Dateline 9th February 2012


The best way to deal with writer’s block – which, as some of you may have noticed, is why there hasn’t been an update for a week – is to get some sort of list going that will stimulate the writing juices. It’s either that or finally give in and play some well known games for a change as opposed to the obscure ones. Argh No! So join me now as we go through the Retro Alphabet with as many glaring omissions as there are inclusions, I am sure :


Says it all really....



ARKANOID : Breakout update from the 1980’s. Not simply bat and ball, as collecting power ups will allow you to have an extra ball on screen or develop lasers. Set in space this is a worthy update to an arcade classic, and also spawned a sequel




ANGRY VIDEO GAME NERD : The player of some of the worst games known to man is a worthy entry in the Retro Alphabet. If you can get beyond some of the more tasteless gags, swearing and use of bodily functions, James Rolfe has done a lot for bringing video games reviewing, albeit angrily, into the new millennium. He’s even making a film about the Nerd.


ATARI : Once great, video games giant that introduced the world to the wooden wonder of the 2600. Did Atari single handedly bring about the Games Crash of 1983, or were they merely one of the casualties ? How time treats them is another matter but they were never quite the same again, as neither the colour handheld Lynx or the hard to program for Jaguar made any impression on gamers in the 1990’s. More likely now remembered for arcade classics like Star Wars and STUN Runner.




BANJO : The musical bear from the Banjo games from Rare for the N64 in the late 1990’s. Always accompanied by a bird in a rucksack and attempting to defeat the evil witch, Gruntilda Winkybunion (Grunty to her friends), the Banjo games were raved over back in the day. They still provide an excellent challenge and with Rare’s usual high quality graphics, sounds and gameplay these games have turned into classics. However Banjo’s comeback on the Xbox 360 last year was not quite as well received.


BABIES : You might be surprised to see this entry but there are at least 4 Babies that spring to mind : Baby Mario and Baby Luigi (perhaps Nintendo were running out of ideas of how to milk more money from gamers – and this was before WaLuigi), the giant baby in Zombies Ate My Neighbours (if there is one thing that is scary it’s a giant baby) and Jack The Nipper (who terrorised 8 bit owners back in the 1980’s).


BACK TO THE FUTURE : You’d have thought a great film franchise would spawn great games, but that’s where you would be wrong. The first film saw an atrocious NES version that had nothing to do with the film and whilst the C64/Spectrum/Amstrad game went for a different approach, getting George McFly to spend as much time as possible with Lorraine, they couldn’t pull it off. The second film saw yet another hopeless attempt on the 8 bit and 16 bit computers, splitting the game into sub games that, although relevant to the film, suffered from poor controls. For NES owners both the second and third films were lumped into the same game which again bore little resemblance to the original films. The final part of the trilogy was another sub game bonanza for home micros and the Mega Drive – some good, the shooting range, and some bad, the opening level which is about as hard and unfair as first levels get. Definitely a missed opportunity all round.




CAPCOM – Legendary Japanese game developer and publisher responsible for the following retro gaming greats : Devil May Cry, Ghosts N Goblins, Ghouls N Ghosts, Street Fighter, Mega Man, Bionic Commando, Final Fight and Resident Evil amongst others. You don’t need to say any more about them than that.


CENTIPEDE : 1980 arcade game that did for small insects what Space Invaders did for green men from outer space. Gun down the centipede as it moves it’s way through the garden. It moves incredibly quickly and you’ll have to be quick to keep up. Shooting it in the wrong place means it will split into two, making this one fast and furious shooter. One of the best vertical shooters of it’s kind and an undisputed classic to this day.





DOOM : It’s probably fair to say that the rise of games like Doom and Castle Wolfenstein led us to the current blitz of first person shooters that dominate the market to this day. Looking back now, these original games look incredibly dated, what with their blocky graphics, duff sound and a lack of impact they had back in the day. That doesn’t mean that Doom is any less playable – because it still is. This is probably the best of the 3 games that was released in the series and quite a challenge, but just don’t expect to be blown away like we were in the 1990’s.




EDDIE EDWARDS SUPER SKI : A British sporting hero of the 1980’s, if only for his lack of ability. Clearly a case of licensing gone to someone’s head. It’s debatable whether the developers had a skiing game ready to go and just need someone to front it. As skiing games go, it’s not bad but then there isn’t really that much to compare it with. Certainly one of the more curious games one has come across.


ELITE SYSTEMS : Games developer of the 1980’s where they had most of their success. They were responsible for converting a lot of arcade greats back in the day, some of which were better than others ; Buggy Boy, Bomb Jack, Commando, Ghosts N Goblins, Ikari Warriors, Paperboy and Space Harrier. They have also dabbled in the ever growing mobile games market in recent years. It is always good to see a name from the past taking on the technology of today.


END : After battling through many levels, suffering many heartaches and needless deaths along the way, my mate Jim finally completed Shinobi on the Master System which to this day he states is the hardest game he has ever played. After finally finishing the game he was greeted with the following message on screen – GAME OVER. Then the game reset itself. Needless to say he wasn’t a happy chappy, thus this must be a candidate for the world’s worst game ending ????


Coming next – F to I…….