It was on a cold and dark Sunday night of January 7, 2007, that I launched RVGFANATIC into the vast wilderness of cyberspace. To be perfectly honest with you I remember it like it happened yesterday. The first day saw no actual content but rather a note to introduce the reader. The next day I submitted my very first site piece with Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen. After I clicked GO!, my dad called and asked if I could drive him down to the auto repair shop to pick up his car. There was a light rain that Monday night as I recall the vigor of knowing that somewhere, someone... was viewing my content and among the first visitors to do so. It was quite a high for me knowing that as I drove my dad on that wet drizzling freeway. It is a moment in time that I remember fondly to this day, two years later. There was an exciting feeling in the air. Finally, I had started my own website, to air whatever business I deem worthy, to have to wait for nobody, to be my own boss, share my own (sometimes twisted) thoughts and run things as I see fit... it may indeed be two years now, but part of me still feels like it was only yesterday
WELCOME, AND THANKS FOR COMING
*taps into microphone*
Good evening folks. I'm happy to see so many of you in attendance this fine evening. Before we officially launch the night off with a look back on the year that was, I would like to take this opportunity to say something dearly and truly from my heart. And that is.... oh crap... uh... I'll be back in 2 minutes... um, enjoy the musical entertainment for the evening in the meantime... HIT IT BOYS!
There she was just a-walkin' down the street, singing "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do" Snappin' her fingers and shufflin' her feet, singing "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do" She looked good (looked good), she looked fine (looked fine) She looked good she looked fine and I nearly lost my mind
Before I knew it she was walkin' next to me, singing "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do" Holdin' my hand just asnatural as can be, singing "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do" We walked on (walked on) to my door (my door) We walked on to my door, then we kissed a little more
Whooooa-ohhhhh, I knew we was falling in loooooveeeee Yes I did and SO I told her all the things I'd been dreamin' of
Now we're together nearly every single day, singing "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do" We're so happy and that's how we're gonna stay, singing "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do" Well I'm hers (I'm hers), she's mine (she's mine) I'm hers she's mine, wedding bells are gonna chime
I'm hers she's mine, wedding bells are gonna chime
Whoa-oh-oh-oh, oh yeeeah Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do, we'll sing it Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do, oh yeah, oh, oh yeah Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do!
I'm back... that's the last time I drink a gallon of water before going on stage, shoooot Let's give it up for, well, whoever those guys just were. The only group that would work for free ;) Just kidding "Freddy"... alrighty boys and girls on with TEH SHOW!
"WHAT?! YOU SAID THERE WOULD BE NO MATH!"
Wow. It's hard to believe two years ago today I launched RVGFANATIC. It's cliche, but time truly flies. Like a mutha. With one year under my belt, a little more experience and a little more refined style, 2008 turned out to be quite a banner year. I think on the whole, 2008 surpassed the material of 2007. Tonight we look back at the year that was... a year that produced quite a bit of memorable material, from unbelievably lengthy reviews (Ken Griffey Jr. anyone; that one only clocked in at over 280 pictures!) to retrospective articles (from old show reproductions to even, my flea market memoirs). Yup, 2008 was a busy, solid year, and a really fun one for me personally. I hope you enjoyed RVG '08 half as much as I did
But enough yakking, let's get on with it eh?
NEW IN 2008
2008 brought about some new and improved changes to RVGFANATIC
Woot! About damn time, too. In the past all sub-items would appear under a main tab, making things look not very pretty and a WHOLE lot more congested than need be. That all changed when in November the site was hit with a bit of a makeover that saw all sub-links HIDDEN and properly tucked away in their main page. So now when you go to any section on this site, you will not be bombarded with all the other links of that section to your left in the menu bar. Cosmetically, it's just a whole lot nicer this way
Speaking of cosmetic changes, RVG added a site favicon in 2008. Not that it makes a real big difference or anything, but I'm rather fond of the Yoshi mug myself. Even though my site isn't exclusively about the Super Nintendo, I still consider it as my main focus and goal on RVGFANATIC
Another change to RVG in 2008, and perhaps the biggest one, an 8-bit Nintendo section was launched. Like the Sega Saturn, there will be a secondary focus on this system, while SNES remains my primary focus. So far I have Blaster Master, Contra, Karnov and Rampage pieces up. The main difference is that the NES material is on a much smaller scale than that of my typical SNES review, or even any of my articles. Keeping these Nintendo impressions from ten to thirty pictures ideally, it just brings another dimension to RVGFANATIC that didn't exist before. Plus late last year the urge to play these old 8-bit games crept back up to the surface, not to mention my desire to craft shorter, do-it-in-one-sitting site pieces. I'm glad I kept my 130+ NES games that I procured from 2006... otherwise, I wouldn't be able to revisit all these old 8-bit games today, as well as add this new section to my little site
NOTE: NESFanatic has since morphed into "Retro Fire"... a place for all my non-SNES reviews
And now that we've looked at some of the key changes in 2008, let's gloss over the actual material that saw birth that same year...
2008 saw thirteen SNES reviews. It may not sound like a lot initially, but RVG readers know otherwise. Let's look back now at the '08 Super Nintendo reviews in the order that they were published. Excerpts of my favorite parts will also be shared
Fighter's History kicked off 2008 with a bang. At the time it was the largest review I'd written, clocking in at over 230 pictures. Man, it was a beast, to say the very least. I had a lot of good memories of this SNES port back in '94, and I still enjoy it to this day. The review I look back on and can't help but feel transported back to those 5th grade days with my old best pal Nelson. Good times, good times. I shared my history (pardon the pun), my memories and more. Some would say I went a little nuts with this one, but I say I was just having a bit of fun ;) What a year '94 was...
If you were fortunate enough, growing up you had a close-knit gaming group as I did. I mean, I had my best friend Nelly and all, but then I had my boys -- largely an out of town circle of guys whom I grew up playing games with and against. We had sleepovers every month back when everyone was young. One Saturday in '93 we made our usual trek to the local mall and headed straight for the arcade hall on the upstairs wing. I'll never forget that place: CYBERSTATION. There a brand new cab caught my eye with its colorful and cheesy art work proudly adorning all sides of the machine. It was love at first sight you could say. Like a moth to a flame, I dashed to the game, fumbled around in my pocket, fished out a quarter and plopped it in. The rest is (Fighter's) history! [.... -Ed.]
Ahh CYBERSTATION... good times from an era long passed over
I chose Matlok and never looked back. TheONLY thing I could think about the rest of that day was.... not IF, but WHEN, would the game come home via a Super Nintendo...
Wonder no more. In March 1994 EGM's April '94 issue featured Fighter's History on the cover. I was so excited when this issue arrived in the mail. The moment I had been long waiting for! All we got was a half page preview of the import version, with grainy shots I might add, but I didn't care -- I was too happy to finally see some news. I felt like a trekkie who just had his underwear signed by all prominent cast members
And as avid EGM readers know, every April issue saw the tradition of a gag within the magazine of one sort or another. This was one of their weakest, laziest April Fool jokes ever, the typo on Streets of Rage 3, but after the Sheng Long hoax, it was only downhill from there, eh?
Rest In Peace, EGM
The very next month I received EGM issue #58 in the mail. Beating my brother to the punch was critical since he was always a bit anal with me handling his issues more than necessary. Luck be my lady, as that day sprinting home not only did I beat my brother to it, but there it was: ish 58 all wrapped up pretty and ready to go sitting in my mailbox!
JACKPOT CITY, BABY!
I grabbed the issue and ran into my bedroom. Before tearing the wrapper I took a moment to gawk at the front cover. The fighting game rage carried into 1994 without blinking an eye, and EGM was there every step of the way. What a gorgeous cover, init? Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Mortal Kombat II... whoa wait a second. Fighter's History?! YES! Last month saw a half page preview, so I was expecting a BLOW-OUT special. It turned out to be a simple two-page mini-feature with a blurb that the SNES port would be coming out later that summer. I was so amped up and the sad truth is, I admired and reread those two pages until my brother came home about ten minutes later. I didn't even bother to glance over the rest of the magazine! It was only a matter of 3, 4 months...
... Or not. After my best friend Nelson and I wrapped up the final days of 5th grade, we made a list of all the things we wanted to do that summer. The list was simple. Watch as many monster/horror movies as we can, have a sleepover (which for two TRULY best friends had oddly yet to happen), paint the town red and last but not least, play a crapload of video games
One lazy Saturday in June of '94 my dad took us to GAME HUNTER (Memories of Renting). There on the top shelf Nelson and I saw it. What my eyes saw that idyllic Saturday afternoon I'll never forget. I can't begin to describe the feeling of ecstasy that overtook my senses as Nelly and I stood there in silent awe, staring at the top shelf as though it were the Sistine Chapel! Perched on that ceiling-high shelf: Super Famicom games KING OF THE MONSTERS 2, MUSCLE BOMBER (US name SAT Night Slam Masters) and FIGHTER'S HISTORY
I rented King of the Monsters 2 while Nelly claimed Fighter's History. I couldn't think of a much better way than to kickstart one of the last summers of my youth....
