Total Recall was a fantastic movie, and so of course it got turned into a generic platform action game.
Now some of you might know that I’m a huge, huge fan of Streets of Rage. Then again with the way my diet’s failing lately I’m a huge, huge everything, but anyway. Streets of Rage is one of my favourite beat ‘em ups of all time, and I even place it above Final Fight! You know how much I adore Final Fight so that’s real talk right there.
But for some reason I never played Streets Of Rage 2 “back in the day”. I think by the time it came out I had gotten way into Street Fighter 2 and this game just kind of fell off my radar. It was re-released on the Xbox 360 a few years back and my main memory of it was that you had to sign out of Xbox LIVE while on one screen, sign back in on another and do all sorts of jiggery-pokery in order for your purchased copy to actually work. So it’s safe to say it didn’t leave a lasting impression.
Anyway! After the magnificent 3DS conversion of the original Streets Of Rage I did not hesitate to buy 3DS Streets Of Rage 2. And I love it! Mostly.
As a side-scrolling beat ‘em up, there’s very little that Streets of Rage 2 does wrong. Characters are large and well animated, there’s lots of variation in the backgrounds and environments you come across, and I love the way each character feels solid as you punch, kick, grab and throw them around. I love when in beat ‘em ups you throw a guy and any enemy in the way gets knocked over, that’s great. The four characters on offer feel nicely different and there’s sections in most levels that distinctly feel designed to give advantage to certain characters over others, which is an improvement over the first Streets of Rage. The “police car with a bazooka launcher” thing is sadly gone, but it’s replaced with a nice super attack move that lets you break out of being attacked at a small cost to your health bar, which is a mechanic I really like. There’s a new Relay Mode on offer, where your character selection automatically changes every time you lose a life, so you feel like the whole gang is on this adventure together. So that’s all peachy keen!
I just…I dunno, there’s something about the aesthetic of Streets Of Rage 2 that always struck me as off. The first Streets of Rage had a clear agenda – in the course of one night three renegades go across the city beating up all of Mister X’s goons before taking on the big man himself in his office building. It felt like a journey. Streets of Rage 2 meanwhile feels more like a big bunch of different levels that don’t really connect. One stage is on a pirate ship. Another is basically the second level of Altered Beast and you’re fighting aliens. Added to that problem is that many levels are broken up into smaller segments (presumably for memory concerns) and it feels a bit disjointed.
Also, one thing I noticed is that level design strategy is noticeably absent in this release. In the first game, many levels had holes in the ground or open sections that you could kick or throw enemies into, but you also had to stay clear of yourself. That’s lacking here, and it’s a real shame.
But who am I to complain – it still feels great. It’s a bloody solid beat ‘em up, probably the best in the genre, really. And the 3D effect is incredible, especially on the diagonally scrolling sections. It’s so cool how if you enable the old school CRT filter, the 3D effect emulates the curve of the TV screen, that’s such a nice little touch. And that soundtrack! Yes. Plug in the headphones it is spectacular to listen to. To be honest I still prefer the original Streets of Rage, but I’m sure that’s the power of nostalgia talking. And it’s what, a couple of bucks? Besides buying my comics you’ve got no better use of a couple of bucks, surely.
It’s finally here! I’m sure you’re already aware of the excellent Commodore 64 magazine Reset 64 (mainly because I keep bleating about it here) but I just wanted to let you know there’s a BRAND NEW ISSUE #7 OUT NOW! And I am super excited about it!
Not only is Reset #7 packed full of the latest and greatest happenings in the world of the Commodore 64, bursting at its 80+ page seams with reviews of new titles like awesome 2-on-2 basketball hoop ‘em up Jam It and previews of the next wave of great new releases, but the issue is also commemorates one of my favourite things in the whole world: Zzap! 64.
