Sega Saturn Saga

Congrats big boy -- you can finally drink legally
Congrats big boy — you can finally drink legally

Today marks the 21st birthday of the Sega Saturn in North America. Insert obligatory “time flies” and “wow where does the time go?” comments here. I have a long and fond history with Sega’s 32-bit beast. It’s my second favorite system of all time (you can probably guess which system is #1 in my heart) and I credit the Sega Saturn as the first system that truly made me a diehard gamer-collector. Being that we toast to the Sega Saturn’s 21st today, I can’t think of a better time than now to share with you how I fell in love with the Saturn, and what it meant to me over the years. This is… my Sega Saturn saga.

A QUICK NOTE BEFORE WE PROCEED

If it weren’t for the Saturn, I probably wouldn’t be into video games today. Although I grew up loving the NES, Genesis and Super Nintendo, it wasn’t until my time with the Sega Saturn that I came to appreciate games on a ‘deeper’ level. Of course, age maturation factored in, too. Unknowingly, the Saturn turned out to be my first voyage into “diehard” gaming pastures. It all started innocently enough before morphing into a savage monster. Sit back a while, young lad, and listen to the tale of the elders.

FLASHBACK TO 1998

My brother and I had a PlayStation in the late ’90s. Sure, I played and liked it reasonably, but my passion for gaming was slowly and surely slipping away around 1998. By the tail end of that year I was barely playing video games at all. The PlayStation did not appeal to me in the way the NES, Genesis or SNES had. I was on the brink of losing interest in gaming altogether.

That’s when fate decided to step in.

... and hit me with a nice, stiff clothesline
… and hit me with a nice, stiff clothesline

At that time my bro was going through his e-fed fad. An e-fed is a group of folks who role play their own wrestling persona and the booker pits the wrestlers against one another, with the victor being decided by who wrote the better promo. The e-fed community was buzzing at that time about a wrestling game available only on the Japanese Saturn… FIRE PRO WRESTLING: SIX MEN SCRAMBLE.

My bro has his game, and I had mine...
My bro has his game, and I had mine…

Just like in the old days when my bro made me do all the dirty work renting his video games, he ordered me to find a Saturn for cheap. Of course, his motivation was Fire Pro. But I had my own: WORLD HEROES PERFECT. I remember seeing the little preview in an EGM issue a couple years back, thinking how cool it would be to own a copy but because it was a Saturn game, and an import no less, I thought I never would. But what was once seemingly a far-fetched fantasy was quickly morphing into reality!

EGM was still a solid read back in ole 1996
EGM was still a solid read back in ole 1996

Here’s the EGM issue I can thank, or blame, for that unconscious desire to one day, somehow, own a copy of World Heroes Perfect. My bro subscribed to EGM in ’96 and I remember seeing Perfect featured in a quick half-page preview in the back of the August ’96 issue. I was indifferent toward the Saturn at the time, and my bro, who made all the game system purchasing decisions, was totally anti-Saturn. So I knew I could pretty much kiss any realistic thought of owning Perfect goodbye. Still, when you’re 13, there’s a certain robust shimmer of hope that nobody can ever deny you, and that includes older brothers who are in charge of, well, everything.

The desire to own a Saturn hit me like a thousand punches
My desire to own a Saturn hit me like a hundred blows

For years the thought and hopes of owning this import title laid dormant in my mind. Until, that is, one frosty winter evening of 1998. My bro literally charged at me and commanded me to go find a Saturn on the cheap. At that precise moment of shock it hit me… I can finally soon play, and own, World Heroes Perfect! *maniacal laughter*

You could say it was a critical moment in my gaming fandom
It was a critical moment in my gaming fandom

Really, were it not for Fire Pro and my brother’s burning desire to own a copy back in the winter of ’98, I probably wouldn’t be into games today. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, or a bad thing!

After I got over the shock, I sprung into action
After I got over the shock, I sprung into action

We each had our own reasons to get a Saturn. And thus, the search was on!

HOOK ME UP, BRO

I pointed to the half-page preview desperately
“World… Heroes… Perfect-uh… what’s that?”

On a cold December night of 1998, my dad drove me to a local import store that promised to find any game in Japan your heart desired for the low deposit price of $14.99. I fondly remember rushing in that tiny, long strip of a mom and pop 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 thick Japanese accent. “What’s that?”

Hanzou's favorite number is 31. Clearly...
Hanzou’s favorite number is 31. Clearly…

My jaw dropped ten meters. This fool never heard of these games before?! “Very old Street Fighter II wannabe,” I told him, pointing to the half-page preview. “Can you find it for me?”

“Hmmm,” he pondered, scratching his chin. “I am sure so. Our search and locate skills are the best. I just need one thing from you.”

“What?”

“Fourteen ninety-nine,” he said, a small grin crossing his face as he held out his hand.

With my hopes high, it felt like the perfect night, pardon the pun
With my hopes high, it felt like the “perfect” night…

I glanced over at my dad and just like the good old days, once again like he had done so many times before, he whipped out his wallet and made the magic happen.

I watched intensely as the clerk jotted down my information — name, number, title of wanted game, all that — before asking him excitedly and optimistically, “So, when can I expect to pick it up?”

There was a momentary pause. “Oh, well, there’s a, uhhh, slight chance we might not be able to find it…” his voice trailed off.

So much for best search and locate skills eh?

“But don’t worry,”
he assured. “We usually have success. If not, you get your full fifteen dollars back.”

While my dad paid, I stared at the Sonic Adventure demo running in the corner. It drew a hearty crowd, but I found myself only thinking of one game that fine evening. While everyone and their brother were eagerly huddled by the Japanese Dreamcast console, with its late ’90s newfangled technology, I was just barely getting started on the Saturn!

My love for gaming, like the Phoenix, was resurrected that night
My love for gaming, like the Phoenix, was resurrected

That night as my dad and I walked out of the small import shop sandwiched between a bakery and knick-knack store, I remember soaking in the energy of the night. In less than one month hopefully, I will finally be playing me some World Heroes Perfect! For the first time ever… BOO-YAH!

Only a month or two at the most, right? Right…

PUTTING THE FUN INTO FUNCOLAND

In January 1999, my dad and I entered a FUNCOLAND. Moments later, we walked out with a used Saturn for the low price of $39.99. Cradling the box against my chest as though it were Frankenstein’s heart, I walked out of the store feeling a jolt of adrenaline rushing through every fiber of my body. I just bought a Saturn. A whole new gaming world to explore… hell yeah!

THE HUNT CONTINUES

Meanwhile, no sign of either Perfect or Fire Pro. My bro sent our newly acquired Saturn off to NCSX for the modification job. Weeks later, my dad and I stopped by the import shop to inquire about the status of WHP. The clerk apologized, saying his men could not locate a copy over in Japan. Oh, the high walking in hoping for the best, and the low of having your bubble burst with a ten ton hammer of denial. Hey, at least my dad got back his $14.99, eh?

