Retro Gamer Magazine | The Essential Guide to Classic games
The only magazine in the UK that’s fully dedicated to the halcyon days of classic gaming. Keep up with informative and in-depth stories, access to legendary developers and its sheer enthusiasm for the games it covers.
This week’s Retro Spotlight on the forum is Nintendo’s arcade classic Donkey Kong, which is a fascinating game for all kinds of reasons. In the Eighties it was subject to all sorts of battles, as Universal unsuccessfully sued Nintendo over copyright infringement, while Atari and Coleco clashed over conversion rights. In the arcades the game has been the battlefield for vicious high score competitions, featuring stunning victories and astonishing allegations of cheating, and even inspired the documentary The King Of Kong. Donkey Kong himself went on to become a huge gaming star in his own right, appearing across a variety of platform games and a series of bongo-based music games for the GameCube. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the little bloke you play as, some guy named Mario. We don’t quite know what happened to him later on. If you fancy chatting about the game, just click here to go straight to the thread.
Incidentally, one of our favourite versions of Donkey Kong is the excellent Game Boy game, which starts off like the arcade game before becoming an astonishing original puzzle platformer. And issue 196 of Retro Gamer is out today, with Nintendo’s green-screened masterpiece on the front cover. Pick that up in all good newsagents, or order it directly via My Favourite Magazines here.
Many videogames have had plots involving a character having dreams of apocalyptic terrors, but few have been directly inspired by them. Yet that’s exactly what drove Atari’s Dave Theurer to create Missile Command, as the Cold War meant that the threat of nuclear destruction was an ever-present source of paranoia in Eighties America. Thankfully, Russian aggression is a thing of the past today (Are you sure? – Ed.) and rogue states haven’t been able to create their own nuclear weapons (Nick, please – Ed.), so we don’t have to worry about the prospect of a mushroom cloud on the horizon any time soon.
Thankfully the game itself was significantly more fun than radiation sickness, as you used a trackball to try to intercept missiles targeting six Californian cities. And if you enjoyed playing Missile Command in the arcade, or indeed an a home system, you might fancy discussing it in the Retro Gamer forum, where the game is our current Retro Spotlight. Click here to head straight for that topic.
If you’re a fan of Frogger, you’re in good company. The original arcade game was a smash hit that attracted a broad spectrum of fans, and the amphibious hero had a hugely successful comeback run starting in the late Nineties – and that’s not to mention his cartoon appearances or the classic episode of Seinfeld dedicated to George’s pursuit of a high score. And now he’s the star of this week’s retro gaming spotlight, kindly provided by community team member AllenTheAlien. If you fancy a chat about one of the best non-violent games from the golden age of the arcades, click here to visit our forum.
Of course, the company that brought Frogger into being was Konami, and this month we’re celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary with a special issue. As well as the regular magazine (featuring a gorgeous full art Castlevania cover), readers get The Mini Konami Companion, a guide to 50 of the legendary developer’s greatest games, and a sticker sheet featuring sprites and artwork from across the company’s history. To pick up your copy, visit your local newsagent or order directly from us at My Favourite Magazines.
This review was originally published in Official UK PlayStation Magazine issue 2, January 1996
Platform games have been around since the dawn of man but it’s taken until now for them to enter the third dimension. PSM reckons this game’s a real gas
Be warned: gamers of a nervous disposition, afeared of precipitous heights and prone to attacks of vertigo and nose bleeds should turn the page. For Jumping Flash takes you on a perilous platform adventure, leaping majestically from pillar to post high above the ground (which in turn hovers above the clouds). And you also get to shoot stuff, too.
Robbit – a robot rabbit – is the hero of the moment, charged with a mission to thwart the dreaded Baron Aloha, an intergalactic property developer, no less. The Baron has stolen vast tracts of your planet, in order to create huge floating holiday villas in space. And that’s the honest truth.