Coincidentally arriving in time for the Oscars was Oscar himself. Among the list of (arguably) least known SNES games and least common, Oscar was proof that on RVG no game is off limit for in-depth coverage. I love putting my own stamp on the big boys and such, but games like this which rarely get any attention (for better or worse) is very fun for me to write about. While not what I'd call a quality platformer, it has its moments and has an oddball quirky atmosphere that somehow makes it a quintessential guilty pleasure "THANKS EVERYBODY!"
My brother had an EGM subscription in '96. I know I have spread my fair share of gospel regarding EGM's earlier days but don't get me wrong, I thought it was a quality mag still in the 32-bit era. Of course by now my brother was heavily into the PlayStation and N64. As was I, but to a lesser degree. And unlike my brother, I still cared about my old 16-bit friend, the Super Nintendo, which provided me with so many rich gaming memories that I could never just throw away. By '96, the SNES coverage in EGM was minuscule to say the least, and by late '96? Nearly non-existent. Wasn't their fault, of course. Can't really cover what ISN'T there. You can't blame the game companies for jumping ship to a market much more viable. Darwin's theory... simple as that
Still, I scoured the back pages of each issue that year in hopes to see glimpses of an old friend... see how he's enduring in his final days. A bit morbid, yes, and quite possibly much more lame, but hey, I was 13 and clinging onto an old friend I wasn't ready to let go
But in that spectacularly thick December holiday issue of '96, I needn't look to the back pages. For right in the middle of the mag was a mouth-watering 16-bit special for those few remaining super loyal 16-bit fans
I'll never forget this feature. It was one of EGM's best that year, and it even had an odd retro feel to it in the way they used the colors and fonts as they did. It was fitting, and like watching an old loved one die peacefully in his sleep, it wasn't nearly as bad as the alternatives. Somehow, this spiffy EGM article made my beloved old friend's rite of passage into the afterlife a little easier to bear. It was my friend's final "big" Winter. And as I sat there reading the article by a crackling fire (or not), my eye caught sight of a handful of games I thought, "Hmmm... OK... I know this game ain't great or anything, but damn if they don't look fairly fun and interesting!" ... In that non ground breaking 1993 sort of way, mind you. And of course, Oscar was one of them [I didn't see that coming -Ed.]
Barkley Shut Up and Jam! was a really fun one. Sure the game itself isn't very good but man were the memories. This one went into it all: from my own playground basketball stories to Godzilla vs. Barkley, to even, an exclusive interview with the Round Mound of Rebound himself! ;)
And I ask you, where else could you find a review on this game so extensive and maddening? Perhaps I AM insane after all...
[About time you realized it son... 'bout time -Ed.]
Bats, Bobcats & Barkley
On a quiet, idyllic Monday evening of January 30, 2006, just two weeks into my Super Nintendo resurgence, I stopped by the old Hollywood Video still lingering in the town seeped with my childhood memories and ghosts. Perhaps that was my ulterior motive, but that evening I drove to my old stomping grounds hopeful to add more games to my ever growing collection. Any sensory memories would be but a bonus The old Hollywood Video still pumping in my old hometown :)
Entering the giant store like I had done so many times before more than a decade ago, I wasted no time; not even to revisit the ole horror section where I scoured for the coolest looking boxes as a youth. No, instead, I made a beeline for the Game Crazy hub in the corner. Back then they still had a healthy choice of SNES titles on hand. Look at these six games. I'd wager 99.9% would claim ActRaiser as the most memorable game of this lot. And while I was ecstatic to see it, the game that thrilled me most was actually Barkley Shut Up and Jam! [Are you MAD?! -Ed.] Aside from Bubsy, it's the only game in this set that I rented back in the day. And I enjoyed playing it with my brother and friends. Goes to show you not everything is what it may appear to be. Sadly, I never did get a chance to play ActRaiser back in the '90s, but the beautiful thing about being older and having my own money is the opportunity to not only revisit old childhood faves, like Shut Up and Jam!, but also to finally play the "classics" I missed out on some 12, 15 years ago. And who said being older is all bad? I say it certainly ain't!
While many others may have disregarded Shut Up and Jam! without a second's notice, I, on the other hand, quite happily rescued it from glass case damnation
Me: I know you're busy, so thank you for taking the time
CB: Hey, you gonna give my game a good score, right?
Me: Sure. Of course... so, have you ever, before hand, seen or heard of RVGFANATIC?
CB: Never in my life
Me: Real quick, what was the Godzilla gig like?
CB: Fun as hell. The Japanese people love me, and who can blame them?
Me: Do you mind fielding a few general basketball questions before we get to the video game?
CB: Fire away
Me: What about Ernie? What's it like working with him?
CB: Ernie who? Oh you mean that middle-aged white boy riding my coat tails? Oh OK, that Ernie. Naw Ernie is just wonderful. People stop me on the street all the time to ask me if Ernie is really black, or if he's white
Me: And you tell them what?
CB: That he white as hell. White as Wonder Bread *chuckles*
Me: He keeps you and Kenny in check, eh?
CB: That he does. Naw listen, he's one of the best in the business. I'm really happy for his success. Well-deserved
If one ever needed any proof that this website is ran a bit differently from most others, look no further than the review of one, Soul Blazer. It was stuffed with random tidbits, historic facts and even some major stars from Hollywood, not to mention a cheesy song from the '80s. Rather fitting too I suppose, considering what an offbeat and peculiar game this is. Time to dust off your Master Sword, er, Soul Blade rather, and save the Freil Empire. The fate of an entire nation depends on you. And no Turbo, we're not in Kansas anymore... That's right, when in doubt, always place your rod on a girl's face
Tesla, eh? I always thought it was that bloke Marconi. You learn something new every day! And say, how much did it take to rake in Mr. Freeman eh? [Zero, it was his dying wish... -Ed.]
By the way, if you haven't done so already, you may X the cheesy video link now
[Oh, right right, of course... *peers around cautiously* -Ed.]
Dear Edward, I've gone back and forth the last few days trying to decide whether or not I should even write this. In the end, I realized I would regret it if I didn't, so here it goes. I know the last time we saw each other, we weren't exactly hitting the sweetest notes -- certainly wasn't the way I wanted the trip to end. I suppose I'm responsible and for that, I'm sorry. But in all honesty, if I had the chance, I'd do it again. Virginia said I left a stranger and came back a husband; I owe that to you. There's no way I can repay you for all you've done for me, so rather than try, I'm just going to ask you to do something else for me -- find the joy in your life. You once said you're not everyone. Well, that's true -- you're certainly not everyone, but everyone is everyone. My pastor always says our lives are streams flowing into the same river towards whatever heaven lies in the mist beyond the falls. Find the joy in your life, Edward. My dear friend, close your eyes and let the waters take you home. -Carter Chambers [Morgan Freeman]
Ah, there was no review more painful to write than Ultraman. Not actually because it's the lowest rated game currently on RVG but rather because I just had my wisdom teeth removed! Me, lie idle in a bed? No thanks! Gotta keep busy, so while I shared a good deal of my memories related to this game, I was switching gauze in and out of my bloody mouth. Indeed, perhaps no review was ever written with more love or determination than this one. From my monster movie madness memories to Evergreen Video, this turned out quite nice "OH QUIT YER BITCHIN' KOBAYASHI!"
I remember discovering Gamera not too long after first falling in love with Godzilla. To me the overgrown turtle was always a second fiddle Godzilla knock-off, but like I said, I loved those corny Japanese monster movies to death. One Saturday night my mom and dad took me to this real fancy schmancy mall -- this was way back in the late '80s -- out of town. Because it was so far away we did not frequent this grand mall often, so anytime we did, it truly felt like Christmas! I can recall to this day the excitement welling up in the pit of my stomach as my dad wrestled to find a parking spot on this most mad of Saturday nights. I still remember running up to the second story wing, the red glow of the SAM GOODY sign calling out to me in a sea of heavenly goodness. And like a moth to flame, I ran
I wasted no time, making a beeline for the favorite section of mine in the video tape corner: SCI-FI. I glanced over to the G titles, scouring to see if I had missed any Godzilla movies. Due to this mall having a certain mystique to it unlike those in town, though one was almost as damn good but I digress, I believed this mall might have carried "exclusive" Godzilla movies. Ahh, the innocence of being six or so!