Here comes a real hero: the intrawebz!
Here comes a real hero: the intrawebz!

Then came the beautiful glow of that little thing known as… the internet. I posted on a SEGA newsgroup stating my desire to buy World Heroes Perfect. I received a response from a guy named “Azaziel” or something other. He was willing to sell his complete copy for $25. It was the very first video game internet transaction of my life (of what would end up totaling 1,000+…)

It all started with a newsgroup dealing… no feedback, no pics. I wasn’t so shrewd back then as I am now [HA! -Ed.], so I didn’t bother asking for those things you see. Really, I relied solely on my gut. Total blind faith. Something told me this would end well. Hell, I even sent cash through the mail. A crisp 20 and a fiver inside a VHS cover. Hey, I was 15 and dumb, OK? :P

A week later, World Heroes Perfect arrived in the mail. I’ll never forget that day. What a high seeing the package sitting pretty in my mailbox! Unfortunately, when NCSX sent our Saturn back there was an error that prevented us from playing World Heroes Perfect. Before my bro could ever send the Saturn back for repairs, there was a slight… snafu

WHERE’S A HERO WHEN YA NEED ONE?

What goes up... must come down...
What goes up… must come down…

That same month we were robbed. It’s horrifying to come home only to find your back window smashed, muddy footprints all over the carpet and the house a former shell of its past glory. The computer, my mom’s jewelry, and all our game systems, including the Saturn — were gone. All the cabinets were left open… like the scene out of POLTERGEIST! I scrambled onto a chair to check if the thieves found World Heroes Perfect or not. It was the only game I kept in a special separate section. Remarkably, there the game sat, on the middle shelf, atop a small red dictionary. All our games were stolen. Except for one. The lone consolation prize in what was a horrific day. I realized then and there, it had to be fate. The tables turned, and now it was *me* who wanted the Saturn most of all, rather than my brother. If this terrible experience taught me anything, besides the fact that being robbed sucks the big one, it was that nothing could get in the way between me and my mission of at long last playing World Heroes Perfect. Damnit, by hook or crook, pardon the pun, I was going to play the bloody game.

All I could do was scan over the manual 50 times
All I could do was scan over the manual 50 times

FuncoLand didn’t get in another Saturn until May 1999. When they did, I jumped on it. My bro once again sent the system to NCSX for modification. OK… round 2, here we go!

Meanwhile, I browsed through the game’s color manual several (dozen) times in anticipation. Hey, I waited this long. A few more weeks won’t hurt…

A PERFECT DAY

Now that's what I call JUSTICE [Sword... -Ed.]
Now that’s what I call JUSTICE [Sword… -Ed.]
On a calm May day in 1999, after the UPS man dropped off our modded Saturn on our porch, all systems were go. Damn I’ll never forget the excitement rushing through my body as the Saturn logo fired up for the very first time. Not to mention those cheesy but memorable ADK tunes blaring in my living room, like it was 1993 all over again! The long wait was at last over. Vindication was finally mine.

Later that summer I turned my eyes to another childhood favorite
Soon, another childhood favorite came calling

Later that summer I frantically searched online for a copy of Fighter’s History Dynamite. I loved Fighter’s History (arcade, SNES) back in the day, so when I discovered the ‘sequel’ had hit the Sega Saturn, I was all over that like a fat boy on cake. Like Perfect, it proved hard to find but I searched high and low, determined to track down a copy.

It was known as Karnov's Revenge in the arcades
It was known as Karnov’s Revenge in the arcades
Enter GameWorld.com
Enter GameWorld.com to the rescue

Note: The text in that picture was originally written in May of 2008. Today, May 11, 2016, it’s close to 17 (!) years now.

Here's the card Game-World sent me with the game
Here’s the card GameWorld sent me with the game

It took a while to finally arrive, but arrive in fashion it did. Tearing the envelope open, a card fell out… I made THEIR day? More like they had made mine!

And their business card. R.I.P. GameWorld
And their business card. R.I.P. GameWorld

GameWorld was a small chain of Texas-based game stores. I’m pretty sure they’re long defunct by now. I ran into a few gamers online over the years who worked for them and had some pretty interesting tales too…

It's the body of the tiger. That's the song right?
It’s the body of the tiger. That’s how the song goes, no?

I still remember the moment vividly when the game arrived. It was an early summer afternoon, 4th of July, 1999, ironically exactly two years on the dot since the Saturn port’s release (4th of July, 1997). At around 1 the UPS man knocked on my door. I popped the game in my Saturn and nearly cried tears of joy as adrenaline overtook my every being. I now owned two Saturn games and not just any two, but two dear childhood favorites whose sequels I had yet to play. Almost too good to be true, and for me, a slice of gaming heaven. Would you believe that for the next two years, I lived off just World Heroes Perfect and Fighter’s History Dynamite? True story. That either makes me nuts or just plain freakin’ sad. Probably both.

The game arrived at my doorstep exactly two years later
The game arrived at my doorstep exactly two years later
Hmm, 4th of July, Dynamite, oh those silly Data East boys
4th of July, Dynamite. Oh those silly Data East boys

An appropriate release date in a pretty obvious way, but also a surprising one in another way. It’s fitting for a game with DYNAMITE to be released on the 4th of July. And how ironic that it arrived on the 4th of July — two years after its release. It’s scary how these unplanned things happen. [Tell me and the wifey about it! -Ed.]. The surprising thing about this release though is that the arcade came out in early-mid ’94, so why even bother porting over such an “old” game by 4th of July, 1997? And it’s not like this game lit up the arcade scene back in 1994! It remains something of a mystery. But hey, I surely wasn’t complaining! I was just happy to own both World Heroes Perfect and Fighter’s History Dynamite. Two games from two of my most beloved series growing up… all mine to play at any time I want… it was almost too good to be true!

I love its simple mid '90s fighting game spirit
I love its simple mid ’90s fighting game spirit
And who could ever forget Ray's infamous BAKE POTATO?!
And who could forget Ray’s infamous BAKED POTATO?!
It was good to see Karnov, an old childhood friend, once again
Good to see Karnov, an old childhood friend, once again

WELCOME TO PLANET SEGA SATURN

I want Karnov at my next summer BBQ
I want Karnov at my next summer BBQ

My gaming life, so to speak, all changed in January 2001. For two years, I lived off Perfect and Dynamite. I probably played one or the other once a week or so. I never really thought of expanding my Saturn horizons, as odd as that may seem. I was, pardon the pun, perfectly content with World Heroes Perfect and Fighter’s History Dynamite. I’m set for life, right?

Looking back, it's crazy to think I lived off just two games
Looking back, it’s crazy how I lived off just two games

That all changed one night in January of 2001.

