• 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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    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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Christmas ReBlog: The 12 Days of Retro Gaming

12 Days of Retrogaming

I just read a wonderful Christmas-related retrogaming post from 2011 that I hadn’t seen before, all thanks to the magic of google! It’s called 12 Days of Retro Gaming, and it’s worth a read!

In 1994 my father decided that it was high time to replace that old Commodore 64 (which wasn’t even considered a PC anymore) with a brand new Pentium 90 mhz PC.  I remember coming downstairs on Christmas morning and there it was, a beautiful boxy white machine with a VGA monitor, printer, and took up all the space our wide oak desk could spare.  CD-ROM was brand new and this bad boy came equipped with it and a few initial CDs, including Myst and an Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia.  At that time, however, not every game came in the CD version and many PC gamers were selling off their floppy disc versions of games to upgrade.  It was at this time that I became enamoured with PC gaming and began stopping by the used PC game shop near my part-time job and blowing my money on classics.

Read more by clicking the link HERE

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Advertising From Yesteryear…Game Genie

Long before there was an Internet to search for clues and codes to hack your way through a stubbornly difficult game, Codemasters brought a product into the game market which permitted access to your video game’s code, thereby letting you add unearned lives, power-ups, and so forth. The Game Genie was an accessory that you could insert into your game console, and then the game would attach to the Game Genie, allowing the Game Genie to act as an intermediary between the console and the game.

Many gamers found this helpful, and different Game Genies were produced for a variety of game consoles, including the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the Nintendo GameBoy, the Super Nintendo, the Sega Genesis, and the Sega Game Gear. Two different companies distributed the Game Genie over the years it was being manufactured: Galoob and Camerica, one of which (Galoob) was actually sued by Nintendo in an effort to prevent the Game Genie from being sold. Fortunately for many gamers, Nintendo lost their legal battle and had to pay Galoob for damages.

Time marches steadily on, however, and the Game Genie is now in the dustbin of gaming history, while Nintendo continues to be a gaming powerhouse.  All we have left of the Game Genie are the few units that can be found here and there in the retrogaming marketplace, and our memories. Speaking of which, see if the following ad brings back memories of how you salivated over the thought of finally mastering that one irksome game, if only you got a Game Genie. Click on the image below to see an enlarged version, and enjoy the trip into yesteryear!

Full page advertisement for Game Genie

Advertising From Yesteryear…Milton Bradley’s Gamemaster Series

Just about everyone who loves board games or war games knows about Axis & Allies, Milton Bradley’s strategy board game that came in a large box and was filled with tiny plastic playing pieces.  The game was part of a special line-up of similar products that the giant board game company released throughout the 1980s, some of which are certainly much more obscure than others!  The Gamemaster series included the aforementioned Axis & Allies (the WWII game released in 1981), Broadsides & Boarding Parties (the Age of Sail strategy game released in 1982), Conquest of Empire (a Roman Empire wargame released in 1984),  Fortress America (an alternate universe wargame released in 1986, where America fights off an invasion from the rest of the world), and Shogun (a 1986 game set in feudal Japan, later renamed Samurai Swords).

To remind you of those fine games, here is a full-color, full-page ad from Milton Bradley found in the September, 1986 issue of the classic Dragon Magazine.  Incidentally, it is the first time I’ve ever seen Conquest of the Empire advertised in any format. Click on the image below to see an enlarged version, and enjoy the trip into yesteryear!

1986 Ad for Milton Bradley’s Gamemaster series.

Catalog Cavalcade: Avalon Hill Gaming Company

Anyone who has ever played a war game owes a tremendous debt to the Avalon Hill Gaming Company. It was a company that was founded in 1954 with the premise that strategic multi-counter war games would be a profitable product to sell, and proved it by having a commercial success with its very first product, Tactics.  Many, many other war games followed, such as Blitzkrieg!, Panzer Blitz, and Starship Troopers, as well as games in other genres, such as Acquire, Football Strategy, and Outdoor Strategy. Some were instant classics, some…well, not so much.

Of course, Avalon Hill also translated a large volume of their wargame classics to the computer realm, making for some fabulous solo or human-to-human game play without having to leave the comfort of your computer desk.  In honor of those games – and the company that has long since been absorbed by the Borg of the gaming world (Hasbro) – reproduced below is one of Avalon Hill’s original PC game catalogs from 1996.  Simply click on the first page to open the catalog up. One warning: it’s a big file! Enjoy!

Avalon Hill Game Company Catalog

Yesterday’s Freebies: The Sam ‘n’ Max Hit The Road Board Game

Squirreled away amidst the pages of LucasArts’ The Adventurer (No. 7, Winter 1994, to be precise) was a curious two-page spread entitled, Sam & Max Hit the Road: The Thrill-Packed and Completely Unrelated Official Boardgame. Just a little zany extra for fans of classic LucasArts comedic adventures, and a great ad for the Sam & Max PC game. (The Adventurer also contained an “interview” with Sam and Max, but if written slapstick humor is a lost art, this piece did nothing to locate it.) At any rate, below is the Sam & Max Hit the Road: The Thrill-Packed and Completely Unrelated Official Boardgame, ready for you to play – just click on the image to enlarge it to a usable size! (NOTE: The enlarged image is hi-res, so don’t click on it if you don’t have a fast Internet connection!)

Sam & Max Hit the Road: The Thrill-Packed and Completely Unrelated Official Boardgame

The Top Ten TurboGrafx-16 HuCard Games Part II

The first part of this series was written back in June of 2010, a hard-hitting, pull-no-punches look at the best HuCards that the TurboGrafx-16 console had to offer.  Well, perhaps that’s describing it with a bit too much hyperbole, but in my defense, I have been reading a lot of old magazines lately, and some of the ad copy is beginning to assimilate my mind. Regardless, I thought that the original list was a pretty good one, and was meaning to write the next Top Ten, but…well, it is as it is.  And here it is, a mere two years later. (What’s two years to we retrogamers?) Once again, here are what I consider the next Top 10 HuCard (in no particular order) games for this forgotten system.  Remember (!): no CD games, and only North American releases.

