Super Mario Bros. at 30

Oh we have a good one for you today, folks. Honestly, I think we have the best one of all time.

Legendary.

Legendary. Photo comes from Wikipedia

Thirty years ago to the day, Nintendo released its seminal action side-scroller Super Mario Bros. in Japan for its Famicom video game system. A critical and commercial success (the game would go on to sell over 40 million copies), Super Mario Bros. made the character of Mario a household name and helped cement Nintendo as one of the enduring titans of the gaming industry.

Developed by Nintendo’s R&D 4 studio, young designer Shigeru Miyamoto directed, produced, and (along with Takashi Tezuka) co-designed SMB. Koji Kondo composed the game’s catchy soundtrack, which has been covered by rock guitarists and marching bands.

The game’s premise presents a simple case of search and rescue. As titular hero Mario (or his younger brother Luigi in the two-player mode), you fight to save Princess Toadstool from the clutches of the dragon-like creature Bowser (also called King Koopa). The game takes players on a fantastical adventure through several different levels (known in-game as “Worlds”) which range from the sunny, greenery filled stages to the bowels of dungeons. Along the way, you pick up a number of power-ups to help Mario and Luigi in their quest, such as the Magic Mushroom (which doubles their size and durability) and the Fire Flower (which enables them to shoot fireballs). Trippy? Absolutely. Fun? Definitely.

Super Mario Bros. is the game that made a lifelong gamer out of me. It was the first video game I ever owned (thanks, family!) and the first one I beat. Without question, my interest in video gaming persisted largely because of this side-scrolling classic.

Thanks for the memories, Nintendo! You’ve given us thirty good years of Mario, and here’s hoping for thirty more. Until next time.

Peace & Pixels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Satoru Iwata Has Passed Away

1959-2015

1959-2015   Photo comes from nintendoenthusiast.com 

It’s been a long time since I last posted, and unfortunately I’m doing so now with a heavy heart. Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s President and popular icon of gaming, passed away Saturday due to a bile duct growth. He was 55.

Iwata joined Nintendo’s HAL Laboratories as a programmer back in the early 1980s, and was involved in the creation of a number of games including The Legend of ZeldaKirby’s AdventureEarthbound and Super Smash Bros. In 2002, he was named President of Nintendo after succeeding Hiroshi Yamaucchi. Iwata eventually oversaw some of Nintendo’s (and the gaming industry’s in general) most successful products, among them the Nintendo Wii and the DS family of handheld consoles.

My condolences go out to Iwata’s family, friends and colleagues. He will sorely be missed.

RIP

Tuesday Treasures: The King of Fighters ’94 Turns 20

We’ve got a good one for you today, folks. As some of you may know, yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of SNK’s classic arcade fighting game, The King of Fighters ’94!

2080504-kof94_logo

Happy Birthday! Pic comes from giantbomb.com.

Released in Japanese arcades for SNK’s Neo-Geo MVS hardware on August 25, 1994, The King of Fighters ’94 is the first game in SNK’s long running King of Fighters series. Unique for its time, KOF ’94 features eight teams consisting of three fighters from around the globe. Matches consist of battles between two teams of three fighters, instead of the more common two rounds between two fighters matchup. Matches are over when one team has all of its fighters knocked out first.

The game’s plot centers on Rugal Bernstein, a notorious criminal who holds the “King of Fighters” tournament in order to seek out the world’s best warriors. Of course, he does this to have a good ‘ol evil time, but is opposed by heroes such as Kyo Kusanagi and the Japan team, as well as brothers Terry and Andy Bogard (of Fatal Fury fame) from the Italy team.

KOF ’94 features characters from a number of SNK’s franchises such as Psycho SoldierArt of Fighting, and Metal Slug. This was an innovative practice at the time, and Sega and Nintendo both would later follow suit with Fighters Megamix and Super Smash Bros. respectively. However, some characters, specifically series hero Kusanagi and villain Bernstein, were created especially the game. If you’re interested, you can see some of these characters in the intro to KOF ’94 (respect to Ferdaus Ahmad Zaki for the upload), which is embedded below.

KOF ’94 was a hit upon its release, leading to the start of an enduring franchise of video games that had a new title released each year for several years. The series has been successful in merchandise (including comic books and action figures), and has even been adapted into to an animated series and live action movie.

I remember the first time I saw KOF ’94. It was in an Aladdin’s Castle arcade room at Harlem & Irving Plaza here in Illinois. Upon first glance, I wasn’t exactly sure what the game was. Although it was a 2D fighting game, it didn’t look like Street Fighter (KOF’s sprites were much bigger) and it didn’t look like any of the Mortal Kombat games either. However, from the moment I saw Kyo’s hand burn his invitation to the KOF tournament in the game’s intro, I became intrigued. It may not have been clear exactly what I was witnessing, but it was something serious. After some hesitation, I finally decided to give the game a try.

I hated it.