At my buddy’s house to study for a HUGE physics exam, I saw a Saturn lying on the ground. I nearly fell over. Remember, the PlayStation was all the rage back then, and by 2001 the Saturn was a long, LONG afterthought.

“Hey — you’re the first person I know who has one too,”
I said, pointing to his Saturn. I tried to sound as casual as I could about it. After all, it wasn’t too cool to be pro-Saturn in the year 2001. Still, I probably didn’t do a very good job of that, as it WAS quite cool to see someone else owning a Saturn in the year 2001.

“Oh yeah? I haven’t touched the thing in years.”

The hardcore addiction begins...
The hardcore addiction begins…

What’s this? I noticed Street Fighter Alpha 2 and Bust-A-Move 2 beside the system, both games looking pretty in their big bulky cases… seeing them triggered something inside of me that I thought was long dead. Suddenly, I felt very excited about games again… beyond just the two fighting games I had at that point.

“I still play my Saturn,”
I managed to bravely admit. “Though it’s been a while.” It was true. It had been months since I played Perfect or Dynamite. Love them as I did, two years is a long time to play JUST two games.

“If you want some of the games, go ahead. Take some. It’s cool.”

I nearly fell over. “I can’t do that, man.”

“No, go for it. Really. I don’t play them anymore. Plus I never even bought any of them to begin with.”

“I can’t, really, but thanks…”

“You sure?”

“… I’ll just take these two,” I said quickly as the moment overtook me. I lured Street Fighter Alpha 2 and Bust-A-Move 2 out of the pile. I remember seeing BUG! but not giving a damn whatsoever about it. I just wanted some Street Fighter and BAM 2 action!

The rest of the study session I found it difficult to focus on atoms or Murphy’s Law, and who could blame me. The moment of truth arrived when I came home and fired the games up, one by one. I cheered for every successful Dragon Punch, and I cringed for every “NO! I AIMED THE FREAKIN’ BUBBLE THERE, NOT THERE!” moment.

It truly was like having the arcade game in your living room
It was like having the arcade game in your living room

Street Fighter Alpha 2 in particular blew me away. It played so smoothly and had just the right amount of style and substance. Playing Bust-A-Move 2 was like being back at an arcade hall, plopping a quarter into a simple but delightful puzzler to tide me over until the lines for the latest fighting game died down a bit… ahh, good times.

It was an unbelievable arcade-like experience I had that fine evening. It made me think about what other gems this system has to offer…

As they say, the rest is history.

FUNCOLAND STRIKES AGAIN, NOT BACK

A relic of the past now...
A relic of the past now…

Back in the mid ’90s there used to be a chain of stores across the land known as FuncoLand. It sold mostly used games. You could play games there, and many systems were featured. You could trade in games. Many gamers have varying opinions and memories of FuncoLand, but it’s mostly always been pretty good to me, so I can’t complain too much. My theory was simple: Bring $20, browse for 10 minutes to see if there’s anything worth grabbing, and then get the hell out.

Love me some Galactic Attack
Love me some Galactic Attack

The very next month, February 2001, I was driving to Uncle Jimmy’s house to visit him and my cousin David when I saw FuncoLand’s big bright, colorful, neon sign calling out to me in the dark of the night. I remember being awed by their large luminous sign and being ecstatic about what Sega Saturn gems I might find inside. There I saw World Series Baseball II for just $3.99 and Galactic Attack for $4.99, both disc only. I didn’t hesitate to pluck both of them.

Ranked #86 on EGM's Top 100 Games list November 1997
Ranked #86 on EGM’s Top 100 Games list November ’97

There was also Quake and Fighters Megamix for $9.99 each but I passed (disc only). The clerk gave me a bewildered look when he saw me bringing World Series Baseball II and Galactic Attack to the counter.

“You still playing the Saturn?”

“No… kinda just starting in a way,” I said with a little grin.

He looked at me like I was crazy. And maybe I was… but damnit, if I was crazy, I was gonna have a good time.

Galactic Attack didn't disappoint. Something pure about SHMUPS...
There’s something pure about SHMUPS

Now I had six games in my collection. My library tripled in two short weeks prior to the two years I owned only Perfect and Dynamite! I couldn’t wait to try out Galactic Attack and World Series Baseball II. The sense of thrill of adding more quality titles to the ole collection became an addiction in every respect of the word.

Leaving my newly acquired Saturn games in my glove compartment, I made my way to my uncle’s house. They had to make a run at the grocery store. Told me I could join them or stay back and surf the net.

I stayed back. On that chilly February night of 2001, I searched for info (read: reviews) on my two new Saturn acquisitions. I’ll never forget the moment that evening when I stumbled upon . . .

One of the sites that originally inspired RVGFanatic!
One of the sites that originally inspired RVGFanatic!

My God — hundreds of user reviews! US and Japanese game reviews. The freakin’ works! I was absolutely floored by what they had on offer. I read through all the World Series Baseball II and Galactic Attack reviews until my cousins came back. It thrilled me to read all the good things the reviewers had to say about those two games. Over the years, I frequently referred back to the reviews found on sega-saturn dot com, either before purchasing a game, or just after playing it. Usually it was the latter; reading what others thought of certain games and then comparing that to how I felt was all part of the fun of buying and playing all the Saturn games that I did… and MAN was it a lot of fun.

I’ve definitely read one too many JM Vargas and Dark Falcon reviews! Those guys effin’ rock. Wherever you two are out there in the vastness of cyberspace, I salute y’all. Goes to show you how voice in reviews can go a long way to leaving lasting impressions. Some odd 15 years later, I still remember JM Vargas and Dark Falcon fondly, as well as their friendly ribbing and in-review in-jokes tossed at one another. Good times. You felt as if you knew them. Perhaps the best compliment a writer can ever hope to receive.

My 15 minutes of fame came when I wrote a review for Sega-Saturn.com myself on February 23, 2001. Can you guess which game?

BINGO!
BINGO! How did you guess right?

I was so moved by seeing all the Saturn reviews on the site that I knew I wanted to contribute some of my own. Besides, there was one review of Perfect already up and I felt the guy (fastguy, to be precise) did it wrong. I had to get my viewpoint out there. Looking back, I’m proud to have been a small part of that awesome site. I keep waiting for a successor, but year after year I always find myself disappointed. There may never be another Saturn fansite quite like it.

My second review was for, ah, you guessed it
My second review was for, ah, you guessed it

I also submitted one for Fighter’s History Dynamite the very next day as well (February 24, 2001). Those two reviews that I wrote were actually among the final four or so that was ever published by the site. Seeing my two reviews go up live that Saturday evening, I felt so excited and proud. The reviewing craze was born! Yes, before the days of YouTube, people used to write gaming reviews. Nuts, I know! :P

SO, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO FIRE PRO?