Air Zonk
Once you get past the fact that Hudson Soft used a futuristic Bonk as the pivotal character in this game, you’ll find it a challenging shooter. Humorous sci-fi updates to Bonk’s various power-ups and their effects, such as the glass-encapsulated meat and the ability to call in one of Zonk’s friends to help shoot down the Bosses, keep Zonk’s airborne adventures from becoming just another Bonk’s Adventure game.

Bloody Wolf
Have you ever noticed that the President of the United States gets kidnapped a lot in the video game world? He’s been kidnapped again in Bloody Wolf, along with a truckload of other hostages, all of which you have to rescue. A sound track that drives the action, plenty of enemies to dispatch with a good assortment of weapons, and a variety of level designs make this game a must-have T16 arcade experience!

Dungeons & Dragons: Order of the Griffon
It’s a D&D RPG on the T16! Based on the Dungeons & Dragons rules – not the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules – this game was designed by Westwood Associates, before they became the gaming giant Westwood Studios. It is very similar to the Gold Box series by SSI: pick a party of four pre-generated characters, and off you go adventuring. Strategic thinking is required to survive the many encounters, as well as while constructing your party. Saving your game frequently is wise!

Final Lap Twin
What’s more fun than racing behind the wheel of a Formula One race car? How about racing your buddy with the screen split in two, one half for each player? And if you don’t have any friends that want to race you, then you could also play in RPG mode, searching for challenges to face in your quest to become a World Champion racer!

Galaga ’90
Colorful animations, jaunty tunes and endless waves of alien ships are just a few of the things I liked about Galaga ’90. The ability to gain a triple ship almost immediately by temporarily sacrificing one of my precious single ships and relying on the alien capture teams and my sharpshooting skills is another. Now that is Galactic Dancing.

Klax
There’s something to be said for Tetris clones that don’t play anything like Tetris. This is a marvelous puzzle game that requires quick-thinking and even quicker reflexes as you attempt to sort the oncoming conveyor belt blocks by color into rows, stacks, and diagonals. The applause from the crowd and the onomatopoeia  from the obviously impressed female announcer make it all worthwhile.

Parasol Stars
There are two things you need to know right away about this game. First, a parasol is a sun umbrella, from the Latin verb “parere” (“to ward off”) and the noun “sol” (“sun” ). They’re often colorful and decorative, and not for heavy rain. Second, this game is part three of the Bubble Bobble trilogy, so you can expect the same kind of colorfully bright graphics and weird gameplay. So when I tell you that you use your parasol to capture and toss objects around to score points and capture power-ups, you won’t immediately re-read the sentence for clarity. Did I mention it’s bright and colorful? Because it is…relentlessly so!

R-Type
There are some people who believe R-Type is the best arcade shooter ever devised, and though I am not one of those people, I can see their case.  The graphics are reminiscent of H.R. Giger’s work, and some of the power-ups are unique, such as the Power Pod, which can be detached to attack enemies or attached to your ship to fend off attackers. The game can be very challenging, even with the robot help, so be prepared to be faced with an equal mixture of joy and frustration when playing R-Type!

Raiden
Another in a long series of arcade shooters that put you at the controls of an advanced fighter facing off against hordes of alien invaders, Raiden distinguished itself from its competition with superb graphics (including a wide variety of background screens), well-thought-out power-ups, and vertical scrolling gameplay that progressively became more difficult until it reached diabolical levels. The game was translated into seven different gaming platforms, but the TurboGrafx version is the best!

Super Star Soldier
Do you want to play a vertical shooter that is relentlessly challenging? One that boasts outstanding graphics and a wide array of weapons, all programmed onto a standard huCard? Well do I have a game for you!  Besides having some of the best weapon choices ever to grace the TurboGrafx-16, this game also does not clip when the enemies fill the screen and the action is at its most intense, making Super Star Soldier one of the best arcade shooters to ever show the T16’s capabilities!

Honorable mention: Legendary Axe II
Now this game should probably be on the first Top Ten list as part of the Legendary Axe series, but since I didn’t remember to put it there, I’m exercising executive authority to put it on this list. Legendary Axe was a fantastic game, but its sequel (imaginatively entitled Legendary Axe II) was even better. More creatures to fight, better levels to navigate, better atmosphere overall…this was and is an amazing game that showcased what the TurboGrafx-16 could offer gamers. It could stand up against many of today’s graphic extravaganzas and easily win on gameplay alone!

Have a different Top Ten TurboGrafx-16 list?  Leave a comment with your favorites – and don’t forget to say why!

Advertising From Yesteryear…Arcanum Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

Arcanum Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, published by Sierra Studios (Sierra On-Line), was an interesting and unique game set in a fantasy world that was entering an industrial revolution. All the standard trappings of fantasy RPGs were included, but with a steampunk edge.  It was designed by Troika Games, a developer composed of some of the same people who were behind one of the big software hits of the 1990s – Fallout, the RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world that spawned multiple sequels. The game was at least the equal of Fallout in scope and eye-candy graphics, yet Arcanum Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura never realized the same level of success. Perhaps it was because of its incredibly lengthy title, perhaps it was because the Steampunk movement had not yet reached critical cultural mass. Whatever the reason, the game is well-worth picking up and playing!

In the meantime, here is one of the original full-page color advertisements used to sell Arcanum Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, click on the image below to see an enlarged version, and enjoy the trip into yesteryear!

Full page ad for Arcanum