But apart from some glossy video sequences, scenario and game actually share little common ground, so let’s dispense with the made-up-ities and progress directly to the hands-on stuff.
The real point of Jumping Flash is simply to collect four large carrot-shaped power-ups. These are secreted around each level on platforms of varying height and accessibility: some are very low and easily seen, some are mind-bogglingly high and buggers to locate. Predictably, Robbit is able to hurl himself skyward with some force. Time your button-presses correctly and the mechanical leporid performs three such gravity-defying jumps, cumulatively hurling himself hundreds of feet in the air. And therein lies the game: by a mixture of precision leaping and seat-of-the-pants-throwing-yourself-into-the-abyss-type manoeuvres, you have to seek out the four carrotty objects and exit the level.
Hindrances include a variety of nefarious, missile-gobbing creatures – flowers, hippos, giraffes, frogs, fat purple things on legs, and so on – that bar your path and fire harmful substances at you. These are dispatched by shooting them or by landing on them from a height – preferably a great one.
Complete three levels and (surprise, surprise) a boss monster appears in its own arena, waiting for you to kill it – or, more typically, vice versa. These end-of-world guardians are often the biggest challenge that the game offers up, as the straightforward platform stages – especially the early ones – are far from impossible (although the time limits have been tightened up from the Japanese original). This is slightly annoying as battling the bosses merely gets in the way of the real fun, which is throwing yourself around tiny platforms, buildings and balloons suspended in the stratosphere.
The play mechanics of Jumping Flash are brilliantly honed, so that you frequently have to take leaps of faith toward platforms you’re not quite sure you’ll reach. Later levels have tiny ledges and floating balloons which you have to negotiate with your clumsy big bunny feet. And the superlative fairground world has Robbit scooting around the place on towering, multicoloured rollercoasters – a singular gaming experience and no small error.
There are some six worlds in all, split into two areas plus the boss bits. So in total there’s just 18 areas – and a couple of them are boring underground levels, where Robbit is like a caged bird, unable to utilise his greatest asset. However, SCE has updated the UK game with a redesigned World 5, and Ridge Racer-style ‘Extra Worlds’ which you access upon completion of the game (as long as your score is high enough!). So there’s actually a lot of game to be had if you stick with it.
To suggest that Jumping Flash is innovative is a criminal understatement: there’s never been anything quite like this in terms of sheer brain-popping wow factor. Peering over a ledge, about a thousand feet in the air, is an awesome feeling: jumping off that ledge is a blast.
The ability to shoot things does feel like something of an afterthought: you can envisage the designers thinking. ‘Well, if we don’t put some shooting in, no one will buy it! But it might have been more in keeping with the theme of game simply to rely on Robbit’s size 27 stompers to stroy the baddies. Blasting them out of existence feels like a cheat, somehow.
Still, Jumping Flash is a very, very clever game. The hazy depth-cued graphics are spot on, and the gameplay – though less than perfect – is captivating enough to keep your average player battling away for a couple of weeks.
And should you defeat the good Baron, you’ll no doubt find the odd moment when you load up Jumping Flash, just to revel in the sheer thrill of jumping around like a rapid Robbit. This, dear readers, is what 32-bit gaming is all about.
Standard aural accompaniment
A flash in the pan, really
Astounding airborne action
Bizarre video clips
Totally new concept
OVERALL: 8 out of 10 Jumping Flash is one of the new breed of games that only PlayStation can do. It’s a whole new gaming experience, so if you I can afford it, jump at the chance!
Issue 192 of Retro Gamer is available to buy now from all good newsagents and My Favourite Magazines, and we’ve teamed up with C64Audio.com to deliver a special package for our readers. Each copy of the magazine comes with a CD full of Rob Hubbard remixes – the best of the game music legend’s Commodore 64 work is represented here, with tunes from the likes of Monty On The Run, Commando, and Dragon’s Lair II remixed and reimagined by the likes of Matt Gray, Uncle And The Bacon and even Rob himself (see the full track listing below). Inside the magazine itself, you’ll also find an interview with Rob talking about Project Hubbard and the upcoming 8-Bit Symphony concert, due to take place on 15th June 2019.
