Dateline : 11th February 2012


This is most definitely bringing back the memories as we go along. Whether it is curing the writer’s block is another thing entirely but it has been good for the soul. More glaring omissions along the way as we visit the more obscure retro references……


Warm sunny days and warm sunny memories



KONAMI : Probably the most recognisable games developer in the world, established in 1969. Responsible for such classics as Castlevania, Contra, Silent Hill, Metal Gear and Pro Evolution Soccer there is no doubt that Konami keep producing the goods. There have been one or two bumps along the way, the first Metal Gear game is far removed from the later games in the series whilst Metal Gear Solid 2 on the PS2 is a massive chore to play and the later entries into the Pro Evo series have seen them fall behind the FIFA series, but if it is Konami. Chances are it’s kracking.


KICK OFF : Revolutionised the way football games were played. By removing the ball from the foot of the player all of a sudden more fluid movements were possible. Those who couldn’t get used to the control hated the game and thus missed out. Those who got it, like yours truly, thought it was the best bloody football game ever, though some annoying bugs and glitches did mar the game. These were ironed out in Kick Off 2, therefore crowning itself at the top of the league. Sensible Soccer can try but in my eyes it cannot compete……..and that is an argument for the ages.




LEMMINGS : Who’d have thought short, green haired creatures with a tendency for exploding/committing suicide would have single handedly sold a lot of Amiga computers back in the 1990’s. The simple task of transporting 100 lemmings through a level is made more difficult by giving them tasks so they can reach the exit – such as digging holes to reach lower platforms, blocking other lemmings and pushing them in the right direction or floating down big drops. Once the percentage of lemmings needed to complete the level is reached, those expendable to the cause can be exterminated by pressing the NUKE button. No Lemmings were physically harmed during the making of this iconic game, but they made Psygnosis a lot of money back in the day.


LINE OF FIRE : Designed to be an Operation Wolf style run and gun, with the gun being statically mounted on the arcade cabinet, Line Of Fire was nothing more than an average arcade shooter. The home conversions were notable only for being average and lacking any excitement, with some versions having a lack of enemies. Also the Master System version, for being more of an Ikari Warriors clone than resembling the arcade original. Whichever way you look at it, imitation is the highest form of flattery and Operation Wolf had nothing to worry about.




MORTAL KOMBAT : When 2D fighting games threatened to take over the world both the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat series stood alone at the top of the tree. Street Fighter had big, bold graphics and colourful backdrops and a none-too complicated control system. Mortal Kombat got straight to the point and incorporated as much gore and guts as you could get away with back in 1992, whilst using digitised graphics and some ludicrous finishing moves. The SNES home conversion was notable for a lack of blood, which took away the game’s impact and made it just another fighting game. Mortal Kombat is still with us, with a much maligned MK vs DC Comics game and a current generation remake which is better than it perhaps has any right to be.




NARC : Ultra violent and therefore controversial gun and run from the late 1980’s. The arcade original had you mowing down drug dealers whilst still finding time to shoot dogs. The drug dealers would end up being busted, accompanied by a large logo telling you so, whilst each dead guy left behind cash or leftover drugs. The sheer blood and gore on display was utterly unheard of in 1988 and thus the game garnered some unwarranted attention from the usual suspects – the gaming authorities, politicians and parents. It’s a very playable game and whilst similarities between this and Smash TV can be seen, it’s perhaps not as good. There were some great home conversions handled by Ocean Software but the NES release featured lots of guns and gore but the total absence of any drug reference. So it’s OK to shoot people, but drugs are not ? Go figure……




OUT RUN : The best time attack racer there was. Jump in the Ferrari and impress the blonde babe sitting next to you by passing through the stage targets in good time to carry on racing. Best played on a sit down version in the arcade with the wind in your hair and the pulsating beat of Magical Sound Shower blasting into your ears. Out Run is one the defining games of a generation of gamers. Yet when converted to the home micros a lot of versions were rubbish – Amiga, Atari ST, C64 and Amstrad to pick on the worst offenders. Relentless sequels and reboots followed until the release of Out Run : Coast to Coast on the PS2 and XBOX. Only then could modern gamers see what we retro geeks get all worked up about when we talk about Out Run.


OUTLAW : A basic Atari 2600 shooter which saw you and another cowboy duelling it out in a Pong-esque scenario. Standing across the screen from each other with only a cactus as protection (which should be shot away in one of the game’s many modes), the idea was to knock your opponent down more times than you. The game I most enjoyed on the cartridge was the bouncing target shoot where the idea is to hit it as quickly as possible 10 times. I spent hours on that.


Coming next : P to T