s)
I'm not saying that no one ever got a thumb blister from playing a video game, of course (do a Google search) — just that it wasn't the epidemic that companies like Triax have led us to believe.
Call me skeptical, but I wouldn't be surprised if the the video game thumb blister meme originated as a marketing angle in an era that aimed to be loud, raw, and edgy (think "Play it Loud", Sega scream, etc.). What could be edgier than actually getting physically injured while playing video games? That's intense!
I actually own a Turbo Touch 360 pad for the Genesis that I never got around to trying for some reason (I bought it at a thrift store when my Genesis was packed away). Right now I have no idea where it is. Perhaps I should dig it out and put the promise of touch-fueled gameplay to the test.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever gotten a blister from playing video games? Tell us how it happened.
Here we have an ad for the Super NES port of Obitus (1994), a Psygnosis RPG for the Amiga, Atari ST, and MS-DOS originally released in 1991.
I'd like to say I've played this one, but I can't for the life of me remember if I actually liked it. I know I tried it, especially after first scanning this ad some years ago. Is anyone out there a fan of either the PC or SNES versions of Obitus? It sure looks cool.
Discussion Topic of the Week: In your opinion, what's the best PC to video game console RPG port of the 1980s or 90s?
I thought I had some Halloween-themed scans saved up for this year, but it looks like I don't. My magazines are in cold storage at the moment (buried somewhere under the Arctic tundra), so I can't get to them to scan a new one.
Time to fall back on some old scans. This looks pretty scary, right? I wouldn't like to run into that zombie warrior in person.
Thinking back, I recall that I scanned this particular ad for Seika's Legend in 2006 while working on my Game Ads A-Go-Go column (Simon Carless thought of that name, by the way) for the now defunct GameSetWatch. Back then, I didn't keep track of which issue each scan came from, so I'll have to come back later and update the post when I run across the ad in a magazine again.
As for the game this page advertises, I know very little about it. I just now played Legend in a Super NES emulator to refresh my memory. It is a fantasy-themed arcade beat-em-up similar to Golden Axe. It controls like sludge (your guy moves with the speed and agility of a slug) but has two-player co-op (always a winning feature) and is fairly fun if you have the patience to stick with it.
Me? I don't like walking at 0.3 miles per hour in a game, so I only played it for two minutes.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite beat-em-up game?
I took this photo around 1992 or 1993 not long after Super Mario Kart came out. I had rented the game from Blockbuster (See "Secret Cartridge Messages"), and I was amazed to see that the cartridge would save high scores (in this case, track records) between sessions.
That blew my mind a little, because it meant that the scores I saw on the screen came from previous renters of the game — I was playing against previous renters' track times! So when I set a new record on a particular track, it carried a little extra weight.
(It struck me, even then, that this sharing of scores between players formed a sort of primitive pass-along gaming network, and coming from a BBS background, that excited me.)
In retrospect, I am positive that the track record you see in this photo is nothing record-breaking in the broader competitive Mario Kart universe. But just getting first place — as a 12 year-old, first-time Super Mario Kart player — filled me with enough pride to take a photo of the game screen as viewed from my family's 1983 TV set.
Remember that this was the era when people used to take photos (with film cameras) of high score screens and physically mail them to Nintendo Power so they could be listed in the magazine. I'm sure that's where I got the idea to snap the photo.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever take photos of your video game high score screens?
My, oh my. What a blast I had with ClayFighter for the Super NES when it launched around this time 20 years ago — in December 1993.
I rented the game several times from Blockbuster and delighted my brother by forcing its Elvis-like character to jump repeatedly, eliciting a humorous"Uh-huh" sound every time. The graphics were great and the spirit of humor was plentiful in this claymation-based title.
The advertisement itself is a parody of an iconic coming-soon ad for Mortal Kombat on home consoles from 1993. Interestingly, I've never featured that Mortal Kombat ad in a RSOTW — that may have to be remedied soon.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the best fighting game for the Super NES?
I'm not a huge fan of Ultima: Runes of Virtue for the Game Boy. However, its sequel, Runes of Virtue II on the SNES (which was also released on the Game Boy) is quite an interesting action RPG to me — despite its general clunkiness. It feels sort of like a Zelda title set in the Ultima universe with Ultima VII-style graphics.
Just a small administrative note: I'm moving the Retro GIF of the Week column to Fridays. So expect the next entry in that column this Friday.
Discussion Topic of the Week: If EA made a new core Ultima game today (think Ultima X — and no, not the failed MMO), would you buy it?
I own a few QuickShot joysticks, but I don't believe I've used any of these particular models. Third-party console controllers weren't all that popular in the age of the NES (relative to the 2600 days, at least), likely because the NES's own pads (and the NES Advantage and Max) were so good to begin with. Same with the Genesis and Super NES. That fact alone probably killed a few third party video game peripheral companies that were hanging on from the Atari 2600 era, although the QuickShot brand lived on until the late 1990s.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did/do you commonly use third-party controllers for your classic video game systems? Which one is your favorite?
Discussion Topic of the Week: Tell us about your most novel experience with Mario Paint. Did you make any music or animations?
Here's a classic advertisement for Super Mario World 2 from the "Play it Loud" era. Baby Mario looks quite destructive.
In the mid-1990s, Nintendo tried to downplay its kiddie image and appeal to the "I'm-awesome-because-I-huff-Easy-Cheese" teenage set. The company's American branch formulated a new "Play it Loud" ad campaign to directly counter aggressive advertising from Sega.
Nintendo's new marketing theme focused on the stereotypical angsty "attitude" of youth in transition, which, in print, mostly translated to grungy fonts, eye-gougingly garish design, and scatological humor. Surprisingly to some, the campaign actually worked — Nintendo regained the lead in the 16-bit market right as that era was ending.
On another note, Super Mario World 2 is one of the best Super NES games, and definitely one of the most underrated. If you haven't played it yet, you're missing out on a platforming masterpiece. Drop everything and get yourself a copy. And don't forget to play it loud(ly).
Discussion topic of the week: What's the most underrated Super NES game?