That’s not all though, as you’ll have noticed that our cover story is on Yoshi’s Island, one of the greatest 2D platform games ever made. Nintendo’s Takashi Tezuka and Shigefumi Hino reveal the development process behind the SNES classic, from the initial decision to avoid another Mario game to the game’s beautiful hand-drawn style, and of course the use of the SuperFX 2 enhancement chip.
There’s plenty more to see elsewhere in the issue. Former Ocean Software artist Mark R Jones tells the story of his first month at the company in his own words, with unseen sketches and photographs from the time. Our regular Making Of features examine the cult C64 classic Space Taxi, Lucasarts’ eccentric management sim Afterlife, EA’s dangerous extreme sports title Skitchin’ and the PlayStation ninja classic Tenchu: Stealth Assassins. We also catch up with the Road Runner in an Ultimate Guide, and look back at the evolution of Head Over Heels with Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond.
That’s not all, either. Rebecca Heineman discusses her decades in the games industry in In The Chair, we take a look at the Amiga CD32 in our Minority Report, and Julian Gollop tells all about the history of his strategy studio Mythos Games. The long-awaited ToeJam & Earl: Back In The Groove is reviewed, and of course the magazine features the usual selection of Retro Revivals, news, columns and guides. And if all of this sounds like something you want to be a part of long-term, we’ve got a great offer of a free mini arcade cabinet for new subscribers.
CD Track list
01: Sanquinoxe – Marcel Donné
From Project Sidologie: Robdez-vous
02: Commando – Matt Gray
From Reformation 2
03: Spellbound – Barry Leitch
From Project Hubbard: Hubbard Remixed
04: Casio 12 Inch Mix – Rob Hubbard & Jason Page
From Project Hubbard: Rob Returns
05: One Man And His Droid – Uncle And The Bacon
From Project Hubbard: Rob And The Bacon
06: Dragon’s Lair II (River Caves Search) – Johan Andersson
From Project Hubbard: Hubbard Remixed
07: Kentilla (Excerpt) – Mark ‘TDK’ Knight
From Project Hubbard: Escape From New Rob
08: Chimera – Chris Abbott & Alistair ‘Boz’ Bowness
From Karma 64
09: Monty On The Run Suite (Preview) – Rob Hubbard
From 8-Bit Symphony
10: Commando (High Score) – Fastloaders
From Project Hubbard: Rock Hubbard
Funtenga Radical Previews VHS Vol.1 with Steve Priestley - YouTube
Are you a human being of a certain age, whose geographical location and status as a television viewer allowed you to watch Movies Games And Videos on ITV? If so: congratulations, you are old like us, and you evidently had a lot of free time on Saturday afternoons like us too. We remember it because the show had an odd habit of featuring Neo Geo games, and you didn’t often see those outside of an arcade.
But also, you might remember Steve Priestley, the forever unseen narrator of that particular television programme. Well, thanks to Funtenga Video Software, he’s back doing the thing we all remember – narrating footage of game previews. But these are no ordinary games! Instead, you will see men fighting their trusty vessels and the wonders of Thanks Blaster. It really does defy reasonable explanation, so we’d advise you just click the play button and leave the problem of working it out to future you.
This review was originally published in Arcade issue 18, April 2000
SNK and Capcom deal a winning hand
Mental images can be funny things, but if you’ve always imagined card-playing sessions to involve a collection of knifescarred underworld hoodlums smoking cigars in the backroom of a seedy nightclub, then the bright, neon-lit, up all night world of Card Fighters’ Clash will fulfil your every fantasy.
It has to be one of the most addictive and original games ever to grace any console, with an engrossing mix of RPG and card game that gradually gets its hooks into you and won’t let go.
