Weird Retro Mumblings: Sonic the Hedgehog on Game Gear was Strange

This post is in response to the most excellent Ian Shepard of Adventure Rules as part of their Charming & Open blogging community event

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m super into the community aspects of blogging, it really is one of the best parts of putting together these posts and I’m lucky enough to be brushing shoulders with some excellent like-minded people (although diverse in gaming habits and tastes) who take the time and courage to throw community events out there and cause a storm. The aforementioned Ian over at ‘Adventure Rules’ had been teasing followers with the promise of something blogger directed and social for about a week before releasing his ‘Charming & Open’ event, a sort of cultural exchange of questions; so whilst I asked him to reveal all about his guilty gaming pleasure, he posed this puzzler right back at me:

What is the first game you ever beat, and do you have special memories with it?

 … it really is quite a puzzler. Some of my first gaming memories relate to my Dad’s ZX Spectrum, and later the Atari ST (Which I mentioned in one of my much earlier posts). In both of these cases the games were either endless (ie. high-score based) or I simply wasn’t old enough to posses the skill & patience to cross the finish line of a single player experience. I turned to my first ‘proper’ gaming system, or rather sibling-shared gaming system, the battery guzzling behemoth that was the Sega Game Gear to find this memory. My first clearly remembered completion of a single player game was ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’, so it’s no wonder that my turbulent friendship with that attitude fueled blue mammal would continue well into the next generation and define the 16-bit era for me. Continue reading “Weird Retro Mumblings: Sonic the Hedgehog on Game Gear was Strange”

The Signal from Tölva: Sci-Fi Ambience

Even disregarding my own skewed interest in space exploration I think we’re due a resurgence of alien based sci-fi. Where the space race ignited the public’s interest in travel beyond our planet in the 50’s and 60’s, recent remote exploration in Mars and the discovery of exoplanets such as Trappist-1e has been trickling down into the public’s imagination and sparking that interest once again. In contrast to last year’s controversial ‘No Man’s Sky’ which attempted to generate an entire galaxy’s worth of planets, ‘The Signal from Tölva’ focuses on providing the player with an insight into one such imagined exoplanet.

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Crafting & Building: There’s No Short Answer

… the great thing about being so deep underground is that the zombie menace plaguing the surface isn’t really a problem… nor is day or night for that matter. Sure, the music might change and the voice-chat gets a little busier as my friends moan about the house being attacked or whatever (I call those “surface problems”). Occasionally my view of the rock face is cluttered by a message letting me know which of my friends has perished at the hands of the undead hoards, but generally it is peaceful here, just listening to the gentle taps of my pick-axe against the granite…

My recent gaming hours have been primarily spent in the slightly glitchy world of “7 Days to Die” (the remainder has been spent on a super-secret project .. Shhhh…), which is an odd choice because if asked “Do you like mining, crafting, and building games?” my instinctive answer is “no”. 7DtD is made a little more magpie-shiny for me as our regular mid-week gaming group have rented a private server so I don’t have need to attempt to engage outside my own social circle and we can really team up against the zombie menace; well, we could, right up until I started my hole, now I barely leave the confines of my tunnel empire. It began as a simple hillside cave with a vague plan that I could fortify it and it might be more secure than the house we’re currently residing in, but it has now become a tunnel network, gradually linking the various key locations around our assigned home, secured by metal trap-doors and far enough under the rock that I doubt even the most determined of walkers would even know I was there. The appeal of this ingame project is tricky to articulate, especially considering that over the years I’ve had a rocky relationship with the whole mining, building & crafting type games.

This is ‘Shaft A’ leading back up to the main house… why thank-you, it is nice isn’t it!

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QotM*: What’s the Best Easter Egg?

*QotM is a most excellent Later Levels initiative 

Like the trilobites from ‘Ecco the Dolphin’, Easter rockets around springtime, not quite knowing where to settle and so our thoughts inevitably turn to it around this time of year… possibly… it’s something to do with the moon and luckily my calendar always tells me when it is.

It is a special time of year for gamers when we all recall that legendary story of Warren Robinett & Atari for coining the phrase ‘Easter Egg’ in relation to a little game called ‘Adventure’; which I have never played. Since that fateful cartridge, whenever gamers think of Easter, we think of the many different hidden messages, features, jokes, and references that developers have carefully squirreled away into the lines of code; sometimes with the publisher’s knowledge and sometimes entirely in secret only to be unearthed many years later. Last year I took the opportunity to highlight a favorite subset of these mysterious little diversions when one game-world inexplicably becomes another. Continue reading “QotM*: What’s the Best Easter Egg?”

So long ‘Mad Catz’; at least I have my R.A.T. to remember you…

In an uncharacteristic move, I’m going to do something of a current gaming news type blogpost to lament the movement of staple game hardware manufacturer ‘Mad Catz’ from “Woooh! we’re a company” status, to “Urgh! We’ve filed for bankruptcy” as reported late last week. As a company they were dubiously renowned for producing opinion dividing products, specifically in their console market given some of the rants that I’ve just found on various forums, but it’s equally valid to say that anytime a company drops out of the market (particularly the less populated 3rd party gaming hardware market) we lose diversity & choice when it comes to how we bridge the gap between fingertips and machine. As gamers, when we’re wrapped up in that world, most of us would likely say that whatever control interface is forgotten… and that should be the goal of controller manufacturers… to make us forget that bridge from our hand to the game. I think this is why I struggle to write hardware reviews (as I discovered previously), the best compliment you can give many pieces of gaming hardware is that when it works, you forget about it.

So, in memory of fallen ‘Mad Catz’ (I’m avoiding making the 9 lives joke that so many gaming news sites have made) I’m going to give it the old college try and attempt to elucidate my thoughts on the R.A.T. 5 gaming mouse that has been a permanent fixture on my desk for the past few years.

Continue reading “So long ‘Mad Catz’; at least I have my R.A.T. to remember you…”