After my disappointment, I was ready to leave when I saw it: Gamera VS Gaos. My heart skipped when I saw the distinctive VS on the side of the box. I knew it had to mean only one thing: MONSTER MOVIE MADNESS! Plucking the VHS out to examine its glorious front and back cover, I came pretty close to having a "mark out" moment. Hell, I did. My dad came over and I shoved the tape in his face. One look at the cover and my dad knew this would be ten dollars well spent; I watched these giant monster movies til the cows came home. My mom was very strict on what I could buy and what have you (as readers of King of the Monsters know), but she knew how happy this tape would make me. She had the power to veto my dad, but much to my delight, she gave him the green light. The rest of the evening I walked around the mall with my mom, dad and brother happily clutching onto the SAM GOODY bag, occasionally glancing back in the bag to admire my gem find. Hmmm, in retrospect it well could have been my first foray of having an interest in the "obscure"... but alas, once again I digress. We came home that night around 9 and my mom let me watch Gamera vs. Gaos, even though it would take me past my bedtime. It was no Godzilla, but to be honest I really didn't care. It was a night to remember, and to this day, I still have that same Gamera vs. Gaos VHS my parents bought me nearly 20 years ago...
**FLASH FORWARD TO FRIDAY, MAY 16, 2008**
On this night my cousin Vivian (from The Wonder Years) treated me out to dinner with her family. We ate at this restaurant that ironically, was just a couple stores down from where Evergreen Video once stood proudly. I hadn't been to that area in eons. As I drove there, I couldn't help but think of all the fond memories I had of my dad taking us there every Saturday to rent the latest 8-bit NES game. Before I headed to the restaurant, I peeked inside the empty store. It looked almost just like how I saw it back in 1992, when it first closed. There was still no other business in place. The only diff between then and now? Debris no longer littered the floor, like it had the first time I peered in only to see the store in shambles. It was sad to see the place devoid of any sort of life. Tom's friendly smile behind the register counter was long gone. As I stared through the glass door like a frozen statue I couldn't help but wonder where he and his family were... were they OK? Were they continuing to live the so-called American Dream? My conscious stream of thoughts were shattered when my phone went off
"Steve! Where are you? Only you would be late to your own party!" Vivian joked
"I'm right outside the restaurant. Be there in less than half a minute"
After a hearty dinner and talks of the future (my bro showed up a quarter of the way in), we called it a night. Good to see all of them again. Billy was still enthusiastically sharing his latest cash cow schemes with Kevin and me as we made our way to the parking lot. What a character. They took off, but I stayed back. I wanted to get one last glimpse at my dear old friend. There was now but only a glimmer of sunlight hitting all the windows of the stores in this strip, giving a surreal Hollywood movie-esque look to it all. I snuck one last peek in the empty store where Evergreen once stood. Oh, what once was. Turning my back on the store, I stood there for a minute to take in the cool night air, reflecting all the while thinking about today as well as down the road. Yes, things have changed, I thought to myself standing there, but that is life. That has always been life. Some things and some times you need to change with the changes in order to survive. Then there are those times where things actually STAY the same, and it's up to you to make the changes yourself. Alas, as the final shards of sunlight pierced the storefront, I decided that was enough reflection for one night. I placed my childhood memories back in the box, dialed up a friend and made my way to my car
The night was still young.... and so was I
Evergreen Video for life is right, pal!
Final Fight remains one of my favorite reviews. There was just something about it that clicked and felt right. From the history (Final Fright: A Haunting To Remember) to the arcade comparison, this piece turned out nicely. The inclusion of two songs, which almost seem like a match made in Heaven, is another trait that I will remember fondly from this review. Overall, if I do say so myself, Final Fight marks one of the best pieces I have cranked out not just last year, but quite frankly, ever
[You're so modest -Ed.] HAGGAR DON'T PLAY THAT!
Not only was Final Fight the first beat 'em up to hit the Super Nintendo, it also happened to be the 2nd SNES game I ever played. Way back in December 1991 on a cold and dreary morning on vacation in beautiful Lake Tahoe. As documented in F-ZERO, the first SNES game I ever played, I found myself home alone in the huge cabin we rented out on a Sunday morning. My family and friends left to breakfast while I was still asleep. My mom didn't want to wake me up after a long night of hanging out with the guys so she decided to let me snooze. The moment I woke up, I felt a chill and knew something wasn't right. The cabin was right out of a horror movie, with demonic-looking hallways and weird hissing noises coming out its sides as though it were a real breathing entity. The cabin was freezing too! I crept downstairs and found a note from Mom explaining why she let me sleep in, telling me to make some Honey Nut Cheerios for myself. But food was the last thing on my mind!
Ever feel a presence in the room with you? That someone, or something, is watching you? That's how I felt on that cold, dreary December morning of '91. But being 8 years old and resourceful, I believed spirits would not mess with me if I had the radio or TV turned on -- any kind of noise. I believed they only attacked those who were 'alone.' So I watched a WWF show for a while. Then I spotted Tommy's Super Nintendo lying on the floor. With no Sunday morning cartoons on TV I decided to fire the ole Super NES up. I started with F-Zero, and then played Final Fight, up until my family and friends came home. Yes, part of me was ecstatic to see them again -- I was no longer alone with this cabin from hell, but something funny happened during my playthrough with the SNES... it made me forget about ghosts and spirits, and instead transported me to the future of video gaming, where you could snap a guy's neck in two and soar 200 feet across a race track suspended high above a futuristic city -- all in stunning graphics and sound. I never looked back
Ah, you gotta love Twisted Sister. Their cult song "We're Not Gonna Take It" became something of a rebellious cry for teenagers and young adults in the '80s with its never-say-die mantra. It was the unofficial official anthem of a generation more than twenty years ago, and, quite frankly, in some circles today it still is
"WE'RE FREE, WE'LL FIGHT, YOU'LL SEEEE!!"
King of the Monsters 2 holds the distinction of being the first sequel review on RVG. As a big fan of the arcade original, I never got to play KOTM 2 until a hot summer day in 1994, after that epic innocent trip to Game Hunter with my best pal Nelson. Man, you talk about the Good Old Days . . . . you're looking at it. Good shit. The game itself will never be mistaken as one of the very best on the SNES, but by all accounts it's a great translation and a very enjoyable 2-player rubber monster romp
Hell, I enjoyed it FIGHT!
June '94 was one for the record books. In my old town there was a small little diehard gaming rental store called GAME HUNTER. Every kid in my town knew it was the place to rent games. It carried nothing BUT games. No film crap, no posters of blockbuster movies adorning the walls, none of that lousy nonsense. Just good ole fashioned video games (and anime). Everything from 8-bit NES to Neo Geo and in-between. And of course, they were perhaps most well-known for their selection of import titles. Keep in mind that back in the early-mid '90s, IMPORT did not mean just another version of a game but rather carried a strong aura of mystique
On a lazy Saturday afternoon in June 1994, my dad drove me and my old best pal Nelson to Game Hunter, as per usual. However, that day turned out to be one of the defining moments of my SNES career. It was right there that Nelson and I nearly fainted, when we saw perched high on the top shelf Fighter's History for the Super Famicom! Nelly and I loved the arcade, and we had NO idea we would see it there that day. It was like finding a hundred dollar bill in your jacket. We just looked at each other flabbergasted. What a gorgeous sight to see the import version sitting there, with the US release months away! "WHY SO SERIOUS?"