I can ramble on and on about Six Man Scramble
I can ramble on and on about Six Men Scramble

Ah, I’m glad you asked. Funnily enough, I never did buy a copy for my brother. And the reason was he no longer wanted it. His same wrestling e-fed group was now raving about the PlayStation version, Fire Pro G. My bro focused on that instead since he was always a PlayStation guy at heart. Go figure!

I later bought Scramble anyway. Because, reasons
I later bought Scramble anyway. Because, reasons

We played the shit outta Fire Pro G. I loved it as much as he did. AWESOME game. But I owe a lot to Six Men Scramble. Were it not for this game, I probably never would have pursued a Saturn, and I probably would have lost touch with video gaming altogether. Seriously. Yet because of this one game, I went on to have six WONDERFUL years with the Saturn. In 2003 I went ahead and bought a copy for myself. It only felt right.

This was the other hot Saturn import in 1998
This was the other hot Saturn import in 1998

In late ’98 X-Men vs. Street Fighter was ALL the rage. I remember it being talked about in hushed tones. There were really two Saturn imports making a ton of noise online at that time. This and…

As if you had to ask!
As if you had to ask!
Appropriately joined at the hip. Damn good times
Appropriately joined at the hip. Damn good times

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The WORLD is always in need of some HEROES
The WORLD is always in need of some HEROES

I have not played Saturn World Heroes Perfect or Fighter’s History Dynamite for a good number of years now. Not because I don’t want to, but because there’s still so much SNES goodness I want to experience. But, I know there will come a day where that itch will come calling. And I shall answer and scratch. From two Saturn games owned, to eventually, around 350, I have had quite the experience with the Sega Saturn. It’s my second favorite system of all time, and it’s the reason why I’m here now, probably.

The halcyon days... from a bygone era...
The halcyon days… from a bygone era…

A part of me still can’t believe this twist of fate: I started out loving World Heroes and Fighter’s History in the arcade and later the SNES, but never got to play the last game in each series until 1999 with the Saturn. That was around the same time my brother and I donated our SNES to our cousin, David. Many years later, 2006 to be precise, I got back into the SNES, bought copies of the originals, and to this day still love playing any one of them. It feels like I’ve come full circle with this hobby in a way.

With the Sega Saturn turning 21 here in the States today, as FOB once sang, thanks for the memories. While I’ll never view the Saturn with quite the same awe as I did those six years from 1999-2005, it’ll always have a special spot in my gaming heart. Long live the Sega Saturn!

WWF Memories

What The World Is Watching
Warning: wrestling nostalgia overload ahead

I love and will always love wrestling. Growing up, I was a huge WWF fan. A mark, “if you wheel” (R.I.P. “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes). With WrestleMania right around the corner, I find myself reminiscing fondly about my WrestleMania weekend experience this time last year (2015). It also made me think of my fandom origins and what wrestling has meant to me growing up.

IT BEGAN ONE SATURDAY NIGHT IN ’87

THE MEGA POWERS!
The infamous Handshake Heard Round The World

My fandom began in 1987 when one night my uncle flipped on Saturday Night’s Main Event. I witnessed the awesome pairing of the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, better known as The Mega Powers. Macho Man’s raspy, iconic voice of “Ooh yea dig it!” combined with the Hulkster’s classic trademark saying of “Eat your vitamins, train hard and say your prayers” won me over. The two colorful characters were bigger than life. And in that moment they made me, an impressionable four year old boy, believe in a greater force and a higher power, brutha.

From that point on, I was hooked for life. It was not long before my uncle took me to the local video store so we could rent the latest wrestling extravaganzas on VHS. My brother got into it as well, and for the three of us, wrestling quickly became a religion.

Ah, them vintage VHS covers
The cover of Halloween Havoc ’89 haunts me to this day

My uncle and I rented all our wrestling tapes from Video Mart. A mom and pop shop, Video Mart had a solid wrestling selection right next to the horror section. It was a blast gawking at the various covers. The one that sticks out in my mind even to this day is Halloween Havoc ’89. It looked more like a horror movie. I felt the only thing missing from Halloween Havoc ’89 was a white William Shatner mask. The Legion of Doom posing with that sinister pumpkin grinning in the background is firmly embedded in my soul.

BECOMING A CULTURAL PHENOMENON

Ah, my childhood *sniff*
Ah, my childhood *sniff*

Wrestling exploded beyond just television. You also had them in the form of toys. What ’80s child doesn’t remember M.U.S.C.L.E.?

Hasbro's WWF lineup was the best
Fathering 101: when in doubt, bribe

But the real prize was Hasbro’s first WWF run. In the summer of 1990, my mom and brother went to Paris for vacation, leaving me and my old man to fend for ourselves. There are three things that resulted from that which I fondly recall:

  1. I missed them dearly, especially my mom
  2. I ate a lot of McDonald’s (my mom did all the cooking)
  3. It was the summer that I discovered Hasbro’s WWF lineup. I never looked back
They don't make 'em like they used to
They don’t make ‘em like they used to

When my brother got back from Paris, he and I built our collection together slowly but surely. There were 12 figures in the original 1990 lineup. We had all of them but one…

My white whale, Jake "The Snake" Roberts
My white whale, Jake “The Snake” Roberts

One Saturday night, in a most shocking turn of events, my mom told me and my brother that she was taking us to Toys R Us to find the last action figure we needed — in her words – “the wrestler with the snake.” My mom was frugal but there was definitely magic in the air that night. Thanks mom.

In addition to their toys, the WWF even made trading cards, which my bro and I quickly began collecting.

Virgil signed my card, and he didn't charge me $50!
Virgil signed my card, and he didn’t charge me $50!

Google “Lonely Virgil” for a laugh.

One day in late ’92 there was a sign at our local mall advertising an upcoming special appearance by WWF superstar Virgil. My uncle, brother and I were stoked. This was our chance to meet our first wrestler up close and personal. I wanted to ask Virgil one question: “Is wrestling fake?” I replayed the question in my head for days. But by the time I came face to face with Virgil and saw his bulging muscles, my mind went completely blank! Even though Virgil was a lower tier wrestler, he was larger than life and I found myself in sheer awe of the guy. Such is the magic of wrestling!

The WWF found more ways to penetrate the consciousness of the public in the early ’90s.

Damn best bar in town!
Best damn ice cream bar in town! #CMPunk
I was a subscriber in 1994...
I was a subscriber in 1994…
One of my most crushing childhood disappointments
An Andre-sized disappointment
Redemption never tasted so sweet
Redemption never tasted so sweet

THE BEST WRESTLING WEEKEND OF MY LIFE

My childhood best friend Nelson and I grew up huge WWF fanatics. We always promised each other that one day, somehow, we would attend a WrestleMania together. Last year, we finally made good on a 20+ year childhood vow. We made the trip over and it turned out to be three days of wrestling nirvana. Join me for a look back.