We’ve got a wide range of Zzap! 64 retrospectives in the mag. Former staff members Gordon Houghton, Paul Glancey, Steve Jarratt, Sean Masterson, Phil King, Ian Osbourne and founder Roger Kean all share their memories of working on the mag back in the day. A gloriously detailed history of the magazine feature taught me a thing or two, and I thought I had an obsessive knowledge of it! I (and along with the rest of the Reset team) wrote about how we came across the magazine in a fit of nostalgia. The best-reviewed games that somehow didn’t get Gold Medals in Zzap!’s history get looked at again, and there’s also a feature about those very silly people who made Zzap! #107 in 2002 when everyone thought that was a very silly idea indeed (cough). We even chipped in the money to fly out Zzap!’s original letters column editor Lloyd Mangram to take care of this issue’s letter’s page! WHAT
The first game to get a Gold Medal in Zzap! 64, the incredible Elite, is also featured extensively in the issue. There’s a look back at the history of the game and the glorious cover by Ant Stiller is just such a joy to behold. God damn, I know, right?
Another game that featured in the first issue of Zzap! and this edition of Reset 64 is Pastfinder. We each shared our memories of this classic game, and there’s also a brand new Blow The Cartridge comic about Pastfinder for everyone to enjoy!
But wait – there’s more! In addition to the excellent features investigating long-lost C64 games, mini reviews of some great new additions to any discerning C64 owner’s library, and Scorelord’s high score page – there’s a brand new ‘covertape’ to download!
On the disk are some absolute corkers to play on your C64 or emulator, including Pixel Pix (imagine a C64 version of Picross, and DAMN DO I LOVE ME SOME PICROSS) and Ant Stiller’s award-winning Abyssonaut! Oh yeah. It’s the good stuff.
Put away your credit card – all of this is FREE for you to download an enjoy! I know, right, I think the editor’s crazy, but who am I to get in the way of more people enjoying the great world of modern C64 gaming? Get stuck in to Reset 64 #7 now!
Hello again! Well, after last month’s marathon of retrogaming-related Kickstarter projects, I thought maybe things would settle down in July. I was wrong OH BOY I WAS WRONG!
Let’s get stuck into what cool projects are out there that might be worth your time!
The big Kickstarter news of the last few weeks of course is Shenmue 3. Now, I was never into Shenmue back in the day. I’m sure it was great! But it was never my kind of thing. However you can’t deny how big a story Shenmue 3 is and as I write this post the campaign is at like three gazillion billion megabucks or whatever I lost count who knows any more.
Commodore: The Amiga Years is an in-depth follow up to the excellent Commodore: On The Edge that interviews pretty much EVERYONE involved in making Commodore’s excellent home computers (and a few of their stinkers, too). The Amiga was such a fantastic, groundbreaking machine that really deserves better recognition in the history books, and I think this is a huge step towards that. (Just FYI though I was involved in the original Commodore book and I may be helping with the Amiga one, but even if I wasn’t I would be endorsing the hell out of it anyway)
Oh my god how cool is the Cinnamon 2 – a wristwatch that emulates an Apple 2 computer! It even has a little green screen and actually runs all the programs the original machine did! Who needs that fancy Apple Watch when you can have the original and best, right? Apple Watch has a couple of games, Apple 2 has hundreds! Finally you can play Karateka on your wrist. I love this!
The RetroClarity is an interesting hardware project – a simple box that you plug your older consoles into to get a much better picture quality on your modern HDTV. I really like how easy this seems to be to work – I’ve been put off finding HDTV-based video signal solutions because it’s all way above my head, so this could be a cool thing to have.
The Complete NES Collectors Book is, just like pretty much every other NES collection project out there, concerned only with the US games so it’s pretty much useless to players anywhere else in the world, but I still can’t help but be charmed by the care and attention that’s been afforded to it by the project creators. Oh and they’re also making a…RPG? About collecting NES games? I don’t know I just wanted the book.
Pinbox 3000 is the damn well silliest project on offer this month. It’s a pinball table that you assemble yourself out of cardboard and plastic and whatever bric-a-brac you have laying about at home. And it looks so damn fun! OK it doesn’t have online leaderboards or flashing lights or whatever but geez the idea of making your own DIY pinball table is just priceless. I love it!
Finally, Defect isn’t technically speaking retro but there are elements of it that reminded me of Morpheus and that’s enough for me. So, you build a spaceship out of hundreds of parts, and use it to defeat an enemy space ship. Sounds great! BUT! At the end of every level, your mutinous crew take over and kick you out, so you have to go build a NEW spaceship and fight the one you were just evicted from! I love, love, love this concept, and I hope you do too.
And that’s it for this month! I have saved you the effort of trawling through the dozens of horrible Kickstarter projects in order to find these gems, but maybe I missed something? Let me know which ones have taken your fancy (and money)!
