Project: Retro Rewind

Now that I’ve completed all the games on my 64-bit Generation playlist, I’m excited to announce a new project. Before I dive into what is, for the lack of a better term, the “128-bit era”, I’m going to take some time to do a bit of a refresher on some of the generations I’ve already covered on this site.

In one of my very first posts, I lamented about my experiences as a child with various arcade games. Having been born in 1978, I grew up in the golden age of video games. The first video game I ever had the pleasure of playing was the arcade version of Centipede. The local Pizza Hut had one and I remember being seduced by the flashing lights and hypnotic sounds. Then, by the time I was in the first or second grade, my parents got tired of all my begging and pleading and finally brought home an Atari 2600 console. And as they say, the rest was history.

As I mentioned above, I briefly touched on this in some of the earliest posts on this site. But instead of discussing the Atari-era at great length, I jumped right into my NES playthroughs. So, what I’m going do is “rewind” the discussion on this site for a bit. I’m going to go back and revisit each of the classic retro consoles. For the systems I didn’t talk about the first time around, I’m going to discuss some of their most iconic titles. This means I’m going to be taking a a closer look at the Atari 2600 and the Sega Genesis, for example. For consoles that I did discuss, I’m going to be digging up some of the more obscure, but still classic titles. I’m going to do the same with some of the classic PC games that neglected to mention.

I’m also going to discuss how players today can best experience these retro classics. I feel that the time is right for this discussion. At the time I started this blog in 2012, retro gaming was still something that only us old grognards seemed to care about. Now, it has reached the mainstream.  Retro console reissues like the NES Classic and the Atari Flashback are flying off the shelves. Collected works like the Mega Man Legacy Collection are seeing the light of day all the time.

I’m going to take a brief pause from the backlog to discuss some of this, before resuming my regular routine. Stay tuned!

Update: Turn of the Century Wrap-Up

I know… I said it last December. But this time I mean it. My “turn of the century” playthrough reviews are almost at an end. I thought I’d be done with these reviews at the beginning of the year. But, my plans were delayed by the building of my new PC. Then, a change to my work routine caused a huge reduction in my gaming time. Plus, every time I think I’m coming to a reasonable end of my backlog, a few games pop back up on my radar. But finally, the end of the PS1/GBC/N64 era is upon is. I am down to what I call the Final Four.

By the end of this month I will be posting three reviews:

For GBC: The Legend of Zelda – Oracle of Seasons/Ages

For PS1: Legacy of Kain – Soul Reaver

For PC: Forsaken (Remastered)

The Zelda titles have been on my list from day one. Soul Reaver should have been, since I reviewed the original game a while back. But somehow I overlooked it when making my list last year. Forsaken was a bit of a surprise. This was a game I enjoyed when it was originally released, but there just wasn’t a decent way to enjoy it on modern hardware. Then, out of nowhere a remastered version was announced and released by Nightdive. This update merges content from both the PC release and the N64 version of the game. I simply couldn’t pass the opportunity up, so I added to the queue.

The end of this month will also see  the long awaited release of the Shenmue I and II remasters. I never owned a Dreamcast, so I totally missed out on these classic games back in the day. Since they also fit into the era of games I’m currently reviewing, I naturally decided to include them. I have them preordered and I plan to dive into them on day-one.

Once these Final Four reviews have been posted, I can finally close the door on this era of my backlog. However, before jumping into the Game Cube/ GBA/PS2/Xbox generation, I do have a few miscellaneous things that I would like to do. 

Before proceeding, I’m going to do a quick “catch-up overview” of the previous eras that I’ve covered so far. For example, while discussed, I never had the chance to fully share my thoughts on a handful of ATARI 2600 classics for example. I also want to cover a few of the more obscure PC and console gems that I might have missed the first time around. Of course, I’ll still be peppering in a few modern reviews here and there.

In a nutshell, I fully expect to begin the 128-bit era at the beginning of next year… Yes, I know. A year later than expected. But I’m getting there!


Site Updates

I’m currently undertaking the task of trying to make the site a bit more uniform. The next week or two will be slow as I am pouring through the archive of posts and making formatting corrections, etc.

Many of the original posts on this site were migrated from my old blog and there were still some nagging layout problems that I’ve always wanting to correct. I’m finally taking the time to do it.

Once this is complete, I have a several reviews to post. The GameCube/PS2 era is just around the corner!

Site Update!

Quick update! I’ve recently added a few new tabs to the front page: Twitter, Backlog, Streams, Radio, Record Shelf, and Pantry. Here’s a quick rundown on what these new areas are for:

TWITTER: An embedded link to my twitter feed.

BACKLOG:  I’ve finally done the unspeakable and posted my complete game backlog. This is an exhaustive list of every game that potentially interests me. Please understand that this list not necessarily represent every game I intend to play or review for this site. But it’s instead more of a personal list of title I find significant for one reason or another. As usual, if you have a favorite game that does not appear on this list and you think it should. Leave a comment.