NXT is WWE's developmental brand
Jeez, I can’t believe it’s already been one year. Wow

NXT is WWE’s “developmental” brand.

It was great seeing Hideo Itami and "the Demon" Finn Balor in person
Hideo Itami and “the Demon” Finn Balor killed it
Charlotte and Sasha had a match at midnight that stole the show
Charlotte and Sasha had a match at midnight that stole the show
The event ended at 1 in the morning!
The event ended at 1 in the morning!

I’ll never forget being there. The energy in that building was electric. We chanted all night long, and the wrestling was SUPERB. WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross came out to sit at ringside and received a rousing ovation. There was a real “ECW vibe” to the whole event, and when it finally ended at 1 AM, five thousand crazed wrestling fanatics filled the streets of downtown San Jose. It was quite the scene! WrestleMania was now just two days away and you could feel this incredible buzz. Everyone was drunk on wrestling. It’s corny but I get the feels just thinking back on it.

Speaking of good ole JR, the very next morning (a mere 10 hours later) it was off to…

"BAH GAWD!"
“BAH GAWD!”

Jim Ross was a long time commentator of the WWE and often considered by many as pro wrestling’s best commentator of all time (with all due respect to the late great Gordon Solie). JR has accumulated a great deal of epic wrestling tales over the years, and I wasn’t about to miss out on JR Story Time.

"Oh hey Vince..."
“Oh hey Vince…”

JR opened his bit with an amusing mock phone call. It went something like this…

“Oh hey Vince. Hey listen, I’m kind of busy right now. I’ve got um, a few folks here (note: there were 800 of us, so that line drew a good laugh). I’m running a show here bah Gawd, but um, you wouldn’t know that would you? Oh, as it pertains to tomorrow night’s main event between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, I’m telling ya, GO WITH BROCK.”

About 90% of the room popped, while the other 10% (the Roman fanboys) quietly stewed.

All in all, a good time was had by all. JR told stories around the campfire, and then there was a Q&A session. Samoa Joe also made a special guest appearance. It was fun. Next, it was off to…

My favorite, the Macho Man Randy Savage, was getting inducted
About time my favorite, Macho Man, got in!

I enjoyed the Hall of Fame, but it was definitely my least favorite of the four events that weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some WWE Hall of Fame. The stories are what make it great. The speeches in 2015 left something to be desired, especially compared to other years. It’d be a different story if Randy Savage were still alive and able to speak, but it was not meant to be.

Finally, it was the moment Nelson and I had been waiting 20+ years for…

If you're a wrestling fan, you gotta go at least once
If you’re a wrestling fan, you gotta go at least once
We had a decent enough view
We had a decent enough view
Things started off hot with a  nutty ladder match
Things started off hot with a nutty ladder match
Mark out moment, HE'S FINALLY HERE!
Mark out moment, HE’S FINALLY HERE!
"JUDGMENT DAY... IT'S TIME TO PLAY THE GAME"
“JUDGMENT DAY… IT’S TIME TO PLAY THE GAME”
Triple H always had badass Wrestlemania entrances
Triple H always had badass WrestleMania entrances
But this one by far took the cake
But this one by far took the cake
Electric atmosphere. You had to be there!
The Icon vs. The Game. Atmosphere was off the charts
HOLY $#*%!
HOLY $#*%!
Time stood still for a moment. DX vs. nWo!
Time stood still for a moment. DX vs. nWo!
The Rock and Ronda electrified
The Rock and Ronda electrified 77,000+ fans
Love the staggering scarecrows. Shame it was still light outside, though
Love the staggering scarecrows. Shame it was still light outside, though
Even a jaded fan has to admit this was pretty cool
Even a jaded fan had to admit this spot was pretty cool
The Undertaker kneelng as dusk fell was eerily awesome
Undertaker kneeling as dusk fell was eerily awesome
The main event had a legit big fight feel
The main event had a legit big fight feel
Seth Rollins ca$hed in his Money in the Bank to steal the Championship
Seth Rollins ca$hed in his Money in the Bank!
Nelson and I headed back to his car under the falling of fireworks
It was a great WrestleMania. And an epic weekend

Nelson and I left the show giddy like we were two kids on Christmas Eve. We rode the high of the night as we walked back to his car, with fireworks falling all around us. BEST.RASSLIN.WEEKEND.EVER.

It was great to meet fans from all over the globe that weekend. Despite being total strangers, everyone was connected through the memories we share of the business. It’s awesome having that shared connection and laugh with strangers as though you’ve known them your whole life. That’s what WrestleMania weekend is all about: fans worldwide coming together for one epic party. Wrestling has a way of bringing out the kid in you, and WrestleMania weekend is as big as it gets. Words don’t do it justice. It’s something every wrestling fan should experience at least once in their life.

And now, here’s a look at my top 10 favorite wrestlers.

10. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase

Virgil, I am not paying you $50 for a card you signed for me back in 1992!
Virgil, I am not paying you $50 for a card you signed for me back in 1992!

With his custom built expensive Million Dollar Championship title belt, Ted DiBiase was one of the very best and most consistent bad guys of late ’80s and early ’90s WWF. The man with the evil laugh never put on a single bad match. You loved to boo him but you also loved watching DiBiase wrestle. After all, few did it better than the Million Dollar Man.

9. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

Rest In Peace, Hot Rod
Rest In Peace, Hot Rod

The Hot Rod was one of the best mic men in the business. He was magic on the mic. Although his in-ring work wasn’t particularly great, he always lit up a room with his endless charisma and shenanigans. Completely unpredictable and always entertaining, the Hot Rod will be fondly remembered as one of the all-time legends. One of the few wrestlers in the 1980s to truly cross over into the mainstream, he was the leading man in the 1988 cult favorite, John Carpenter’s THEY LIVE. “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubble gum” goes down in cinema history as one of the best lines ever. Sadly, Piper passed in the late summer of 2015. He is missed, but his legacy lives on forever.

8. Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Seeing him on old school Raw 2014 gave me the chills
Seeing him on old school Raw 2014 gave me chills

There was nothing Jake did that did NOT have a measure of meaning. No movement, no gesture, no move. Everything he did in and out of the ring served a purpose. He was one of the best psychologists that the wrestling business has ever seen. Who could ever forget his slithery python, Damien, or his infamous finishing move, the DDT? Jake blazed a trail and he did it like no one else did. When he returned to Raw for one night in 2014, it was just like Jake: EPIC.

