Tag Archives: 8-bit

My Policy on Save Scumming and Why Rewinding Does More Good Than Harm

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I’ve only recently been playing the NES and SNES games that come with Nintendo Online long enough to really use the rewind feature Nintendo introduced a while ago. On one hand I kinda do think it’s cheating when overused, but on the other hand the level of simple convenience it provides probably outweighs that.

Rewinding — wherein players can literally turn the game back to where they were from a few seconds to around a minute ago, is really just an extension of save states and the danger of save scumming that comes with it. It pretty much just builds a new save state every couple seconds. I’ve actually been playing quite a few ROMs on various emulators recently, and over that time I’ve come up with my own policy on save states that pretty much applies to rewinding too, but rewinding has a lot more uses that I wish were feasible in more modern games. Continue reading

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Pixel Graphic Resolutions

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When you’re playing an emulated classic game on PC like Sonic 2 or a really low-end indie game like Cave Story, do you run the games at full-screen or do you play them in tiny windows at their original resolutions? Recently I’ve found myself going from the former solution to the latter.

It’s one of those things I go back-and-forth on when dealing with low-resolution games. I’ve been having the same back-and-forth with whether or not to use CRT scanlines (currently I’m for them). Both have the same end goal: to cover up the flaws in games that were designed around really old and really small displays. Continue reading

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Video Game Anniversaries That Will Occur in 2015

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It’s almost become a tradition at this point. Upon the new year I like to look back and see what major games will have significant birthdays (meaning multiples of five). For the most part this is based on data from Wikipedia which does a fairly good job of chronicling game releases by year and month. Most of the games on this list are fondly remembered individual classics. Though, there are a few major franchise and platform anniversaries I didn’t even realize were coming.

The biggest is undoubtedly the 30th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros. and the American launch of the NES along with it. Nintendo doesn’t usually hold massive celebrations specifically for American anniversaries — they already celebrated the Famicom’s 30th anniversary in 2013, but it’s gotta at least do something for Mario. On top of that the Super Famicom turns 25 in Japan this year along with Super Mario World and F-Zero.

One thing that caught me off guard is how apparently great June of 2000 was. Several major PC games will be turning 15 this summer.

The biggest overall theme here is that 2015 is the 10th anniversary of 2005, which was a pretty great year for gaming. I hate “best year of gaming ever” conversations because I don’t think anything measures up to 1998. There have been excellent years since then though, and 2005 was one of them for me. Several of my favorite games of all time will be turning 10 this year, one of which hits that anniversary in a little over a week. In fact, basically none of my favorite games of all time came out after 2005, so this year I might be celebrating the last wave of truly great classics. Continue reading

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The Most Underrated Metal Gear Game

I don’t think there’s been a whole lot of attention brought to it, but the Metal Gear franchise turns 25 on Saturday, counting from the original MSX game’s release in Japan. 1up is doing a bunch of articles about it and a lot of other people are probably observing the franchise as a whole too, but I wanna give some attention to one part of it in particular – one that most Metal Gear fans haven’t experienced.

Every time something Metal Gear-related comes up I take the opportunity to try to convince at least one person to check out the second MSX game – Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake which came out in 1990. To sum up why, let me just say this: With MG2, Kojima basically made the complete original Metal Gear Solid, just eight years earlier, and on an 8-bit system.

With the exception of the Psycho Mantis fight and the 3D graphics, virtually everything you saw and did in MGS1 was already in MG2. The average Metal Gear fan’s experience playing MG2 now would be kinda like that of a Final Fantasy fan that jumped on at VII going back to play VI. If a Zelda fan got into the franchise with Ocarina of Time, going back to play A Link to the Past would be the equivalent here.

The MSX games are actually included on the HD Collection in the extras menu of Metal Gear Solid 3. The first time I played them I was blown away at how well MG2 had aged and how complex its gameplay was for a 1990 title released on a niche platform.

You pretty much sneak around exactly as you would in MGS1 – top-down perspective, cones of vision, soliton radar, and all the various tricks. The main thing that betrays MG2’s age is the fact that it doesn’t scroll, which makes tracking enemies a bit more difficult than in the later games. Otherwise it’s perfectly playable today, and even displays some of Kojima’s classic creativity with level design and problem-solving that you haven’t seen in any of the Solid games.

In fact I’d venture to say that MG2 employs more fully-formed and more inventive level design than MGS1, as if the latter game’s 3D graphics held back what Kojima could fit in there. Tricks like heating and cooling the key or the use of Nikita missiles feel like they were employed more intelligently in MG2. The areas in MG2 are also larger than those in MGS1 and probably MGS2 as well, giving players a greater sense of exploration. Especially cool is a section in the MSX game requiring direct reference from the manual and/or research into actual American POW procedures.

MG2’s only disadvantage compared to its successors is in my opinion the storyline. The plots in the Metal Gear games didn’t start to get so overtly byzantine until MGS, with the MSX storylines being relatively simple in comparison.

The original Metal Gear had story and writing about on par with most NES games. Metal Gear 2 did have a complex cast of characters – some of whom are direct predecessors to franchise favorites like Meryl and Naomi. The game even has thick explorations of cold war social interaction (remember, MG2 came out in the last year of the cold war), but it all doesn’t reach quite the same level as MGS1. MG2’s story is also a bit silly compared to the rest of the games. Maybe not as silly as MGS2, but the 2D graphics make it look more like a cartoon in conjunction with the stories these games are known for.

In terms of overall presentation though I like MG2 a lot. With the 2D graphics and having predated Yoji Shinkawa’s involvement in the franchise, it doesn’t have quite the same sleek art direction that made Metal Gear Solid attractive. Shinkawa redrew the character art in later releases to better resemble what we’re used to, but for the most part MG2 looks like kind of like a Shirow Masamune comic, like Patlabor or Dominion Tank Police. I will say that the game does have one of the better 8-bit soundtracks I’ve heard though. All the elements come together to make the opening cut scene look like a mid-90’s military action flick shot in pixels. You could call the game an 8-bit version of The Rock.

I’ll stop just short of saying that every big Metal Gear fan is obligated to play Metal Gear 2, but they definitely should give it a look. I actually rank it among my favorite games in the franchise overall. It’s definitely the title that set the framework for the whole series like A Link to the Past did for Zelda. If you’ve ever played the Game Boy color Metal Gear Solid (called Ghost Babel in Japan, and one of the best Game Boy games ever), MG2 is very similar to that game.

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