If that weren't enough to wet our appetite, right next to Fighter's History was MuscleBomber! Better known to most gaming fans of the mid 90s as SATURDAY NIGHT SLAM MASTERS. It was another arcade game that Nelson and I loved; we sure as hell poured our fair share of quarters into the cab at the local GOLFLAND. Nelson and I grew up as big fans of the WWF. Slam Masters captured that crazy circus of a world quite well, with its almost larger-than-life wrestlers that seemed to have stepped out of some colorful, zany, violent comic book
"Pinch me, Steven. Seriously, pinch me"
My eyes wide like the Grand Canyon, I was practically speechless. There we were, just two ten-year-old boys slobbering like hungry dogs looking at a fine piece of meat
And then, there it was. Right next to Muscle Bomber, which was right next to Fighter's History... KING OF THE MONSTERS 2! I think that was the precise moment where I fainted. All those years searching countless arcade halls for a cab only to be denied, on this day my quest would end. For those of you who have readMemories of Renting, you know I often did the dirty work of renting the games my brother wanted, because at a certain age he became too shy and/or lazy to go rent games on his own accord. That day I said "SCREW IT!" I can't remember what he wanted me to rent, I just knew seeing King of the Monsters 2 changed everything
My dad picked the KOTM 2 box off the top shelf. "You sure this is what Kevin wants?" he asked
Hey, these were bold and reckless times. And I was a bold and reckless guy
And so was Nelson. He rented Fighter's History and I rented King of the Monsters 2. I could only rent one game, and so could he. We agreed to split time that weekend with both games. Hooray for best friends eh? Epic gaming weekend for the ages
Speaking of holding distinctions, man oh man was Ken Griffey Jr. MLB a monster of a review. It is the biggest I have ever created (with over 275 pictures) and I doubt I'll have the energy, time or desire to ever top this baby. The only review to earn a perfect 10 score in 2008, this review dives into it all. From the history of baseball itself to my own personal memories, tributes to the Kid, season stats, game quirks and oh yeah, that infamous Eddie Murphy-Martin Lawrence (from LIFE) special guest appearance... it had it all
One of the best baseball games EVER
I grew up a baseball fan. I enjoyed playing it in real life, playing it on TV, or watching the pros go at it. Field of Dreams is one of my all-time favorite films, and I even used James Earl Jones' riveting moving monologue during the film finale for my first ever University play audition some odd six years ago. Well.... mine wasn't as riveting; I went uncasted you see, but I had a blast nonetheless! I also have fond memories of the 5th grade softball tournament where my Bulldogs team endured, record-wise, one of the worst seasons ever in school history. But, in our final game of the '94 season, the game helped teach us some of life's most valuable lessons. Lessons which go beyond standard testing, rote memory or anything that we could have been told. We had to live it for ourselves, and boy, did we ever. Yup, baseball has meant quite a bit to me over the years. It has been entertaining, and even, enlightening. There's nothing like the tingle you feel in your arm when you swing and the bat connects with the ball, or flopping into 3rd base, wrapping your arms around the bag, stretching a double into a triple. Squinting at a sky so blue it hurts your eyes just to look at it... *breathes in* smell that? That's baseball my friend
I have plenty of fond memories of the game of baseball indeed, as well as I do with Ken Griffey Jr. Presents MLB. Played in '94, bought in '96, and then rebought ten years later in 2006; between then and now I have played at least six (!) 162-game seasons, and have easily logged over 1,000 games of experience. Some folks might deem that absurd, amazing or downright sad. With the game as great as it is though, call it what you want, I could just as easily play six more seasons "There are others, you know..."
"OH easy now Ray you know we ain't twenty five thirty five year old no mo'!"
"Ah shaddup Claude. You know this still in don't cha. Ole Ray still hip, yes he is, ole Ray still hip!"
"More like old Ray's gunna need a new hip!"
"More like Claude betta SHUT THE HELL UP!"
"Haha, fifty years and we still goin' at it. Look at you Ray. Old dried up, crusty, nasty-ass looking fuck!"
"That's where you wrong. Coz I got plenty left in the ole tank. Today, Yankee Stadium. Tomorrow, Ray's BOOM BOOM ROOM"
"Man you been talkin' that up for fifty years, and it's as real as Bigfoot, Ray!"
"Nuff 'bout me, let's talk about you"
"Alright, wha'cha wanna talk 'bout, Ray?"
"Plan? What plan Ray?!"
"The one you got brewing"
"I ain't brewing SHIT Ray! I ain't got no plan!" "Yes you do, I know it, I KNOW IT!"
"Listen here Ray. You gawd damn lost your mind Ray!"
"MMMM hmm. I know you got a plan and I don't care what you say, coz I know you better than that, you sly little motherfucka you"
"MOTHER WHAT! Ray don't make me slap the hell outta ya now. For the last time, I ain't got no plan Ray. We out Ray, we OUT!"
"OH we out, yeah we OUT. That all ya gotta say?"
"Don't talk to me Ray"
"OUT MY ASS!"
"Quit talkin' Ray!"
"I'm just gunna sit here, look at your old black ass and wonder... what you got up that sleeve of yours, coz I know you got something up that sleeve And I'll sing too while I be lookin' at you. UP-PEEER ROOOOM"
From a great SNES game (KenGriffey Jr. MLB) to a not so great one.Home Improvement isn't as bad as most people claim in my humble estimation, but at the end of the day it still is a bad game. Shame too, 'coz it had potential to be a decent game, with a weapon system that was eerily similar to Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts. Skip the game. Watch the show instead
"Randy, can they see the King of the Monsters cab behind me?"
Speaking of Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts, here's the devil itself. One of the earliest SNES titles and also one of the more difficult ones, 2008 was the year I finally sat down with this little gem of a game. I remember having a good amount of fun crafting this one, just a couple weeks away from Halloween. Tucked away inside this massive review is a bit that explains how Demon's Crest came to be, and also, appropriate for its time, Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack and Joe Public
One of the best early SNES games released
Several months after my SNES 'rebirth' so to speak in January of 2006, I decided to re-invest in another old childhood fave: the Sega Genesis. Oh, those were some fun and reckless times, I tells ya. I was scouring eBay nonstop, checking forum selling ads and surfing Craigslist 24/7. And it was on a rainy-as-f*cking hell Friday afternoon that I met ex-gamer Kevin outside an Albertson's to exchange goods. It was my $20, and his five old Sega Genesis games. Among them, of course, was Ghouls 'N Ghosts. Kevin was feeling nostalgic that rainy late afternoon, as before he handed me the game, he looked me dead in the eye and said something that I still remember vividly to this very day. He said, "This is one of the best video games I have ever played." For whatever reason, it was a statement that stuck. I stood outside his red truck holding an umbrella as he sat inside all nice, warm and toasted. A small cute-looking beagle stood on the passenger seat, its head tilted as it stared at me. Kevin went on to tell me that these games were all purchased from him 'back in the day' and that they had been resting unused in his attic for a good number of years now. Alas, he said, it was time to let them go to a new home; one that will seek some use out of these old gems. He cut me a great deal, 20 on all five as I said, and I couldn't have been a happier camper that rainy Friday afternoon. It was one of my most favorite experiences off Craigslist and a very fond game memory from that crazy year of 2006, where I set out to reclaim bits and pieces of my childhood. (see Craigslist Memoirs for more). As the humorless gray afternoon skies continued raining Ghouls 'N Ghosts, I drove home on that wet freeway with a grin as wide as the Mississippi River itself. What a deal, sure, but the human element made it one of my all-time faves
I had briefly seen and played Ghouls 'N Ghosts, ironically, once again at Tommy's place in the late 1980's. It had amazing visuals for its time. Who could ever forget that first gigantic boss who rips his own freakin' head off! Man, what a glorious sight that proved to be. Arthur wasn't much more athletic than in his NES outing, but at least now he could shoot up. And like the NES game before it, Ghouls 'N Ghosts was damn tough. Sadly, try hard as I might, I just could not rekindle the passion I shared with the Genesis (as well as the NES) that I once had way back in the late '80s/early '90s. As a result of such, I sold off my Genesis and all 100+ games. Lemme tell ya, that doesn't go over too well with a pro-Genesis crowd! *laughs* But man, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Like Kevin did before me, it just wasn't seeing any use, and I'm glad to know they went to homes where people hopefully have enjoyed those games. Ironically, the last Genesis game I sold... [Fighting Masters? -Ed.] what else but Ghouls 'N Ghosts... *cue X-FILES theme*
Launched on the eve of Halloween 2008, Super Castlevania IV, arrived in the nick of time for ghost and ghoul loving fans everywhere. A few weeks prior I watched Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers for the 10th time, and the scene between mister Donald Pleasance and Carmen Filpi (God rest their souls) hit a cord with me, thus it nicely made its way into the review in the most elaborate plot re-telling yet. I had a blast creating this one, very much so WHOA... trippy!