7. “The Bad Guy” Razor Ramon

The Razor's Edge = coolest finisher of the '90s
The Razor’s Edge = coolest finisher of the ’90s

“A-yo, chico.” A cock of the head. A flick of the toothpick. And with that, the Bad Guy stole our hearts. The Man Oozin’ with Machismo, Razor burst on to the WWF scene in 1992. He was booed at first, but inevitably, fans all over the world fell in love with the Bad Guy. With his devastating Razor’s Edge finisher, Razor went on to hold the Intercontinental title four times. By far his most memorable moment in the WWF took place at WrestleMania X where Razor and Shawn Michaels stole the show in a groundbreaking Ladder Match for the undisputed, unified IC title. Razor is also widely remembered as the key spark plug that jump-started the infamous nWo faction in WCW that launched the industry altering Monday Night War.

6. Mr. Perfect AKA Curt Hennig

"I am what I say I am, absolutely perfect"
“I am what I say I am — absolutely perfect”

From his perfect entrance theme to his perfect look, Mr. Perfect was a world class athlete and entertainer. Widely regarded as one of the best Intercontinental champions of all time, nobody and I mean NOBODY sold bumps like he did. Plus, who could forget those classic sporting vignettes? Tragically, Curt’s life was cut short on February 10, 2003. But his wrestling legacy lives on.

5. “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels

An iconic image etched in WWF history
An iconic image etched in WWF history

Before he became the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels competed in the tag team ranks. But mega superstardom beckoned and the Showstopper answered. One of the greatest performers I’ve ever seen, his legendary dive off the ladder at WrestleMania X remains an iconic image. HBK would go on to rightfully earn the nickname “Mr. WrestleMania.”

4. Bret “The Hitman” Hart

The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be
The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be

Bret Hart came from humble beginnings, starting out in a tag team in the WWF known as the Hart Foundation. After scratching and clawing to the top of that division, Bret broke out and found singles success as he became a prominent holder of the Intercontinental Championship title. But he truly cemented his mark on the business in Saskatoon on October 12, 1992. That’s when Bret Hart defeated the great Ric Flair to earn his first WWF Championship, ushering in a new era. Bret Hart was never the biggest guy or the flashiest guy, but he always put on the best matches. The excellence of execution, indeed.

3. The Ultimate Warrior

As a kid I never knew what he said. It all added to his appeal
There will never be another one quite like him

Intensity personified. The Ultimate Warrior was truly one of a kind. From his war paint to his tassles to his bulging muscles, he looked like a comic book super hero. And for any boy living in the late ’80s, the Ultimate Warrior was truly a comic book hero come to life. Sadly, the Warrior journeyed to parts unknown on April 8, 2014. But his legacy continues to endure, and the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run on for generations to come.

2. “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan

Not down with his recent actions, but as a kid I adored him
He was the man back in the ’80s

Growing up in the late ’80s, few superstars captivated your imagination quite like the Hulkster. With one tear of his shirt, or one classic “hulk up” moment in the ring, arenas all over the universe went bonkers. “Eat your vitamins, train hard and say your prayers” became a mantra for boys all over the globe in the late ’80s. Hulk Hogan was sort of this mythical figure in the world of professional wrestling. Wrestling would not be where it is today were it not for his many contributions. He wasn’t a great worker but few had the presence of the Hulkster. There’s no denying he took the industry to a whole ‘notha level, “BROTHER!”

1. “Macho Man” Randy Savage

LONG LIVE MACHO MADNESS
LONG LIVE THE MACHO MADNESS

“OOOH YEAH! DIG IT!” Often imitated but never duplicated, they broke the mold when they made the Macho Man Randy Savage. He was on another planet. When you factor in both charisma and wrestling ability, there might be none finer than the Macho Man. Always flamboyant and intense, Randy Savage carved one hell of a legacy that extended beyond the squared circle. He became the voice and face of Slim Jim. To this day whenever I’m at the checkout counter of a Target or gas station, I can’t help but think of Macho. Sadly, he passed on May 20, 2011. However, the Macho Madness lives on through the memories and moments etched in the annals of WWF history.

And now, to cap things off, here are some of the most memorable wrestling moments that have left an indelible mark on me

THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE

It was Batman vs. Superman, but done right ;)
It was Batman vs. Superman done right ;)

The date, April the 1st, 1990. The scene, the SkyDome in Toronto. The event, WrestleMania VI. It was the most anticipated main event in wrestling history. The Ultimate Challenge. The aging world champ versus the upcoming superstar in the making. Title for title. It didn’t get any bigger than this.

"The Hulkster has just taken one giant step towards immortality!"
“The Hulkster has just taken one giant step toward immortality!”

The match lived up to the hype. I rewinded my tape and wore it out as a kid. I must have watched this match 50 times. It went back and forth with lots of false finishes that kept you on the edge of your seat. Finally, when the smoke cleared, a new king emerged and the torch was passed. Epic.

RETIREMENT AND REDEMPTION

Who could forget their classic career ending match at Wrestlemania VII?
One of my favorite WrestleMania matches of all time

The Macho Man sabotaged the Ultimate Warrior, costing him his WWF Championship at the 1991 Royal Rumble. This led to a feud for the ages that culminated in a showdown at WrestleMania VII. Not only that but it was a career ending match, raising the stakes even higher.

Speaking of high stakes, Bobby the Brain Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon had a great exchange during this match:

Heenan: Everything is on the line. Maybe the humanoids don’t understand it. EVERYTHING IS ON THE LINE. Everything they’ve worked for their whole career… the prestige, the wealth, the fortune, the fame. It’s all over here for one of them!

Monsoon: For the guy who loses, when he wakes up tomorrow morning, WHAT’S HE GONNA DO?!

Heenan: HE’S GONNA BE JUST ANOTHER HAM AND EGGER!!

Classic.

Both are now shaking the ropes and dropping elbows in Heaven
I nearly broke my tape rewinding this!

The 20 minute match featured multiple false finishes. Back in 1991 this was unheard of. Especially when the Ultimate Warrior kicked out of FIVE Flying Elbow Drops. Never before had I seen such drama in a match. The Warrior would eventually score the pinfall. However, as great as this match was, what happened after made it one for the history books. After the Warrior left the ring, Macho Man’s manager, Sensational Sherri, turned on Savage with a flurry of vicious kicks. The camera then panned to Elizabeth, Macho Man’s long time partner on and off camera. Her face a teary mess. The crowd started to rise. Elizabeth, no longer able to take it, then jumped the guard rail. She ran to the ring and flung Sherri out to the floor.

One of wrestling's most emotional, redemptive moments
Certain moments like this transcend wrestling itself

A groggy Randy Savage climbed to his feet. He spotted Elizabeth. It was as if he just seen a ghost. The crowd cheered louder as Elizabeth, tears streaking down her face, stood there waiting for Savage to respond. Savage finally embraced her as the humanoids erupted. Gorilla Monsoon’s epic commentary “WHAT A WOMAN, AND WHAT A MAN!” punctuated the moment, as the camera zoomed in to show grown adults crying in the audience. It was one of wrestling’s most redemptive moments: his career “ended” but the rest of his life with his love was just beginning. Storytelling at its best.

