• magisterrex Retro Games


    I've been gaming since the days of Pong and still own a working Atari 2600. I tend to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games. Sometimes I digress. Decades after earning it, I'm finally putting the skills I learned while completing my history degree from the University of Victoria to good use. Or so I think. If you're into classic old school gaming, this blog is for you!

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    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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    Got a game or product you want reviewed? Send me an email! Will review board games, PC games, video games and accessories (Xbox 360 or Wii, but also new releases for classic systems - you know who you are!)
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Google Maps for NES

google Maps for NES

I don’t care that this is an April Fool’s Day prank by google; I want this cartridge! If you have not seen the video yet, take the time to watch it and you, too, will crave this piece of modern retro technology.  Once you’ve seen the video, visit the special Google Maps – 8 bit site and plan your next car ride in pixelated style!

Treasures Found While Cruising the Al Gore: NintendoLegend.com

Something that I don’t do enough of is shoutouts to other retrogaming sites on the fabulous Al Gore Superhighway. There are so many people providing some high quality content, whether that content is video or text, longplays, reviews, interviews, historical anecdotes, or a host of topics that is as varied as retrogaming itself.   However, it’s been some time since my last site shoutout, so that ends tonight!

It was either this logo or Eric in his stylish hat.Tonight I’d like to spotlight a site run by one of the most prolific tweeters I’ve seen on Twitter, @Nintendo_Legend (aka Eric Bailey). His website is NintendoLegend.com, and is devoted to the Nintendo Entertainment System’s library of games.  Eric’s stated mission is to review them ALL, and as of this writing, his goal is 29% complete, with 221 reviews already written. (Amazingly, not only is Eric completed committed to reviewing every single NES cartridge ever made, he’s also found the time to quarterback a new multi-contributor gaming site called 1MoreCastle.com.  I suspect he’s the Energizer Bunny of retrogamers. But I digress…)

There’s some great stuff here, both in what is written as well as the multitude of screenshots.  This site is well worth a look, which will probably turn into a very long read through hundreds of NES reviews!   Check it out!

Forgotten Classics: Grim Fandango (1998)

“Forgotten Classics” is a celebration of obscure PC games that weren’t released to widespread fanfare – or simply fell of the radar of gamers at the time of their release – and deserve a second look. In this instalment: Grim Fandango, a 1998 adventure game by LucasArts Entertainment.

Grim Fandango box art.

Grim Fandango was a weird game. The setting is a combination of Aztec mythology and The Maltese Falcon, and all the characters are already dead – and look it. You played Manny Calavera, a travel agent for recently deceased souls in the Land of the Dead, who is tasked with escorting a virtuous soul past the Land of the Dead’s many dangers to bring her to ultimate reward in the Ninth Underworld. But danger lurks as all is not as it seems, as his charge, the pure-hearted Mercedes “Meche” Colomar, should be taking the Number Nine luxury express train for a fast and safe trip through the Land of the Dead, yet has been slated for a four-year journey by foot. It’s a mystery, and the path to its solution will prove to be dangerous and difficult indeed.

Grim Fandango "cast"

The designer and writer of Grim Fandango was Tim Schafer, he of Day of the Tentacle fame. It did not use the SCUMM engine that previous LucasArts adventure games were coded on, but a modified version of the Sith engine that was used for Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, which was called the GrimE engine. GrimE allowed for true 3D, as characters were created from 3D-rendered polygons and permitted them to fully move about the environment, unlike the SCUMM engine, which permitted only verb-object associations. Use of the GrimE engine made for a beautiful game, and it was certainly unlike any adventure game that LucasArts had made before.

Love is dead in Grim Fandango

This was a wonderful game, and critics agreed. Grim Fandango won “Adventure Game of the Year” from PC Gamer, “Game of the Year” from Gamespot, and “Best Adventure Game of the Year” from IGN. It has since been on several best games of all time lists, also. But for all the critical acclaim, sales of Grim Fandango were slim, estimated to be as low as 100,000 units. Sales were so poor that LucasArts cancelled several adventure game projects, such as a sequel to Full Throttle, and moved out of the adventure game business altogether shortly thereafter.

Even the dead wait on elevators

An odd aspect of playing Grim Fandango was that Manny’s actions are controlled by a keyboard, joystick or game pad. There was no mouse support. For years adventure gamers had been playing their games with a mouse (which had replaced text-input games like Zork beforehand). Grim Fandango seemed a step backwards, not forwards. Was the game really the harbinger of the end of the adventure game genre or was it just a pain in the butt to play? Play it yourself and find out!

What’s In That Game Box? – The Last Spike

Box art for The Last Spike

Ever searched the Internet looking for what exactly you were missing from the old board game you pulled from your closet, only to find no succor in your time of need?  Well, stop that fruitless searching through endless google results, as this week we look at the classic Gamma Two Games 1976 game The Last Spike, the game that simulates the spread of the Canadian Pacific Railway across Canada.

The game’s contents are:

The game box (with a picture of a black model steam engine appearing to come out of the box)

The game board (with a 20 space main path, as well as an inner railroad path to connect the 9 cities.)

Six player round plastic “donut” tokens (blue, black, green, red, white, and yellow)

Two small six-sided dice.

48 small black railway track tokens.

A supply of play money in $1000  (James Cook, green), $5000 (Louis Riel, orange), $20,000 (George Brown, yellow), and $50,000 (Gabriel Dumont, blue) denominations.

A deck of 45 Deeds cards, containing 5 identical cards for each city with the following markings:

  • Calgary [x5]
    1. $5,000
    2. $12,000
    3. $22,000
    4. $35,000
    5. $50,000
  • Edmonton[x5]
    1. $6,000
    2. $15,000
    3. $27,000
    4. $42,000
    5. $60,000
  • Montreal [x5]
    1. $10,000
    2. $25,000
    3. $45,000
    4. $70,000
    5. $100,000
  • Regina [x5]
    1. $7,000
    2. $17,000
    3. $32,000
    4. $50,000
    5. $70,000
  • Saskatoon [x5]
    1. $8,000
    2. $20,000
    3. $36,000
    4. $56,000
    5. $80,000
  • Sudbury [x5]
    1. $5,000
    2. $12,000
    3. $22,000
    4. $35,000
    5. $50,ooo
  • Toronto [x5]
    1. $6,000
    2. $15,000
    3. $27,000
    4. $42,000
    5. 60,000
  • Vancouver [x5]
    1. $9,000
    2. $22,000
    3. $40,000
    4. $63,000
    5. $90,000
  • Winnipeg [x5]
    1. $4,000
    2. $10,000
    3. $18,000
    4. $28,000
    5. $40,000

The rules pamphlet

Aside from the inner cardboard spacer, that’s it!  This is a rare game from a company that found a small niche market during the board game boom of the 1970s, and certain worth playing a game or two.  Enjoy!

Game board for The Last Spike

Game tokens for The Last Spike

Sample Deeds for The Last Spike

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