Oh yeah, I totally forgot to post about this! A couple of weeks ago the 300th Blow The Cartridge comic was posted! Wow!
It’s pretty crazy to think that I’ve been doing this damn thing so long that there’s 300 strips now in the archive. It started off as a little part of my old comic Funny Webcomic and people seemed to like it a bit better than the other strips I was posting on there, so in 2011 I spun it off onto its own website. 300 strips, five print collections and two Kickstarters later here we are, still plugging along!
It’s been a fun ride and I’ve met a lot of great people along the way because of the comic, and that’s always awesome. Just by you reading a comic about retrogaming I know we already have a lot in common!
You never know what’s going to be a hit when you make comics all the time. Strips that I thought would go down a treat sometimes get completely ignored. Ones that I put, like, no thought into sometimes become huge.
I thought it would be fun if I looked back at some strips that I liked and some that make me cringe in terror. LET’S GO THIS WILL BE GREAT WHO NEEDS TO PAY FOR THERAPY
Comics I Don’t Like:
I think it would be fair to say that for the large majority of the first few years of Blow The Cartridge I really had no idea what I was doing. Like, I knew I wanted to make comics but…I didn’t really know what to make. Couple that with a stupidly aggressive posting schedule that made me literally only have time to go with the first idea that popped in my head, and…yeesh there’s some stinkers in the archive!
I mean don’t get me wrong I’m not doing the whole “oh all my old stuff is garbage, woe is me” artist nonsense. I look at most of my old stuff and can at least see where I was trying to go. But these ones I just shake my head at and look at myself disappointingly.
I have no idea what the joke is meant to be here. Joe can use his arms to…get busy with his girlfriend across the road? While he reads the paper? HOW DOES HE TURN THE PAGES IF HE’S HOLDING THE PAPER WITH HIS ONE GOOD HAND. Terrible.
This is stupid. I’m utterly ashamed of this comic. Marion gets punched and…why am I happy about that? Why did I ever even think it was OK to draw myself as a stick figure, let alone publish this garbage? Good grief. Burn it with fire.
There is no joke here. What the hell. How did people put up with me making this. And wow, I must have spent a whopping five minutes on the art here. Bravo, genius.
This game deserved so so so SO much better than this tripe. I couldn’t even spend five minutes at least trying to get the art style right? I guess I had some idea that I’d put my stick figure self into every comic? That’s crap.
I think there’s like, three people on the planet who know have played The Sims and know who Dave Sim is, and I’m one of them, and I hate this comic so I’d like to apologize to the other two people whoever they are. And Dave Sim, because he doesn’t deserve this.
Comics I Like:
It’s a simple visual gag but it still makes me laugh. I like comics that you have to think a bit to get the gag. And for some reason I was a bit anti-3DS when I made this? I love the 3DS!
This one I’m a fan of because it takes something from the game and makes a gag that you can think is weird even if you didn’t play the game at all. And then someone told me about how some other comic did the same gag, so I guess I’m not that much of a genius. Anyway, this comic was used in a Wonder Boy retrospective book that I never saw or got paid for so YAY MAKING COMICS IS GREAT.
Just really happy with the art on this one.
And I think it’s something we can all relate to, that sinking feeling we’re all getting old and nobody will remember you…
According to the internet I worked on a Crash game for a while that never saw the light of day, so I allegedly would have a soft spot for the character.
Now, if someone was to ask me to make a comic about Spyro – that would be a comic I would really love to make one day 😉
This turned out to be one of the most popular comics I’ve done even though Mario’s clothes swap colour in the last panel and I really should go back and fix that but let’s be honest I never will. And I’ll always be glad to know it made the likes of 9gag and Joyreactor a lot of money after they stole the comic from me and ran it with their own ads, that really warms my heart!
This was a really hard comic to make, and even now it’s a hard one for me to read, but damn am I glad I made it.
It really started getting me to think about actually saying stuff in my comics instead of just being about the game in question.
And really, what’s the point of making a comic if you have nothing to actually say?
Boy, did I cop a lot of hate for this one, though. I guess some people are never happy!
…So there you go! My best and worst stuff on display. Judge me if you will.