THE ULTIMATE RETURN

The Hoosier Dome, 1992. Wrestlemania VIII
“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”

By 1992, Hulkamania was starting to wane. The ’80s were long over by now, and the Hulkster was looking more and more obsolete as the years and miles added up. In fact, if you look closely you can see signs in the audience that were pro-Sid (who was supposedly the villain going into the match). Vince McMahon pushed this main event as Hulk Hogan’s “final stand.” The match was what it was. But it was the aftermath that makes it one of my favorite wrestling memories. After the match ended in a weird anticlimactic DQ, Papa Shango hit the ring. This was highly bizarre as Papa Shango wasn’t even in the Hogan-Sid program at any point prior, but clearly the two bad guys were looking to finish off Hulkamania.

Bless Godfather's heart, but story goes he missed his run-in cue, resulting in the botched finish
“Oh crap, I missed my cue!”

God bless the Godfather but the story goes he missed his run-in cue. This resulted in an awkward botched DQ finish. As Psycho Sid went to grab a steel chair to end Hulkamania, a familiar entrance theme roared throughout the arena.

I never marked out so hard in my life before
The Hoosier Dome exploded. Pandemonium personified!

It took a few seconds for the fans to register it, as the Warrior had been out of the WWF for some time. There was no internet back then and no rumors of the Warrior coming back at all. It was the last thing on anybody’s mind. But once he came running down the aisle at 200 miles per hour, the fans lost it as did I. It was nuts.

This shot gives me chills. Wrestling ain't what it used to be
Gives me chills. Wrestling ain’t what it used to be

The hair was shorter. The body was less muscular. But yes indeed, it was the Ultimate Warrior. Just two short years prior, Warrior and Hogan headlined WrestleMania in one of the biggest matches of all time. Two years later, ironically, Warrior returned to save the Hulkster. And the fans went absolutely bonkers.

Two of the very best in the ring for the last time together (Halloween Havoc 1998 never happened)
Two childhood icons. It didn’t get any bigger

THE KICK HEARD ROUND THE WORLD

The best bad guy turn of all time
The best heel (bad guy) turn of all time

The Rockers was one of the most popular tag teams in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But as time went on it was evident the breakout star of the team was Shawn Michaels. Sometimes, you just gotta kick dead weight to the curb. Literally.

It was the playground chatter for at least a week!
It was the playground chatter for at least a week!

THE MONDAY NIGHT WAR

The last great golden age of professional wrestling
The last great golden age of professional wrestling

As hot as wrestling and the WWF became in the late ’80s, rising to prominence seemingly overnight, the industry hit one of its lowest points in the mid ’90s. By then wrestling companies were struggling with a stale product that relied on old gimmicks past its heyday. But as wrestling fans know, the late ’90s saw yet another boom. With WCW going live every Monday night opposite WWF’s Monday Night Raw, viewers suddenly had a choice. This began the Monday Night War. But it wasn’t until the summer of 1996 that things really heated up. That’s when the New World Order faction was born and all-time good guy Hulk Hogan went DARK.

Wrestling then exploded into mainstream popularity with stand out stars such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, D-Generation X, Goldberg and the nWo. Monday nights became a constant fun-filled two hours of switching back and forth. Then all day Tuesday you and your friends talked about it at lunch and speculated about what might happen next Monday night. It was a great time!

The war officially ended 15 years ago yesterday. On March 26, 2001, the WWF bought out WCW. And ever since then, wrestling has not been the same.

GETTING TO THE “HART” OF THE MATTER

Screwed. 12 years later, sanctified
Screwed. 12 years later, sanctified

Wrestling is at its best when real life elements seep in. Look no further than the whole Bret Hart Shawn Michaels Vince McMahon Montreal Screwjob incident. Bret was out of the WWF family for over 12 long years. Finally, on the first episode of Monday Night Raw in 2010, Bret came home. He and Shawn hashed it out in front of a national audience on live TV. What a way to kick off the new decade! It felt like watching two uncles, once seemingly inseparable, burying the hatchet at a family reunion. The moment gave me goosebumps. It was good to see Bret move on once and for all.

RESURRECTION OF JAKE “THE SNAKE” ROBERTS AND SCOTT HALL

Welcome home, Jake
Home sweet home

For a long time if you had asked any wrestling fan which former star was most likely to die next, number one on the list would be Jake Roberts. And second, Scott Hall. Both men had their addictions, and their fall from grace was ugly. Former WCW World Heavyweight Champion turned yoga fitness guru, Diamond Dallas Page, reached out to Jake in 2012. Using DDPYoga and taking responsibility for his own actions, Jake managed to turn his life around. He lost weight but he shed more than just that. He DDT’ed his demons. He got his life right and in 2014 was inducted into the Hall of Fame. It was crazy seeing him up there. Like seeing a ghost or a distant wayward uncle. His story of resurrection and redemption still resonates deeply with me to this day. In his own words, “I’m not where I wanna be, but I sure am better than where I was before.” I salute thee, Mr. Roberts. Keep it up!

"Bad times don't last. But bad guys DO"
“Bad times don’t last. BUT BAD GUYS DO!

On that same fateful night, Scott Hall went in the Hall as well. Much like Jake, it was surreal to witness it all. Scott struggled with his drinking demons for years. But DDP took him in and Scott Hall put in the work. He’s an example of how anyone can overcome their hang ups, as long as they’re willing to put the work in.

Amazing what eating right and DDPYoga did for Jake!
Amazing what eating right and DDPYoga did for Jake!
Check out DDPYoga for yourself or a loved one who may need it
DDPYoga is saving lives and sweeping the nation

THE ULTIMATE COMEBACK… AND THE ULTIMATE FAREWELL

Finally, the Warrior is immortalized
Finally, the Warrior is immortalized

Not only did Jake and Scott go in, but later that same night the Ultimate Warrior took his rightful place in the Hall of Fame as well. It was the first time he appeared on WWE TV in any capacity in almost 20 years. He delivered one epic speech. For me it was hands down the greatest feel good night in the history of wrestling. April 5, 2014 was a mark out evening for the ages.

ONE LAST MEMORY
“Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat…”

On Monday night, April 7, 2014, the Ultimate Warrior made his first appearance on RAW in 17+ years. Sadly, it would also be his last. He delivered the speech of a lifetime in the sort of way that only the Ultimate Warrior could. His life would sadly end the following day. But in his soliloquy, he talked about one day every man’s heart beats its final beat and his lungs breathe their final breath. It was a little eerie. Warrior’s passing sent shock waves through the wrestling community. It seemed surreal. Right before he died, he at least made peace with Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan and several others. He went out in a blaze of glory.