Basically, your character travels around the Card Fighters world collecting different cards, playing mini-games and battling other players with a pack featuring characters from SNK and Capcom games. If you defeat an opponent, you receive more playing cards to add to your collection.
Initially, the game can be daunting and quite bewildering, with a set of rules to learn and cards that have hit points, soul points and actions. But after a few battles you start to pick up the game and become determined to collect more powerful cards to build up a deck that can take on the hardest of Card Fighters.
The graphics are large, bright and colourful. All of the cards are plastered with comic book representations of videogame stars such as the lovely Jill Valentine from Resident Evil and gangly Dhalsim from Street Fighter 2.
The role playing game bit involves visiting numerous worlds, including Capcom Plaza, Neo Geo Land and Lost World, which features a very silly dinosaur exhibit that roars when you pull a switch. There’s even a spooky Resident Evil mansion in SC Park, full of cute zombies, hidden bonus cards and evil Card Fighter opponents.
The single-player game is superb, but also included is a twoplayer link-up, enabling you to battle against or trade cards with your friends. Card Fighters’ Clash is one of those rare titles that seems to appear from nowhere, but surprises you by delivering a game that’s fresh, fun and incredibly addictive. This is Top Trumps for the new Millennium.
This review was originally published in Computer & Video Games issue 169, December 1995
The Neo Geo has played host to some of the best combat games available. Truth be told it has played host to little else! King of Fighters 95 is another fighting game.
But what a game it is. The most original aspect of KoF has always been the team angle of the game. Rather than taking one fighter into the game you select three, and do battle in each round against three different opponents. This manages to increase the amount of variety in the game by a factor of three, and makes King of Fighters one of the most varied, exciting combat games around. With the exception of Konami’s lacking Dragoon Might, no other fighting game has cottoned on to this excellent idea.
Still, this feature was available in this game’s predecessor, King of Fighters 94. However, this time, there exists a Team Edit mode – this enables you to choose from all 24 fighters and create your own unstoppable killing force. Previous weak links in certain teams can now be removed and replaced, adding significantly to the fun factor. What this also means is that the variety of KoF is now even more pronounced – there are over 2,000 different possible team formations with the 24 fighters.
At its most basic level, King of Fighters is best described as the ultimate culmination in the evolution of Street Fighter II (and this game was designed by some of the original Capcom masters who invented that classic) and represents some of the greatest fighting moments you’ll ever experience in an arcade game.
The home CD version remains identical to the coin-op – as all Neo Geo titles do- but the loading is even more pronounced than the memory-intensive King of Fighters 94. Whereas the preceding game loaded in both teams (six characters), 95 loads in each individual character, which breaks up the game horrendously mid-bout. Oddly enough, you get over it quickly when playing in two-player mode. However, the one player game suffers badly. Speaking of which, the CPU computer logic remains as cheap and as unsatisfying as ever it was – this is definitely a game best enjoyed with two players.
If you’re interested at all in King of Fighters, it’s worth checking out down the arcades. What also might be of interest is the announcement from SNK that they are to have discussions on swapping arcade titles with Sega. Who knows? Maybe we could expect to see a Saturn King of Fighters some time in 1996?
Two popular sprite-based combat games have arrived this month – King of Fighters 95 and X-Men: Children of the Atom (a demo version on Saturn). KoF is definitely an experts’ combat game – the sheer range of attacks, the variety in the characters, the incredible combinations – it’s awesome frankly. I mention X-Men because that game is accessible to novice fighters, which this definitely isn’t. Still, in my books, King of Fighters is aptly named – incredible stuff!
I’ve never been a big fan of the SNK brand of beat em ups, preferring the likes of Street Fighter 2 and Virtua Fighter instead. As it stands though, King Of Fighters ’95 is undoubtedly a superb fighting game. The huge range of characters. awesome moves, team option and fantastic presentation make KoF a joy to play. If you’ve got a Neo Geo CD you obviously wanted this type of game, and this is the best you can get. I myself, am looking forward to X-Men on the Saturn.