My brother Kevin and I, as children born of the early '80s, grew up on a steadfast diet of good ole hearty 8-bit Nintendo adventures. When our esteemed fun-loving uncle moved in with us in the mid-late '80s, life couldn't have been more swell. My parents rarely bought us Nintendo video games. Rather it was our benevolent Uncle Jimmy who helped us procure much of our 18-game collection, over a 5+ year span of 1986-1991. It's hard to believe it's been over 20 years now, but alas, I once again digress
Castlevania was a game I'd seen in Nintendo Power Magazine, and one we rented. There was something about the cover art that captivated my imagination. Being a fan of monsters and such, Dracula's vile mug immediately intrigued me, and I recall thinking to myself how I wished badly to be that barbaric chap there on the box, armed with my trusty magical whip and broad sword, and thwart the evils of Dracula and his cronies. Our childhood friend Tommy had a HUGE NES collection -- I'm talking around 100! Nowadays y'see, such a collection is none too impressive, but back in '89 it was mind-blowing (with carts going $50 a pop no less!). Lucky rich bastard. Anyway, I vividly remember seeing Castlevania tucked in his collection, and we'd play it here and there. Never got too far, but I enjoyed the atmospheric music and concept very much so. Besides, it had to have one of the coolest-sounding video game names EVER. Freakin' CASTLEVANIA, just like the box art itself, it just SCREAMS LEGENDARY. And as the series grew and evolved, it certainly has proven to become just that -- a juggernaut of a famed franchise -- beloved by countless gamers who are still talking about it and playing its various games to this very day. No doubt KONAMI sure hit the motherload with this one!
With the Super Nintendo lying in the wings, it was only inevitable that gamers would see a souped up 16-bit version. And sure enough, on Halloween 1991, Dracula was once more unleashed. The game would come out stateside a little over a month later. Did it live up to expectations? Only the individual can discern that, but by majority's vote in a democracy, the answer is a RESOUNDING YES. By the way, did you know that Super Castlevania IV is actually a remake of the original? It still centers around one, Simon Belmont and the year 1691, just one year prior to the infamous Salem Witch Trials. And now, let us take a walk down memory lane. Let us remember the joys and wonders of this impeccable SNES classic. It's time to relive... remember... replay... RVG-style, baby. My fellow Castlevania freaks, kick your feet up and make yourself comfortable. We usher in Super Castlevania IV with severed, blood dripping arms...
The streak of high profiled, widely beloved SNES games continued with Contra III. More action than you can shake a stick at, few games on the Super Nintendo are as intense, raw or senses-shattering as this bad boy. Once again, I had a tremendous amount of fun putting this one together. The Predator bits were worked in very well I thought and overall, I definitely feel this was one of the more memorable efforts of the year. And yes, I was about 15 years late once more, but damn glad I finally experienced . . . THE ALIEN WARS I like Contra III better than NES Contra, and I loved that one
While many kids grew up on Mario in the mid-late 1980's, and don't get me wrong -- I liked the Italian plumber too, it was really Konami's CONTRA that cemented me as a video game fan for life. There was something real and very cool about being a machine gun-strapped soldier, blasting alien chunks set over some highly atmospheric levels with some of the best and most memorable video game bosses of all time. Plus, perhaps the best thing about it: you could do it with a buddy. When my brother Kevin and I discovered Contra at a rental store in 1988, we fell in love with it. Uncle Jimmy, who then recently moved in with his wife and just had his first born son, David, also fell prey to the wonders of this game. And I can recall many a night where the three of us rotated turns per level with aid of the infamous Konami "30 MEN" code. Uncle Jimmy was so young 20 years ago. Before he had his bad back, before Father Time came a-callin'... he was so energetic and vibrant, and full of night, and life. A part of me can't believe it's now been over 20 years since the three of us stayed up late, huddled around the small Sony TV, taking turns saving the universe. Life happens so fast, doesn't it. But alas, once more I digress. Contra was an awesome two-player game; it had it all. Great graphics, sound, gameplay and it had something even greater: that ever-tricky IT factor. Whatever IT was, or is, Contra had IT. This is not a case of looking back with rose-tinted glasses -- the 8-bit NES conversion still stands up remarkably well to this day, even twenty years after its release
Though ironically, as much as we loved beating the game over and over, Uncle Jimmy never did buy it for us. We rented it several times, and a close friend of ours loaned us his copy in exchange of Legendary Wings, a fair trade if there ever was one... ;)
So perhaps it's fitting I never owned Contra III back in the day either. Though to be perfectly honest, I never played it extensively until very recently. My old friend Tommy had a copy that I'd play here and there back in '92, but mostly, whenever I came over then, I always arrived just in time to see our mutual friends Brian and Bo playing on level 3. It's a memory that's stuck, and perhaps why level 3 is my favorite level of all. So yeah, it's all a bit strange that I didn't jump at Contra III back then despite it being at the top of my most wanted list. I guess one reason why -- Uncle Jimmy moved out in the Spring of '92 when his wife was pregnant for the second time... the same time Contra III came out -- maybe I thought it just wouldn't be the same without him by our side, hooting, hollering and having a good old time. Whatever the reasons were, last month I decided it was time to finally right a 16-year wrong
"Here we are again bro... just you and me
Same kind of moon same kind of jungle...
Real number 10 remember... whole platoon, 32 men chopped into meat... we walk out just you and me, nobody else. Right on top huh? Not a scratch... not a fuckin' scratch. You know whoever got you, they'll come back again. And when he does I'm gonna cut your name right into him... swear to God I will
I'M GONNA CUT YOUR NAME RIGHT INTO HIM!"
"Jesus ain't got nothing to do with this"
"And we're supposed to somehow KILL THAT?!"
"If it bleeds, we can kill it. No sweat"
"I see you sweatin' from over here!"
"I AIN'T GOT TIME TO SWEAT"
In Memory of Stan Winston
The last review of 2008 also happened to be the very first RPG review on RVG. How fitting then that the first role playing game review would belong to the first RPG I ever really played, and beat. People love it, people hate it. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest certainly has quite a mixed bag reaction from gamers. As my first RPG, I rather enjoyed its simplicity and fast moving plot. I probably wouldn't like it as much if this was the 10th RPG I ever played. But for what it sets out to be, it does a good enough job in my humble estimation "What's his first name again.... Bernie?"
Growing up I was a huge fan of fighting and action games. Any game which granted instant explicit gratification from the moment you pressed start, I was a fan of. My brother, on the other hand, was obsessed with RPGs. I never got it. Why would anyone want to spend all day conversing with boring townsfolk, or engaging in slow, plodding turn-based combat? What the heck is SO appealing about the genre? I couldn't figure it out at all. As far as I was concerned 15 years ago, RPG might as well stand for "Real Poor Games." Pretty harsh I know, but hey, I was 10. Then about 10 years later, in late 2003, SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE's championing of RPGs had an incredible affect on me. Suddenly, and for the first time in my life, I began to see the genre in a new light. It didn't take me long to procure all the Saturn RPGs, from Albert Odyssey to Panzer Dragoon Saga. Sadly, I never got around to playing any of them. Flash forward to January 2006. Upon rediscovering my childhood love, the Super NES, I was determined to finally play my first RPG ever. Super Mario RPG perhaps? Earthbound?Chrono Trigger? None of those, actually. I knew in my heart my first RPG could only be... FINAL FANTASY MYSTIC QUEST
Yeah, sure I'd read some negative opinions on it and yes, I'd heard through the grapevine it wasn't worth anyone's time, but that didn't sway me any. Ever since I first saw the Mystic Quest blurbs in EGM back in the day, part of me was always a bit curious about it, despite my fervent RPG dislike then. There was something about MQ that appealed to me. I guess it was the whole training wheels idea thing. I had decided that if I were to ever play RPGs, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest would be the very first. Besides, it's not a bad idea to start at the "bottom" and work your way up. This whole ordeal was just another chance at gaming redemption and fulfilling the wavering fantasies of my youth. Last December, I decided it was time to finally quell a 15-year curiosity. Having experienced the likes of Brandish, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, and Soul Blazer, and enjoyed the adventures very much might I add, the time had come to 'level up' and conquer my very first RPG. All things considered, I can't think of a more "perfect" RPG to begin with...
REVIEW OF THE YEAR
Last year's Review of the Year award went to World Heroes, as I felt it was my favorite review of 2007. This year well, the crop is heavy and it's hard to pick just one review... which is exactly why I'm picking two [Tsk -Ed.]. It's a tie for me between Ken Griffey Jr. and Super Castlevania IV. Griffey is the biggest review ever on RVG, and I'll be damned if such a time consuming effort is ever repeated. Plus it turned out to be a real quality piece and not just a lengthy incoherent one. For those reasons, it's enough to win out. It just evokes the smell of fresh grass, peanuts and breaks the game down like no other. I also really like SCV for its Halloween 4 connection and all the Halloween images... just the "air of menace" that permeates throughout the review is pretty damn cool. These two reviews deserve the award equally
"... You're hunting it ain't ya... yeah yer hunting it all right, JUST LIKE ME"
"What are you hunting, Mr. Sayer?"