STREAMS:  Yes. 2018 is the year that I intend to finally start streaming some gameplay. I’m not sure to what extent, but I do have plans to give this a try. I want to be clear, I’m a fan of the printed word. I think games are best reviewed in print. But, a few live streams here and there might be fun. We shall see.

RADIO: The RetroSensei podcast is dead. I really enjoyed making it and Short and I really had some good discussions on the show. But, to be completely honest, it required a lot of time and work. Time is something that is in very short supply for me these days. So instead of podcasting, I’m currently cooking up an alternative that will not require such a strict schedule.  More on this and what it entails later. Stay tuned.

RECORD SHELF: This is simply a repository for all of my album reviews.

PANTRY: This is simply a repository for all of my “Nerd Fuel” coffee reviews.

New Year 2018 – Update

Well, 2018 is finally here. My last full “update” post was in Spring of 2017. Prior to that, I posted one in Fall of 2016 where I outlined my plans for the next year. I’m happy to say that I pretty much managed to keep my promises as far as progress on my backlog. I had hoped to be finished with the PS1/N64 era by the end of 2017.  I fell short of this goal by just two games, Parasite Eve 2 and Xenogears.  I’m playing Parasite Eve 2 now and I expect to be finished within a week or two. Hopefully, Xeno will be complete by the end of February and I can start the next gen in time for Spring! (But knowing my track record, that probably won’t be the case…)

So where does that put us? Well, allow me a moment to explain how exactly I choose which games to play. First of all, I make a list of popular or important titles by system. Then, I break them down by year. Games that I want to play or games that tie-in to other reviews on this blog take priority. After that, I finish up the remaining titles on my list. Before moving on to the next generation, I check to see if there is anything that I may have overlooked. If a certain title catches my eye, I’ll play it

To date, I’ve covered, NES, SNES, Gameboy, N64, PS1 and 80’s-90’s PC titles. Of course, I occasionally throw in new game review or go off on tangents that take me to more modern systems (my Final Fantasy and Castlevania reviews for example).

Occasionally, I get emails from people to the effect of “How can you not play [your favorite game here]?? It was only one of the best games for the [your favorite system here]!!!” – Well, as much as I’d like to, it’s simply impossible to play EVERY game for every system. So, I pick the ones that I feel are important and go from there. Once I’m all caught up, I do plan to go back and fill in some gaps. Heck, I might even do so before I conquer the backlog. It’s my blog after all… But I have to set some type of limitation. If not, I’d be stuck on the PS1 era forever. There were SO MANY truly fantastic games released for that system alone.  Plus, skipping a few titles has actually worked out very well for me. For example, one classic SNES game that I did not review was Street Fighter II. A game loved by many gamers my age. I too have very fond memories of sitting on the living room floor with friends, playing that game until all hours of the night. But I just didn’t have time to fit it in with all my other reviews. Well, in a few months we will be treated to a special Street Fighter Collection by Capcom. This release is the perfect time to revisit that game, as well as other titles in the series!

So what lies ahead. Well, for the immediate future I do plan to post my reviews for Parasite Eve 2 and Xenogears. These will be my final Sony PlayStation reviews from the backlog list.  I’ll end the era with a look at Tomb Raider 4 and 5 for PC. Then it’s on to a very brief catch-up on some Game Boy Color games (Pokemon Silver/Gold/Crystal, and The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages/Seasons).  Once those are out of the way, we move on to the next generational phase, which consists of: Nintendo GameCube, Playstation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance, and various PC titles from 2000-2005. I expect this phase to take me into late 2019 to mid 2020. Some of these systems have very few games worthy of mention (looking at you, GameCube and Xbox), plus the time gap between eras is getting much shorter and some of the key titles from that era have already been covered.

I do have a couple of planned side-treks. First, at the end of this month a new game in the Final Fantasy series is being released, Final Fantasy Dissidia NT – a brawler that features Final Fantasy characters. I want to dive into this this game as soon as it comes out. But before doing so, I want to catch up on the Dissidia series. So I’ll be reviewing the first two Dissidia titles in the next few weeks.

Second, I have a VERY strong suspicion that 2018 will see a remastered version of Shenmue. This is a rare and beloved Dreamcast title that I never had the pleasure of experiencing. I fully intend to check that out at release as well, assuming of course that the rumors of it’s release are actually true.

Finally, I want to play and review a few classic PC titles from the Ultima and Elder Scrolls series that I neglected to play through. Not to mention, I have a brand new Nintendo Switch to explore…

I may try to fit many of these side-treks into the space between my generational playthroughs.

Oh! And let’s not forget the seasonal reviews! Something flirty and cute for Valentines Day and something spooky for October.

So yeah, welcome to the confusing world that is my mind.

Blah… backlog. May I live to see the end.