Great looking sprites and fantastic backdrops.
All the awesome moves are displayed in a brilliant fashion.
Atmospheric tunes that add a bit of spice to the action.
SOUND EFFECTS: 91
Great fighting sounds, but some peculiar speech.
For sheer depth and combo potential, KoF is right at the top.
24 fighters and an excellent team option. Great value.
Irritating for solo players, but absolutely stunning in every regard when played as it should be with two players at the controls.
This review was originally published in Edge issue 6, March 1994
Neo-Geo owners guess what? A new game has arrived and it’s not at all what you’d expect. It’s a sort of platformy shooting arcade adventuring type thing, where two swishly dressed characters face one another and play catch the projectile.
Oh alright, it’s yet another beat ’em up – the third in the Fatal Fury series to be precise – and in spite of the amount of competition on this platform, this latest addition is still a rather good game.
So what’s so ‘special’ about Fatal Fury Special? For a start, there are more characters to choose from. The first Fatal Fury only had three, the sequel had eight, but here you can choose from 15 bone-crunching bruisers. All of them have their own unique fighting style and all come with an assortment of special moves. There are even hidden ‘power blows’ that when executed take off huge amounts of your opponent’s energy. Graphically, there are some new vibrantly coloured backgrounds – the bridge level is even more impressive – and all of them now go through a day to night transition.
With the exception of a few new tunes, the music and sound effects remain much the same: no bad thing this as they were excellent to begin with. Expert players among you will be delighted to hear that there’s a surprise ending in store, but only if you defeat all the opponents without losing a single round.
So there you go, what more could any self respecting Neo-Geo fan ever want in a beat ’em up? Fatal Fury Special looks good, has more characters, sounds great, plays brilliantly and has loads of hidden features.
But why, you ask yourselves, would I want to buy yet another beat ’em up for my machine? Well, given that a) you have an obscene amount of money and b) you wouldn’t have bought a Neo-Geo in the first place if you weren’t a beat ’em up fan, you’d be pretty daft to miss out on this as it’s the best game in this excellent series, and the second best beat ’em up (after Samurai Shodown) available on your system.
This review was originally published in Play issue 37, July 1998
DOUBLE BLANK OR DOUBLE SIX? JVC LAYS ITS CUTESY DOMINO CHALLENGE ON THE LINE.
sound like a game for people who wear furry, zip-up slippers and huddle under tartan blankets, but actually it’s a rather addictive (if short lived) psychedelic domino laying extravaganza. Before you turn the page belly-up laughing, just check out the screenshots – they’re absolutely gorgeous and if this game had a middle name, it’d be ‘originality’ – a word you can’t associate with the vast majority of releases.
PaRappa The Rapper grabbed attention and to a lesser extent, the same can be said for Mr Domino. Playing it is simple, but mastering it takes patience, dexterity and a smidgen of luck. You play a cute domino chappy, who is carried along a predetermined course and the idea is to lay down dominoes at specific points in order to create chain reactions. Hitting certain switches triggers off amusing cut-scenes (those crazy Japanese), but if you manage to link every switch without stumbling over one of the many obstacles in your path, you’re rewarded with a special ending for the level.
Each course is effectively a track, so that after making one circuit you return the same point. It’s unlikely that every switch will be triggered on your first jaunt, so there a plenty of time-extending First Aid crosses dotted around ensuring that you can do a few laps to complete the stage.
Unfortunately you only get to manoeuvre Mr domino left and right, there’s little else to do apart from adjust his speed, as everything is on rails. It’s great fun for a while, but there are only six stages and we finished them pretty quickly. The humour in each level makes you chortle at first, but the effect soon wears off after you’ve watched it a few times. There are bonus tiles, including Fast Forward, Slow Forward and the annoying Reset tile, but nothing can hide the short-lived challenge that Mr Domino represents. Although it’s original, stunning to look at and good fun to play, we have doubts about how long you’ll be playing it for.