"Apocalypse, End of the World, Armageddon. It's always got a face and a name. I've been hunting the bastard for thirty years, give or take. Come close a time or two. TOO DAMN CLOSE. You can't kill Damnation mister. It don't die like a man dies" "I know that, Mr. Sayer...."
These images really added a 'pulse' to the Castlevania review
Sliding into first place.... SAAAAFE!
As you know, RVGFANATIC is not all about Super NES reviews... there's also a supplement of random articles, ranging from my personal life memories, miscellaneous video game memories, retro TV show recaps, etc. Let's take a look at what 2008 produced:
2008 kicked off with a one year anniversary piece that broke down my internet history and how it ALL came to be. Even though it marked one year for the site, in reality perhaps RVG was a project ten years in the making. From my days as Leprechaun over at Horrormovies.com and Monster Zero in the late '90s, to chronicling my "video game comeback" in 2001 and how I fell back in love with the good ole Super Nintendo, RVG Retrospective tells all "OH YE GOT ME LUCKY POT O' GOLD!"
In a bizarre but very cool coincidence, this piece was cranked out on the EXACT day of Famicom Contra's 20th anniversary. I didn't know it either until I checked wondering when it was released. Commemorating Contra shares my fond childhood memories playing this classic game with my brother and Uncle Jimmy, rotating turns blowing alien scum to Kingdom Come. Over 20 years of memories, Contra will forever be.... pure awesomeness This game rocks to this very damn day
Who could forget the sights and sounds? Konami were maestros. 20 years later the tunes are still stuck in my head, and the bosses firmly planted in my heart. Nobody could do bosses like Konami. They knew just how to spark your imagination, and really brought the enemies and end level guardians to the third dimension... to real life. Never have I played a game where we talked about the bosses as much as we did with Contra. They were awe-inspiring, gruesome and highly note-worthy. Killing them always felt so satisfying, and if you were crazy like me, you shared "war stories" about it with your friends as though it were a genuine badge of honor. The game had, and still has, that special connection with gamers the world over. That is partly why we cherish it so, even 20 years later
Simply epic, simply classic
In January 2008, my cousin finally married her boyfriend of over 10 years. It was an amazing time where all my family came together. I reminisce about the good times shared with Uncle Jimmy, my cousins Vince and Vivian, her crazy boyfriend, and even my cousins from out of state who came down for the momentous occasion. Indeed, those were some of the best years of my life... those were The Wonder Years
Camping out in our backyard was one of my favorite things to do, thanks in no small part to Uncle Jimmy. Being under the stars, the moon, nature... Mother Earth. The soothing and gentle sway of the leaves dancing in the cool night air... ahhh. Uncle Jimmy would set up three lawn chairs that fold out like a makeshift bed. Laying back, Kevin and I admired the streaking stars in the vast night sky as Uncle Jimmy wove grandiose tales ranging from ghost stories (my personal favorite) to random anecdotes entwinged with his own life backstories. We spent many lazy summer nights this way. For at least a solid hour, if not two, we hung onto every last word that came out of Uncle Jimmy's mouth. You can never get those serene and idyllic summer nights back, no matter how much you want to
Then came Saturday -- the big wedding. I had to be there at 7 AM to help set some things up, so I woke up around 5:30. It was a long day, but one I will never forget. Sitting there at the banquet with my cousins, taking in the lovely ambience of the evening, I found myself thinking about the future. Where will all of us be five years from now? Where will I be? I saw the vision in my mind, and I knew in order to get there, I had to work harder than ever before. Just seeing all my family there, not to mention watching Viv and Billy getting hitched, made me think about my own future. Five years isn't that far off. Where will we be? FIVE YEARS ISN'T THAT FAR OFF....
On Sega Saturn's 13th Birthday here in the good ole US, I honored the occasion with my own personal Saturn history; how it all came to be and why I love games still today. It's really all because of the Saturn, as it began my journey into 'diehard' gaming pastures. It all started with my bro's burning desire to own Fire Pro 6 Men Scramble, and my wish to own Fighter's History Dynamite and World Heroes Perfect. It's my SEGA Saturn SAGA!
I dunno whether to thank OR BLAME the Saturn...
On a cold December night of 1998, my dad drove me to a local import store that promised to find any game in Japan that your heart desired for the low deposit price of $14.99. I fondly remember rushing in that tiny, long strip of a mom n' pop-ish store, shoving the EGM issue in the guy's face and saying, almost out of breath, "Put me down for this game!" "World... Heroes... Perfect-uh," the clerk said in a very thick Japanese accent. "What's that?" I shoved the EGM preview into his face, "Here!"
For a nation of kids and families, Fridays back in the late '80s and early '90s could only mean one thing: TGIF. And on a Friday the 13th of June 2008, we took a trip back into time with a recap of one of my favorite Full House episodes. It's got a timeless tale: about love, friends, hope, heartbreak and more. At one point or another, we have all been there. Indeed, TELL ME!WHERE CAN I FIND A WOMAN LIKE THAT?
It's Jesse's Girl "I'm sorry, no sale, boys. Love just does NOT happen that fast"
One of the really cool things that came into mind as I crafted this piece was the inclusion of 2 minute commercials at the halfway point. Missed it? Here's another chance to relive it
"I DO seem to fall in love a lot. Just because I'm ALWAYS HOPING that this is THE ONE. I just want to meet one nice special girl I can spend my life with"
"Aww Jesse, everybody WANTS THAT. But you don't have to try so hard. When the right woman comes along... you REALLY will know it"
Bro's before ho's... or maybe not
Summer time. Heat. Crowds. Smell of BBQ and bargains... yup, it can only be the flea market. I've had some great flea market memories in 2006, and my Flea Market Memoirs shares it all. From the nice vendors, to the nasty ones, my trades, deals and even hoodwinking the store manager of a Game Crazy, this piece recalls those exciting early times of game hunting. Also features The Kite Runner and connects it rather well
".... Cool... so, what game you wanna exchange it for?"
THE KITE RUNNER
... is one of my favorite books and comes highly recommended. When I read the flea market scene in the book, in a way, it made me think of my own flea market adventures, and the crazy things one can see and do at a flea market. OK, maybe we won't find true love at the flea market, but would you settle for some pretty damn good video game scores? I know I would, and so, I present to you, my flea market memoirs
Read the book before you see the movie
I'd get up early some Saturday mornings and drive south on Highway 17, push the Ford up the winding road through the mountains to Santa Cruz. I would park by the old lighthouse and wait for sunrise, sit in my car and watch the fog rolling in from the sea. Back in Afghanistan, I had only seen the ocean at the cinema. Sitting in the dark next to Hassan, I had always wondered if it was true what I'd read, that sea air smelled like salt. I used to tell Hassan that someday we'd walk on a strip of seaweed-strewn beach, sink our feet in the sand, and watch the water recede from our toes. The first time I saw the Pacific, I almost cried. It was as vast and blue as the oceans on the movie screens of my childhood.
After a nice hot shower, I found the dawn just breaking between two white buildings. The sky was mostly gray but a streak of white stretched itself from the end of a flagpole. By the time I finished breakfast, the sky was lighter than it had been when I woke up -- the streak of gray broadening into a patch of brilliant day
I was a man on a mission. 3 weeks into my SNES rebirth (1.17.06), I was gearing to embark on my first flea market voyage since 2002. With a wish list the size of Rosie's waistline and a wallet jammed full of dead presidents, I headed off into that cool early morning, the light February breeze brushing against my face. As I pulled into the parking lot something told me today was going to be a good day, maybe even a great one. I gazed at the box office where I saw the growing crowd purchasing their tickets. Just think, I thought to myself... beyond that building there... lies a part of my childhood
To cap off the successful, splendid early morning voyage, on the way home I purchased a Birthday card for my pal Shanice (from Playback II) which I later had all us theatre kids sign. I finally got home around 12:30. It was one of those idyllic peaceful mornings you wish would never end. The kind that makes you feel as though the whole world is at your fingertips; where the only limit, is the sky itself. The kind of ripe morning that makes you feel like writing that novel you'd always intended to, starting that RPG game you had long vowed to begin, or finally calling that old best friend you'd been meaning to catch up with, but never did. It was indeed one of those "perfect" Saturday mornings... the ones that stay with you for a lifetime
Waking up that morning I didn't know whether I'd find any games of worth that day at the flea market or not. In the end, was I ever glad I went. I also knew... I would return...