Games aside, my blog will continue to host reviews and discussions on other subjects of interest. D&D, music, Star Wars, coffee, and film. Yes! 2018 will see the debut of television/film reviews. Again, these will most be nostalgia trips. But most of my traffic comes from retro-related reviews and discussions.

So there we are. If all goes according to plan, we will be ready to start Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 sometime around 2020! How’s that for long-term goals?

House Cleaning – Looking towards 2014

As the year rapidly comes to a close, I’ve taken a little time to do some major housekeeping on this blog.

First, I’ve eliminated some of the silly review designations (Retro review, catch-up review) – I decided that a game review is a game review regardless of how old or new the specific title is.

Second, I’ve also added a list of related games to bottom of each review. For those games that are part of a series there are now links to other reviews in the franchise. This list will be updated as I complete reviews going forward.

Also, with the start of the new year, I’ll be making more non-game related posts. When I first started this blog I had the intention of creating a place where I could wax nostalgic about the games I loved growing up as well as other things that are near and dear to my heart. My children are now at an age where they both enjoy gaming. My youngest son is only five, but he enjoys playing casual games on the iPad. My older son enjoys playing computer games and is currently a huge fan of WWE games on the Xbox.  I plan on blogging a bit more about what they are playing as well as addressing other topics that are relevant to both Geek Culture and parenting in the digital age.

When it comes to reviews, if you’re a reader to the blog (I do have a handful), its probably obvious that I’ve focused a lot of retro gaming. What I’ve actually been doing is playing catch-up to a degree. I wanted this gaming blog to cover games both old and new. I decided to start with the games I grew up with and then gradually catch up to modern releases. this would help show the evolution of gaming during my lifetime, which is something that fascinates me. For the most part I’ve been very successful in this. So far on this blog I’ve replayed and reviewed the majority of games that were really relevant to me growing up. We’ve covered NES, SNES, Gameboy, and even some of the early PC titles from my teenage years. We’re quickly coming to a very important point in my gaming history… the dark years.

The “Dark Years” really began as teen. When I was around 16 years old, my focus shifted from gaming to more important matters for a teenager (ie: girls and Rock n Roll). It was during this time that I turned away from console gaming and picked up PC games instead. (That’s where we are currently in my review cycle). Even though I was no longer interested in the console market, they still existed and the market was growing. While I was spending my late nights blasting away at friends in Quake on the PC, the Sony PlayStation was surging in popularity. The Nintendo 64 was released, and the Game Boy color and Game Boy Advance were on the scene. This means that there were games, in franchises I love, that I overlooked.

I started console gaming again after my marriage, and I did catch up a little on some of these “dark years” titles, mostly Final Fantasy games,but there’s a large majority of games I never played the first time around. That will be next focus of the blog. I hope to start my “Dark Age of Gaming” reviews shortly after the first of the year. Then, my goal will be to catch up with games and franchises that interest me, later in 2014. Hopefully, by the end of next year, I will have knocked out most of my backlog and reached a point where I can focus on new titles as they are released. Of course, this will be easier said than done. But let’s see what happens.

Post Christmas 2012

Well, Christmas 2012 has come and went. Being a father these days, I tend to view Christmas much differently than I did as a child. As a kid, Christmas was HUGE. It was like the Mecca of all days. I remember the excitement that I used to feel when I’ve rush out to the living room to see what goodies Santa had brought the night before. As a dad, I try to make it my goal to recreate that same level of energy for my kids. It’s not easy with money being what it is, etc. It seems like no matter how much you do or how many gifts you get, it’s never enough. I’ve come to learn that while I might feel this way, the kids don’t. Most children are oblivious to things like finance and they don’t seem to be keeping a tally of gifts. Regardless, I decided to start early this year so I could maximize the number of gifts under the tree. My wife and I hit all the black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, and really snagged the best deals we could find.

All in all, my kids made out like bandits this year. As you can see from the pic above, the youngest got a HUGE cardboard castle and tons of various toys, the type that most four-year olds tend to enjoy.

My oldest, the gamer, received that Wii U that I mentioned a while back. I got him the white model (basic set) and a copy of the Scribblenauts Unlimited game. He also snagged a copy of Paper Mario: Sticker Star – courtesy of his mom. Both boys will also enjoy a little time away from the TV thanks to a new 14-foot trampoline. (Even gamers love to bounce).

As for me, my wife gave me a gift card for the PSN store. Which I promptly used to purchase some classic titles that were missing from my physical PS library. Namely, Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil: Director’s Cut. On the PC front, I really hit the Steam holiday sale pretty hard and bought myself a few PC titles.

All in all, it’s going to be a lot of fun being the “8-bit Dad” in the coming year.

Now that my legacy Castlevania playthough is all done, I’ll be posting my first impressions of the Wii U. As well as, some updates to other things game-related, so stay tuned.

Merry Christmas to all my readers.