#9-#15 Bust-a-Move games
Bust-a-Move 2 : Arcade Edition (N64)
Bust-a-Move 3DX (N64)
Bust-a-Move 4 (Dreamcast)
Super Bust-a-Move 2 (PS2)
Super Bust-a-Move All Stars (Gamecube)
Bust-a-Move Plus (WiiWare)
I’m big into puzzle games. Like millions of others I was bitten by the Tetris bug around 1990 when the genre was born and I have always picked puzzle games up ever since. I find it hard not to enjoy these – even those games that have garnered criticism such as Tetrisphere.
If I find a particular game enjoyable I will keep on buying different versions across platforms and will follow a series. The Puzzle Bobble or Bust-a-move series is a case in point – it being one of the most addictive. It has that great balance of luck and skill that makes the puzzle video game so great. I'm not going to insult readers with the description of the basic play features but I will cover how these versions differ.
#8 Addams Family (SNES)
Addams Family was an early release for the SNES and being a licenced game I avoided it at the time. That was my loss as this is a really solid game that would have really impressed me back then. This is a straight-up platform game but it has been blessed with a fair bit of attention to detail and overall effort by the developers which is refreshing to see. Even at the time of launch (the early 90s) loads of identikit licenced games were around - mostly poor Mario ripoffs. While this game does steal some ideas from the Mario series it is different enough to deserve some attention.
This isn't a linear platform game - you can tackle each of the game's goals in any order you like. You control Gomez Addams who must rescue 5 family members secreted around the house. Gomez is wonderfully responsive and "slidey" and has had some graphical attention paid to him. The character artwork mostly resembles the cast of the early 90s film, not the original film series and a pretty good job has been done here.
Gomez has a health bar represented on-screen by a heart meter. Initially you have 2 hearts meaning you can be hit twice before losing a life but there are 3 meter extensions to be found in the house too. In all then you have 8 goals to achieve each guarded by a boss - and I recommend you go for the extra hearts first as this game is tough.
While charging my Kindle up last week I left the 3G on and lo and behold I got a free upgrade to the firmware. The first thing I noticed is the font change (though this does tend to vary from book to book) and the fact that page turns are now a bit quicker.
#7 Parodius Deluxe Pack (Sega Saturn)
I started blogging on this topic with a shmup and here's 2 more. The 1st two games in this great and criminally ceased series are on this disk. This landed on my doormat this week - however I'm still gaining ground on covering my collection as this is a bit of an indulgence. I already have a PAL copy of this for my PAL Saturn but this Japanese copy is for my white Japanese Saturn. With an Action Replay 5-in-1 I can play the PAL version on my white Saturn but its nice to have the true 60Hz version - the intro sequence is slightly different but the main reason is the rumours that extended use of an AR 5in1 damages the Saturn expansion port as the PCB is too thick.
These are 2 great games - the first one is showing its age now but the second game is still an auditory and visual overload. Parodius is a spoof or parody of the Gradius games - the gameplay is the same but the graphics look drug inspired and the music is made up of weird remixes of classical and other well known tunes. I posted a fairly hefty review of this series on the original AA site which can still be found there as the staff here have kept that up. Here's the link : http://www.armchairarcade.com/aamain/forum_viewtopic.php?7.8391
Being shmups they suit the middle-aged gamer on a time budget and the kids like this series too due to the visuals but also the large array of characters you can choose to play with. I'm still chasing the 1 credit kill on these though - I find these games just as tough as the Gradius originals but somehow they aren't as annoying due to the overall oddness of these titles and the obscure Japanese cultural references they are stuffed with.
These games are also available on lots of other platforms including the SNES, PSP, PC Engine and PS1 (there's even a GameBoy port) - but I stick with the Saturn versions as it has a better reputation for handling 2D.
Looking at these games and considering my age I sometimes wonder if I'll ever really grow up.
#2 Combat, #3 Video Pinball, #4 Kaboom! (Atari 2600)
1970's TV games allowing the family to play Pong was one thing, the Atari 2600 was something different altogether. It still delivered the "family playing together" experience (indeed many first gen titles have no 1 player mode and quite a few offer 4 player modes) but now there was a whole library of games to choose from. It was the first truly programmable console and required you to plug in a cartridge - each one delivering a unique game (at least in theory!) The early days of the 2600 were about the family playing together - and nothing like it was really seen again until the Wii came along.
#1 Raiden Trad (Mega Drive/Genesis)
For those of a certain age, Space Invaders conjures up many memories. Arcades used to have rows of Space Invaders machines - those big dark rooms lit only by the glow of the screens hugged you and made you feel part of something. The success of Space Invaders resulted in a great many games of that type being created; and for some time the vast majority of video games were of the "shooting" type. Indeed "Space Invaders" is still the generic name for video games used by some of the older uninitiated population. A genre was born when Space Invaders arrived and its a type of game I still love.
I thought you guys might get a kick out of my students' latest YouTube video. These guys and gals are having such a blast in my English 403/503 class (Computers & English), and I'll be damned if they aren't making videos that are just as good if not better than most anything else on Youtube. Check it out, and please give them a comment or two if you like what you see.
The Houston Area Arcade Group - http://www.arcadecenter.com/ - puts on the Houston Arcade Expo each year. I have attended every year since 2006. Each year I have an absolute BLAST, and this year was no exception. The Expo continues to evolve, and I am more than happy to pay my dues every year. In fact, this year I elected to do a sponsorship. I paid extra to get a T-shirt and two passes for the entire weekend. I was fortunate that my girlfriend was happy to join in the fun. I went twice with her and once by myself. I took a camera and snapped a few photos. (All photos available here: http://picasaweb.google.com/ckrtech/HoustonArcadeExpo2009# )
Pixel Perfect Gaming has posted a very nice review of our book, Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time. Right now it appears on their front page, but here's the direct link to the review article for when it gets bumped down. I won't spoil what the reviewer has to say, but I certainly can't complain on this one. Don't forget, Vintage Games is still available from retailers worldwide, has its official page here, and an Italian edition here. Enjoy!