RVG celebrated its one and a half year anniversary with a recap of one of my favorite episodes, from one of my favorite TV shows growing up. Tale of the Lonely Ghost is about a ghost who is, uh, well, lonely [You're fired -Ed.]. When Amanda Cameron was shipped off to her Aunt Dottie's house for the summer, she had no idea she would be in for the scare of her life. Her cousin Beth dared Amanda to spend the night in the creepy old abandoned house next door, claiming that it was haunted by a foul spirit. Amanda didn't believe in ghosts... until she saw one. And what's up with that creepy looking old nanny, anyway? I really had a blast making this piece and recreating this great episode for all of us to relive and remember. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a classic show, no doubt!
"PLAY WITH ME...."
Asked to link my surplus fascination with anything that has to do with the supernatural, I can trace it all back to one man: Uncle Jimmy. Back in the late '80s and early '90s, when he lived with us, oh he was so full of energy, full of life, and full of night. On many weekend nights we camped out in our backyard. Uncle Jimmy pulled out three lawn chairs that folded out like makeshift beds. Along with my brother Kevin, the three of us would lay back and take in the nice warm summer night air, admire the streaking stars in the night sky, as Uncle Jimmy wove grandiose tales ranging from random anecdotes, fables, and my personal fave, his infamous stories of the supernatural. No one told ghost stories quite like Uncle Jimmy could. Hey we're talking about the same guy here who introduced me to John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN when I was only six-years-old! See, it's all his fault. For at least a solid hour, if not two, we hung onto every last word that came out of Uncle Jimmy's mouth. You can never get those serene and idyllic summer nights back, no matter how much you want to
Uncle Jimmy's twisted ghost tales never ceased to scare the heebie-jeebies outta me. Long before creepy ladies with long flowing hair became a staple in the horror movie genre, Uncle Jimmy was king of that domain. Almost all of his stories featured a creepy lady. It's no wonder one of my recurring nightmares as a young child was this decrepit elderly woman always stalking me. The scary thing is, I wasn't the only one. My brother had the same nightmares. He dreamt of the old lady too
Sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat... the nightmare always being cut off right as the old lady seized my arm in a vice-like grip. I turned on the light, only to find a mark on my arm. (Of course, I slept on my arm, but I was too young to know any better). You would think I'd tell Uncle Jimmy to stop telling us his spooky stories, but it was an addiction. Eventually, the old lady disappeared from my nightmares for good. I guess finally I was old enough and able to beat the beast. My brother and I randomly talk about the old lady in our nightmares once in a blue moon to this day. The description of her and the scenarios we found ourselves in in the nightmares always frighteningly mirrored each other. Freddy Krueger? Puh-leese. Freddy can't hold a candle to the old lady that often haunted the nightmares of my youth
The night Uncle Jimmy rented Halloween for me when I was only six-years-old in 1989, I had a nightmare of the boogeyman, Michael Myers. And yet despite all these potentially traumatizing episodes, I could never get enough of ANYTHING that had to do with ghosts, monsters, goblins, witches -- you name it
So imagine my gleeful joy when "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" debuted on Nickelodeon on a summer night of '92. With Uncle Jimmy moving out in spring '92, I was missing my weekly supernatural supplement. This show did more than well to fill in that void. In fact, and don't tell my dear ole uncle Jimmy this, between you and me, at times it was even better. Sure, it's fun to use your imagination to form pictures in your head as a storyteller weaves his or her tale, but you know, sometimes, you just can't beat the effectiveness of picture and sound. Are You Afraid of the Dark? became a hit show among young viewers... becoming an instant hit (cult) classic overnight in my small little town. Everyone was raving about it, and anyone who was anyone, watched it religiously. Yes folks, before Nickelodeon became crap, it was once legendary. And shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark? were among the main reasons why
I just loved the way they opened up each episode, talking up their story dramatically before fading to the really good stuff. There were even subplots to the Midnight Society characters; crushes and pseudo rivalries, just like any dynamic you would find with any group of teenagers. They really weren't friends -- one thing brought them together each week. That one thing being... their sick love of spooky stories. The kind that makes the hair on your neck stand on end on a warm summer night. It was a show that made you feel like you were sitting by the campfire as well. It just had a personable touch to it that grabbed you and didn't let go -- even long after it went off the air. You know, somethings from our childhoods we overhyped, personally in my humble opinion I think of GameFan as one of those things, but Are You Afraid of the Dark? is certainly not in that group. Tonight, I'm proud to bring you one of my favorite episodes from the Dark vault. It's the third ep from the show, originally aired on August 29, 1992... it's called...
THE TALE OF THE LONELY GHOST
Quite a creepy read on a dark night...
In July 2008, I was an instructor for a public speaking class for 5 year old kids. It was quite a unique experience, spending 2 and a half hours each day with the rascals. But one day, when a pair of twins told me that their favorite video game of all time was King of the Monsters 2, and for the SNES no less, my faith in humanity was completely restored. One question, uttered from one of the 5 year olds... and it was simply... Who is the Robot Monkey?
Teaching little kids this summer the art of public speaking has been a great experience. Tell me about it, kids that young going through public speaking courses is a bit mind-boggling. I mean, when I was five public speaking was the last thing on my mind. Then again, things were a lot different back in 1988. Communication is bigger than ever and I guess you can never start them too early. Some of them were naturals at it while others I had to work extra diligently with in order to help them overcome their shock of public speaking, pardon the pun. I enjoyed my time with the kids greatly, but the *one* moment that I will always remember the fondest is, hands down, the SNES King of the Monsters 2 fiasco. I loved and played that damn game to death 14 scorching summers ago. And now? It is the favorite game of two five-year-old twins in the year 2008... quite a trip if ya ask me!
The last article of 2008 ended things with a bang. A tale about two old best friends, the passing of time, and what happens when old friends, living life in opposite directions, reconvene. It's a timeless tale that many of us sure can relate to. Hell, I know I can. My own Stu Cutler of sorts is my old best friend Nelson. But unlike Stu, Nelson is not trapped in the past, and we still get along quite well even some odd 20 years later. The past was terrific for us, no question about that, but we're both smart enough to know that we cannot turn back the hands of time, no matter how much, at times, we might want to. For Whom the Belch Tolls is one of my favorite eps from the classic sitcom Home Improvement. When Tim's old best buddy Stu comes back to town, it ain't quite 1976 no more...
"... Just like the ole days eh?" "JUST LIKE THE OLD DAYS!"
Why was the show so popular? Sure, people enjoyed watching Tim blow things up, break random gadgets, and knock out Bob Vila with a 4x8, but there was more to the show than that. I grew up a huge fan of the sitcom. All the characters were very likable, from the never-ending philosophical wisdom of wacky Wilson, Al's wonderful rapport with Tim, rock-bottom Benny, and of course, who could forget the gorgeous Debbe Dunning as the Tool Girl? Beyond all this, the show was funny. Not everybody enjoyed it, but I sure as heck did. Some ep's were plain silly, while others dealt with more serious life matters yet managed to do it in classic Home Improvement fashion: handling it with the right touch of sensitivity yet maintaining the light-hearted sense of humor the show was so well known for. Episodes about drugs, cancer and death among others. Sure, this was nothing new among TV sitcoms (Full House and Saved By The Bell had already dealt with such issues) but nevertheless Home Improvement added its own spin on it and did so successfully. It was just a classic sitcom and the last one I ever really cared about. It had great parts that combined into one memorable whole. Of course, Tim will break every part... but that's also part of the show's charm, right? ;)
"Don't you wish we could go BACK, live those days all over again?"
"Wilson, can I ask you something?"
"Make your best pitch, Timmy"
"I got this old friend in town, and I always think we're going to have a lot of fun, but instead we always talk about all the fun we used to have"
"Well there's nothing wrong with reminiscing, Tim"
"But he thinks I'm the same guy I was 15 years ago"
"Mmm hmm, mmm hmm, mmm hmm"
"And I try to be that guy but, I'm really not. I don't know what to do about him" "Well it sounds to me like you're having a hard time saying goodbye"
"Why should I say goodbye? He's been one of my best friends for 15 years"
"Well has he Tim... or was he your BEST FRIEND, 15 years ago?"
ARTICLE OF THE YEAR
As much as I love the recap pieces, I have to say the best original article of 2008 belongs to Flea Market Memoirs. I had originally written the text way back when, and finally got my ass in gear when I took the photos in June last year. I'm very proud of this piece as it combines a hot intro (with The Kite Runner), is 100% true, and all in all, some of my best written work that really meshes. I take pride in writing about universal things most of us have experienced, but writing it in my own voice, my own memories. It's what makes one person's writing different from another. And this article is a prime example of how one person's stories, although unique to them, is understood by others and appreciated, as I have received feedback saying this article was one of my best works, and really enjoyable top to bottom
Flea Market Memoirs... THE Article of 2008
Time to address some of your feedback in 2008 . . . . .
