December 2nd, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, ClayFighter, Interplay, claymation, Blockbuster, rental, Nintendo, Super NES, Mortal Kombat, advertisement, Electronic Gaming Monthly, 1993
"Hey, watch the hair, man."
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.
[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, 1993]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the best fighting game for the Super NES?
October 28th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, id Software, Raven Software, Heretic, Doom, FPS, BBS, advertisement, shareware, Halloween, Computer Gaming World, 1995
Killing the DEAD has never been so much FUN!
The Gothic fantasy atmosphere of Heretic excited me when id Software first published it as shareware episode in 1994. Either someone uploaded the game to my BBS or I downloaded it from another, but either way, I quickly found myself enveloped in a modem-to-modem online co-op Heretic session with a friend.
Fast forward 18 years later, and I played Heretic again — this time, the entire game (and again, co-op). The first episode is OK, but the level design for the others is incredibly tedious and disappointing. I can see now that it is a very mediocre game. But when first released, following hot on the heels of Doom, people loved it.
[ From Computer Gaming World, September 1995, p.61 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite Doom engine game?
October 21st, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, microdeal, Leatherneck, Tanglewood, screenshot, graphics, computer games, advertisement, STart, Atari ST, 1988
Microdeal's Leatherneck and Tanglewood for the Atari ST
I've never played either of these Atari ST games by Microdeal, but they look like fun. "Look" being the operative word. That's because, as we all know, a screenshot alone is a poor judge of a game.
In fact, I recall being burned by screenshots many times back in the day. While browsing at Babbage's or Software Etc. (former software retail chains), my brother and I would flip over various game boxes and ogle amazing, colorful in-game shots that would make us want to buy everything on the shelf.
If we did buy a game, we'd rush home and load it up. Nine times out of ten, those glorious box screenshots turned out to be the only pretty graphical scenes (often static) in the game. Or — even worse — the screenshots were from the uber-colorful Amiga / VGA / etc. version when in fact we were buying the Apple II version of the game (or we only had an EGA graphics card). Doh.
[ From STart, Summer 1988, rear cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever buy a game based on graphics alone — then come to regret it later?
October 14th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Sharp, PC-1500A, pocket computer, TRS-80, lost, Interface Age, advertisement, 1983
"From Sharp Minds Come Sharp Products"
It's no secret that Radio Shack licensed Sharp's pocket computer designs for its own TRS-80 Pocket Computer line of products. But here's one of the originals, circa 1983: the PC-1500A.
[ From Interface Age, November 1983, p.110 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever lost a pocket-sized gadget and regretted it badly? Tell us about it.
See Also: BASIC in your Pocket (RSOTW, 2009)
See Also: Asimov's Pocket Computer (RSOTW, 2011)
September 2nd, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Sega, Genesis, Sega Channel, cable modem, EGM, advertisement, 1995
"Get hooked in."
Since its debut in late 1994, the Sega Channel remains one of the most fascinating footnotes of video game history. Essentially, the system had two components: a hardware cartridge that a customer plugged into his or her Sega Genesis, and a premium subscription cable TV service (usually $14.95 a month) that provided a selection of games the customer could download.
Games, when downloaded, were saved temporarily to DRAM in the cartridge (which lost its contents when the system was powered off), and the customer could download up to 50 games a month. The service also provided news about video game releases in the form of text displayed on the screen. The information transfer was one-way, however, so Sega Channel could not provide truly interactive online content.
When news of the Sega Channel first hit, I called my local cable company as the ad suggests. Unfortunately, we never received Sega Channel service in our area, so I didn't get to try it out myself.
[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, September 1995, p.39 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever subscribe to Sega Channel? Tell us about your experiences.
August 26th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Durango, Poppy, Personal Business System, Personal Computing, advertisement, 1983
Rose vs. Poppy: Which would you choose?
I'll admit that I've never encountered a Durango Poppy in person, nor do I know much about them aside from ads like this in old magazines.
So I did some digging, and I found that the Poppy model seen here was an 80186-based system that ran either MS-DOS for a single-user setup or Xenix for a multi-user configuration. It retailed for between $4,395 and $11,475 in early 1984 ($9,881 to $25,798 when adjusted for inflation), which was quite a bit of money — but actually far cheaper than IBM's comparable offerings at the time.
A March 5, 1984 issue of InfoWorld available through Google Books has a neat article that mentions the Poppy.
I didn't realize it at first, but the rose in the ad above is meant to symbolize IBM. IBM's PC ads at the time featured Charlie Chaplin's Tramp character, which always carried a rose.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.213 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever purposely pass up IBM hardware for a cheaper alternative? Tell us about it.
August 19th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Mega Man, Mega Man X, Capcom, PC, CD-ROM, hadoken, EGM, advertisement, 1995
Digging up video games in a mall ashtray
I was a huge fan of Mega Man X when it first came out on the Super NES in 1993.
…Well, I rented it, anyway, and I played it more than any other side-scrolling Mega Man game before or since. I loved finding the secret Hadoken fireball power up, which I read about in Nintendo Power.
Much to my present-day surprise (even though I owned this magazine when it was new), Capcom produced a version of Mega Man X for the PC, and on a CD-ROM no less. Has anyone out there played it? I'm wondering if the adaptation was any good.
[ P.S. Shortly after writing this entry, I tracked down a warez copy of Mega Man X for the PC, and it's surprisingly well done. However, its utilization of MIDI music provides for a pretty surreal Mega Man experience — surreal in the sense that the tunes generally sound horrible compared to MM games that are famous for their music. ]
[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, September 1995, rear cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite Mega Man game of all time?
August 12th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Osborne, Osborne 1, portable computers, Adam Osborne, advertisement, Personal Computing, 1983
Walkin' [through the pearly gates / into an alien ship] with an Osborne 1.
See also: The Osborne 1 (RSOTW, 2012)
[ From Personal Computing, January 1983 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: If you could take any computer with you into the afterlife, which would it be?
June 24th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Tiger Electronics, barcode, Tiger Barcodzz, Power Rangers, electronic games, handheld games, advertisement, EGM, 1993
DUUUDDE, BAAR CODZZZZ, MAAN
Never played it, never wanted it. Amusing idea though. See also: Barcode Battler
[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1994, p.163 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used a barcode gaming device?
May 20th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Sega, Genesis, 32X, EGM, 1994, advertisement, Virtua Racing, Star Wars Arcade, Star Wars
Surely you have newer locks in your house.
I bought a Sega 32X for $30 new in 1995 or '96 at Toys"R"Us. They were on clearance because nobody wanted them. (I also bought a Virtual Boy for $30 this way around the same time.) There were good reasons why no one wanted them: chiefly, because better machines like the PlayStation and Saturn were out there, and most games for the 32X weren't very good.
Still, I have a soft spot for this system. It touches some fundamental nerdy part of me that likes convoluted electronic expansion modules — it means more to collect, and more to mess with. I have a bunch of 32X games, perhaps even half of the entire library for that system, but I rarely play any of them. I seem to recall the Star Wars Arcade title being pretty good for it. Virtua Racing wasn't half bad either.
By the way, the only explanation I can muster for the inclusion of the keyhole in the ad above is that it's some sort of sexual metaphor, much like those found in Sega's other 32X ads at the time (See "The Sega Mating Game," Retro Scan of the Week, 2008). In other words, I guess we're spying on a Genesis and a 32X having electronic intercourse.
[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1994, p.180 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: In an alternate universe where there was no Sega Saturn, do you think the 32X could have held its own against the competition for a few years?