Perhaps it was my familiarity with Street Fighter that prevented me from initially enjoying KOF ’94 , but most likely it was due to my lack of fighting game skill. Still, Street Fighter provided the foundation for what I knew about fighting games, mostly because I had not played SNK’s previous fighting games often (I may have played an Art of Fighting game once at the most).

Some of the things I learned from Street Fighter– namely the quarter-circle forward punch command for that game’s “Hadoken” special move– actually worked in KOF ’94, but only with certain characters. Since I was unfamiliar with the game’s mechanics, I spent much of the match just jumping up and down while kicking. If you hadn’t guessed, the game’s A.I. whooped me.

Despite the rough beginning, there were things about the game that I did appreciate, first of which were its graphics. Like many SNK games, KOF ’94 had colorful, large, detailed 2D character sprites, really some of the best of its time. Furthermore, the game had great sound effects, especially evident in the hits characters delivered. Every blow sounded like it came out of a martial-arts film, providing a great sensation of damage.

It wasn’t until my adult years that I learned to really appreciate KOF for what is, though ironically enough, that appreciation came through a Capcom fighting game, 2001’s Capcom vs. SNK 2.

Cvs2

Pic comes from snk.wikia.com

This game was a collaborative effort between Capcom and SNK, and included characters from both companies’ games. CVS2 features a tutorial I used to take time and actually learn many of SNK’s characters, an effort that served me well in playing the later games in the KOF series.

That about does it for this segment. For a nice tribute to the KOF series, do check out Game Art HQ’s site for a number of great illustrations by fans of the series. Until next time.

Peace & Pixels

See Ya, HoH

As the old saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.” Here on the Chomp of course, we realize this well after said thing has ended.

Normally around this time, I was watching “House of Horrors,” a weekly internet program broadcast by GameSpot on Twitch.tv. The show, made by GameSpot’s Australian branch, featured hosts Jessica McDonell and Zorine Te as they played through various horror games, ranging from classics such as Resident Evil 2 to more obscure titles such as The Cat Lady. For the past year and a half (even while football was on) HoH held my attention.

Unfortunately, HoH was canceled last week, and all of GameSpot’s live shows save for “The Lobby,” “Now Playing,” and the new “On The Front Line” are gone too. This is the result of a major restructuring that GameSpot’s parent company CBS is doing which has also caused it to cut several jobs. Hopefully all those who are out of work will find something soon if they haven’t yet.

Sometimes goofy and always entertaining, House of Horrors was one of the best internet shows I’ve seen. Not only did viewers get to see a wide variety of video games, they were also treated to the humor of highly likable hosts McDonell and Te. McDonell was prone to excited outbursts and copious swearing while Te was more reserved and straight-faced. It was an excellent pairing of personalities that made for a number of hilarious moments.

One of my favorite moments from the show was when the duo recorded Te playing the remake of the original Resident Evil, which is set in a mansion. Te was being chased by a zombie on one of the mansion’s upper floors, when a viewer told her she could drop down from the balcony to the floor below. It seemed to be sage advice, since players are able to this in Resident Evil 4 (although not some of the earlier titles).

Te followed the viewer’s advice, but when she went to the edge of the balcony, she found she couldn’t leap down. Of course, the zombie gained on her, causing McDonell much distress. She told the viewers not to take advantage of Te’s kindness, whereas Te herself said, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

Occasionally McDonell and Te were joined on the show by some of their GameSpot colleagues. Ed Tran and Dan Hines from GameSpot Australia were on a few shows, and they always provided their own type of humor. Ed was somewhat similar to McDonell, providing sudden (and sometimes profane) outbursts when things got hairy while Dan was usually as deadpan as a Norm McDonald joke. Seb Ford, funnyman from GameSpot’s UK office, stopped in once to play with his mate McDonell.

If you ever want to see what the show was like, GameSpot still has some episodes of the show archived on its Twitch channel. Also, do check out Te’s personal blog, Forevergamie, which is here on WordPress.

That does it for this segment. Until next time.

Peace & Pixels

Edit: Apparently GameSpot has a new live show called “On the Front Line,” which I didn’t know about when this article was first published. That show’s been added in now.

One Year and Counting…

Today marks the one year anniversary of ChompRetro. When I started this blog, I just wanted to investigate whether or not one could get good deals on eBay. Being the amateur collector that I was (and still am in many ways), the answer of course is yes. What followed was an education on how to be patient, how to be tactful, and perhaps most important, how to respectfully do business with others.

All of those things aside, I learned a lot about gaming and the gaming industry as a whole. Although I haven’t done many “Tuesday Treasures” posts, of the few that I have written I learned much about where the video gaming industry has been and how some choice video game titles have helped developed the industry into the multi-billion dollar enterprise it  is today.

To all those who have taken time to read this blog and have come back occasionally to see what’s happening, thank you. Your readership is, as always, much appreciated. I’m not sure what’s in store for this blog in the immediate future, but I’m looking forward to finding out with anyone who will join me (unless you’re doing a bad job of trolling of course). Until next time.

Peace & Pixels