To be honest…my favourite, favourite, favourite Blow The Cartridge comic hasn’t gone live on the site yet – it’s about Street Fighter Alpha 2, and why it’s my best friend in the whole world, and you can read it in Super Blow The Cartridge.
Onward to the next 300!
Well, after the average lot of retrogaming-related Kickstarter projects we looked at last month and the month before I’m starting to wonder if it’s worthwhile even looking this month…let’s take a look…
JESUS TAPDANCING CHRIST look at all these great Kickstarter projects going on here! It’s absolutely crazy and I apologise in advance to your wallet because good grief you’re going to sink a ton of cash into these babies! LET’S GO
OK let’s get Bloodstained out of the way first it’s a new Castelvania by the Castlevania guy and it promises to be the most Castley of all the Vanias so that’s a thing you can support if you like the vampires all that stuff. Great can we move on now? Lovely.
Likewise I’m sure everyone on the planet has already heard about Yooka-Laylee the 3D adventure game done in the style of Banjo Kazooie because it’s by a lot of the people behind Banjo Kazooie and oh man you can just smell the nostalgia wafting off this one, can’t you? You just want to be young again and playing your N64 all Saturday because there was nothing else going on and sinking six hours to collect all the jingly janglies or whatever was a totally valid use of your time well sorry you have a job now and responsibilities and maybe you’ll get to play this for like twenty minutes while everyone else is asleep and it never ends, it just never ends, this constant nagging sensation that something went horribly wrong and I can’t see it and I’m projecting again aren’t I
A NEW BARD’S TALE FOR REAL! Not that jokey ha-ha Bard’s Tale we had a decade back but a real full on dungeon crawling thing I hope they have that bit where you see the disk drive light up whenever a random encounter occurs that would be neat. Yes! Bard’s Tale 4 I am genuinely, not even remotely sarcastically SUPER EXCITED ABOUT THIS. After the success of that new Wasteland I’m looking forward to this one for sure.
Did you know there were home computers in the ‘80s that weren’t the Commodore 64 or the Amiga? Shocking but true! One of them was the Spectrum and lot of people liked the Spectrum, in much the same way people like GoBots even though they could have bought Transformers. Anyway! The awesome people behind the fantastic (seriously, they’re amazing) Commdore 64 and Amiga Visual Commpendiums are doing a Spectrum book (called The Story Of The ZX Spectrum In Pixels) and it just looks delicious. DELICIOUS!
Hey, remember that time you woke up at 3am covered in a cold sweat screaming about how much the world needs a new Power Stone? YEAH IT HAPPENS TO ME EVERY WEEK TOO. Combat Core may be the solution to this, the world’s number one problem!
Arduboy is a credit card sized retro gaming system that looks like someone took a GameBoy and threw it in the oven for a few hours. Anyone remember shrinky dinks? That was a fun way to while away an afternoon until some parent would freak out we were putting chip packets in the oven all day. Anyway. This would be cool to have I reckon!
Retroberry Pi Strike is yet another retrogaming-themed Rasberry Pi project, but wait don’t go setting yourself on fire just yet – this one has a neat hook. They’ve built a 9-pin joystick adaptor into the thing, which means you can plug in your old Atari / Commodore 64 / Amiga joysticks and play the way the games were meant to be played! That is a cool idea, I like that idea. Maybe you will like that idea too!
Starfighter Inc is a space fighting game…with one of the original X-Wing designers on board! So that’s pretty much all you need to know about that one. Who doesn’t love X-Wing? Nobody worth knowing, that’s who. If you ever meet someone who doesn’t love X-Wing it either means they haven’t played X-Wing yet or they’re someone born without a soul.
Oh! This is a cool project! Intellivision V2 is taking some of the original Intellivision games and bringing them back – with the full blessing and help of the original designers and rights holders! Never being an Intellivision owner myself I have no idea what the quality of the original games are, but this sounds like a great way to get into the system!
Finally this month, fans of Myst need to check out Eyes of Ara, a very, very Myst-like experience that looks amazing. Now, full disclosure: I used to make the creator of this project live a hellish, nightmare-filled existence by being a member of my development team back in the day, so the guy deserves your support for having to go through that torture, but the game genuinely looks a treat and I think you’re really going to like it. Ben’s been working hard on this for ages and the final game is going to be great.
OK, that’s it for this month – you’re going to need a whole other month to recover, I think! What are your favourites?