Very cool site. I love the feel of the site... Just the site layout reminds me of the SNES which is great. I'm a big fan of the reviews.
Keep up the good work.
Thanks EStorm. I like the basic, simple layout myself, especially now that the navigation is more conventional. Another thing I take pride in is how the site basically looks the same today as it did when it launched two years ago on January 7, 2007. A lot of other sites change their design for whatever reasons... but rest assured, RVG won't be one of those sites
Ah yes, the good ole Sushi-X days. Thank you sir
*laughs* Thanks for the short and sweet message, Hector. Yes indeed, the good ole Sushi-X days. Y'know, my old gaming group we actually nicknamed one of the older cats Sushi-X. One, he was obsessed with Street Fighter II. Two, likewise to EGM. I remember one time we went to the supermarket, and the EGM issues were all wrapped. I, of course, relegated myself to read a GamePro issue, since it was already unwrapped. Our friend "Sushi-X" however, would have none of that. He grabbed the EGM issue, ripped open the wrapping and proceeded to sit down with the magazine as though it were as natural as breathing. My brother Kevin and I looking at each other flabbergasted, and it's a memory that sticks to this day
The good ole Sushi-X days indeed :)
Love your site. Especially your tribute to Contra. I remember when my brother and I would fight because one of us couldn't keep up during the waterfall stage. Brings back so much memories
Contra was a game that touched many of our lives in a way your average video game could only dream of. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed my Contra tribute. It brought back a lot of memories for me as well... those endless nights my brother, Uncle Jimmy and I used to spend huddled around our small Sony TV monitor blasting alien scum to Kingdom Come... over twenty years ago. Man, the memories indeed... *sniff* Anyone got a tissue? 20 years later and still TRUCKIN'!
Awesome site. Not many sites have so much information about so many obscure games. You've done a great job.
I managed to find a complete and near-mint copy of Kirby no Kira Kira Kids for under $50. The title of the item was "Kirbys", so if you searched for "Kirby", it wouldn't come up. Perhaps that's why it didn't sell so high. But my point is, I never would have found it if it wasn't for your site. Keep up the good work!
Yes, the site started out with a ton of "obscure" Super Famicom information, transferred over from the various message boards I posted them on. In general, I always get a kick out of sharing my thoughts on lesser known games, whether they are obscure Japanese imports or simply those US games that went under the radar, and part of why I enjoy it so much is because of folks like you, Sam
Nice deal on that near mint CIB Kirby no Kira Kira Kids, by the way! Hard to find, pricey SFC-only sucker!
You should box up that Launchpad McQuack figure and mail it to me. Right now. What are you waiting for? :D
Ahhhhh DarkWingDuck13... you candy-tongued jokester you. Believe you me, if I still had the goofy bastard, it'd be on your way in the mail as we speak
And yes, I know, I know... I should review Super Turrican... maybe by 2012, eh? *wink*
(For those who don't know, DWD13 was alluding to my Launchpad story in my Ultramanreview)
Stumbled upon your site when I was searching for reviews on Super Bomberman 5. Excellent reviews man. I'm always looking for a cool obscure game to add to my collection. But I'm no collector. I'm just looking for 2d fun in a 3d world. Keep up the good work
Appreciate it, Greg
I hear ya about looking for 2D fun in a 3D world. More power to those of you out there who love 3D or love both, but these days I just happen to love 2D most
And for my reviews, I just want to have fun writing them, hopefully they're fun to read in return
You gotta love fiesty females...
I don't know if I told you how much I love the RVGFANATIC website, but I'll say it again if i hadn't before. Even though they are your stories/memories, they really do evoke the nostalgia of my own snes experiences. Thanks and Keep the site going!
Thanks Garin. You kinda said it, my friend. Although all of us have our own unique experiences, a really good story is often times an universal one. So while you may not have an Uncle Jimmy per se, or I might not have a Cousin Joey, the core of our stories are beyond just our own stories but somehow... woven into the fabric of our very beings
Many of us recall that mom n pop rental shop in our old neck of the woods, or the first game we ever played on the Super Nintendo, or the first game we bought, and the list goes on. I can only speak on my personal experiences, and it turns out although yours is most likely not identical, one is still able to relate to my own (gaming) experiences growing up
I have been following your site for some time now and I must say I really enjoy your work. I don't always agree with your game scores, but I love the presentation. It's unlike any other gaming site I can think of, and reminds me of a "mom and pop" type fansite with the kind of passion and weird little touches you don't find on the "big sites."
This has become easily one of my favorite game sites to visit. The reviews are amazing and I also enjoy your Miscellaneous pieces. I find I relate to a lot of experiences you write of, as I too was a child of the late 80s and 90s. In a day where sites are pushed out like ants, thank you for creating a truly unique, one-of-a-kind effort.
What can I say, I have fun sharing my own personal memories and yes, other sites frown upon doing such, but I don't care for "professional" image or status. This is just who I am and how I run things. At times it's random, quirky, offbeat, but all in all, hopefully coherent =p
Absolutely love the site. You've got a great writing style and a varied taste in magazines and games. I'm currently working on the launch issue of a new digital retro magazine (at pre-development stage) and I think you would be a valuable asset to the team. Feel free to contact me
Neil, as I responded to you back in September when you wrote this message, first of all thank you for your compliments. Unfortunately I am unable to join your staff as I have plenty to keep me busy here on RVG and honestly, when it comes to this kind of stuff, I work best as a lone wolf. All the best with regards to your new digital retro magazine
Great site! It made me rediscover some really nice games I had forgotten about, and new ones I never knew. As SFC games go, personally I have enjoyed very much "Hammerin Harry" back in the days and still play it once in a while
I enjoyed Ganbare Daiku no Gensan quite a bit, too. Solid little platformer, shame it didn't come out in the US as "Super Hammerin' Harry" but if it did, rest assured a lot of alterations would have been made in the translation, heh
Cheers, Timothee, and thanks for stopping by
"BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!"
I've been reading your site for the last few days, and it has been quite enjoyable. About 5 years back I started on a similar path as you, re-buying all the SNES games I loved as a kid (and others I never got to try). I guess everyone has these same nostalgic feelings about one thing or another, but your writing style puts in to words almost my exact feelings. Great site, and keep up the good work.
Ben, as I said earlier to gamers like Garin and Brian, part of my joy comes from knowing that my experiences and memories are being read by people all over the world who have had similar experiences to that of my own. It's a pretty cool feeling lemme tell ya, to put out a review or article that you're REALLY proud of, and had fun putting together, and knowing there are others out there who will not only get a kick out of it, but that it somehow makes them think to their own lives... to an earlier, perhaps more innocent era that has long been replaced by clogged eight lane highways and junk email
Hi, very cool site. Lots of great reviews and pics and the humour is appreciated as well. Thanks :)
You're welcome, Gavin. Hey, I'm just doing something I enjoy in the only matter I know how: to be serious, YET at the same time take a light-hearted approach. It's been a blast so far, and I'm glad you're enjoying the trip as well :)
Awesome site btw! I love some of the articles here, the SNES is my favorite system and I've grown with mine for years. Fav game is Illusion of Gaia
Jet, maybe I'll get around to reviewing Illusion of Gaia this year. I liked it better than Soul Blazer
Great site man, love the articles, they truly bring back good memories of the games of my childhood.
No problem, bro. If I didn't have fun myself, do you think I'd be doing this for you knuckleheads? *wink* Cheers mate
GOODBYE 2008, HELLO 2009
So what does the year 2009 bring for RVGFANATIC? Last year this time I had said 2008 would probably see a lot less updates, and while that was true, I was still very consistent with material last year. THIS YEAR... I think I finally will slow down a bit more. For a long while I have thought about shortening my SNES reviews, but I never really have. Perhaps, you will see much shorter reviews in 2009. Then again, maybe you won't, as old habits are hard to break. I do think though that my time in 2009 working on this site will be significantly less than the last two years. Life is getting more and more in the way and honestly, it's a question mark how much I will be around. But unless something completely insane happens, I will probably keep things going, just not as much as these past two years and also, perhaps not as lengthy
....... PERHAPS *wink*
2008 was a great year. Some really solid reviews and memorable articles were produced. I hope you enjoyed the year as much as I did
I hope you also enjoyed tonight's two year retrospective. It's been fun being your host for this evening as well as the past 730-plus. Drive safe y'all and have a good night!
"AHEM!" *taps into the microphone*
[Hey, what's going on??? -Ed.]
[CUT HIS MIC! -Ed.]
*adjusts tie* Ahem.... well that's all the time we have for tonight... see you next time!