Vince and Warrior embrace each other for the very last time
Life’s too short to hold grudges. Forgiveness heals
The Ultimate Warrior's final remarks
His haunting final words the night before he passed

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Thanks for the memories, WWF
“The immovable object meets the irresistible force”

Professional wrestling will always hold a soft spot in my heart. I grew up on it. I went through Hulkamania. And the Madness. I witnessed the rise of the industry in the late ’80s. I followed it through the mid ’90s when it hit rock bottom. I watched as it EXPLODED in the late ’90s Attitude Era. And to this day I keep up with the product. Every once in a while they’ll do something to make me feel like a little 10 year old kid again. Those magical moments that make you jump out of your chair with mouth agape and goosebumps popping all over your arms. In some ways I feel like these larger than life athletes were once distant uncles of mine growing up. I could always count on them each weekend (and later Mondays) to entertain me for an hour or two. Wrestling has always given me great memories, and regardless of where the business heads going forward, I will always be a fan for life.

All About RVGFanatic

Bonjour! Welcome to my humble and awesome little site. *wink* Yes indeed, you’ve hit up RVGFANATIC. I started this site as a means to share my gaming reviews, remembrances and random mad ramblings. The primary focus is on the SNES, my favorite system of all time. I also write about non-SNES retro games when the mood strikes. In addition, you’ll find SNES articles, my ever popular “obscure” Super Famicom reviews, and miscellaneous non-gaming articles. This includes episode recaps of such classic shows as Full House, Home Improvement, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, The Wonder Years and so on. Expect tons of pictures, reminiscing and passion from a recollective retro renegade. I’m very proud of the content I’ve produced over the past 10+ years, and I thank you for joining me on this nostalgic trip down memory lane.

The current banner from 2014-present
RVG’s current banner (2014-present)

Now then, a quick bit about me…

Born in the summer of 1983, I grew up loving games. Weaned on the 8-bit Nintendo, as I grew up, so too did video games. My brother and our friends moved on to the Genesis in ’89, and later the Super Nintendo when it came out in late ’91. I bought a Sega Saturn in 1999 and by 2001 became a huge fan. The honeymoon ran into late 2005. In January 2006 I rediscovered the Super Nintendo and have been rocking with the SNES ever since.

I’ve been posting on various gaming boards since early 2001. I love sharing my impressions of obscure games as well as miscellaneous life stories. Whether I’m rambling on about the Super Nintendo, the Sega Saturn or something else, three words best sum up RVGFanatic:

RELIVE | REMEMBER | REPLAY

Enjoy the site!
-Steve

PS- If you would like to email me or send a PayPal donation:

RetroGamer7 at yahoo dot com

MY REVIEW SYSTEM AND PHILOSOPHY

You're too kind, Yoshi [Yeah, WAY too kind -Ed.]
You’re too kind, Yoshi! [Yeah, WAY too kind… -Ed.]
I absolutely love EGM’s old format: if a game averaged a score of 8 then it received the Silver Award. 9 average earned the Gold and straight 10s would earn the rare Platinum Award.

I’m using the same format, except this is a one man operation rather than four (or five in some cases). Also, I’m adding the bronze award for any game that scores a 7.5 rating.

I rate games 1-10, with .5 increments.

Like EGM, a 6/10 score is NOT a 60% grade, or a D. 6/10 isn’t a bad score, per se. It’s just a slightly above average game — one that only big fans of the genre are likely to somewhat enjoy.

  • 1 - DAFUQ
  • 2 – Horrible
  • 3 – Really bad
  • 4 – Below average
  • 5 – Ho-hum, average, mediocre
  • 6 – Somewhat decent, fair to middling
  • 7 – Certainly flawed but solid and worthy

faqaward

7.5 Bronze Award — This game is flawed but does enough good things to be recognized with a single trophy. Not everyone is going to like it, but there’s something about this game that made me sit up and go, “Hey, this is pretty good.” The difference between a 7.0 and a 7.5 game? 7.5 games are titles you may have overlooked that I feel are worth a shot and thus, they receive the Bronze Award for that little bit of added recognition.

faqaward18.0 Silver Award — This game is not an exceptional example of its genre, but it’s fairly darn good in its own right. There is a fine line between a 7.5 and an 8.0 game. The 8.0 game is still flawed, but I consider these games to be “good” rather than “pretty good.” They may not be the cornerstones of the SNES library, but any collection would be lucky to have these titles to round things out.

faqaward28.5 Double Silver Award — This game isn’t just “pretty good.” It isn’t simply just “good.” It’s “very good.” However, there are enough blemishes to keep it from that magical 9+ territory. 8.5 games can be seen as unsung titles that fall just short of being a bonafide classic. Nonetheless, they’re highly respectable and if you like the genre, odds are you will like these games.

faqaward39.0 Gold Award — Now we’re talking! Any game that earns a 9.0 can be considered great and an exceptional example of its genre. They have a few small flaws that prevent them from entering that 9.5+ upper echelon of SNES landmark titles, but for the most part, these are legit classics more that deserve to be part of any SNES library.

faqaward49.5 Double Gold Award —  These epic games are near perfect examples of their genre. While not quite perfect — they have a flaw here and there — 9.5 games are bonafide SNES classics. These are some of the best games in the pantheon of SNES greats, and many if not all of these titles would make any top 20 list.

faqaward510 Platinum Award — Only awarded to a scant few, any game that earns a 10 is virtually flawless. These games are in a special class of their own and can be considered Mount Rushmore worthy material. These are the very best games available on the SNES and should be in any Super Nintendo collection. In my opinion there are only a select handful of titles worthy of this ultimate stamp of approval. As time goes on you’ll see which SNES games I deem to be the very best among their peers. If there was a Super Nintendo Hall of Fame, these games would not only be first ballot Hall of Famers, but they would deserve their own damn wing.

I ALSO GRADE THESE CATEGORIES:

  • Graphics – How good the game looks, in relation to the time period the game was released and the genre of the game.
  • Sound - Quality of the game’s sound effects and music.
  • Gameplay – How well the game plays, in relation to the time it was released and its genre.
  • Longevity - Since RPGs generally lack in “replay value” I’m doing “longevity” instead — how long the game lasts me the first time, how often will I replay it, and is it a game I can see myself playing a year or 2, 5, even 10 years from now? It’s a combination of all those. To get a 10 in this category, all three points must be met.

Please take note of the I’s in the longevity category. I can’t speak on anyone’s behalf but my own. These scores (longevity and everything else) are my personal opinion — nothing more nothing less. Also note, longevity is the only rating which I base upon my feelings today. Graphics, sound and gameplay relate strictly to the time of the game’s release.

CRITERIA FOR THE FINAL SCORE

The overall score is NOT an average of the four scoring areas, but of course they factor in, with gameplay being the most vital. Simply put, the overall score is how much I like (or dislike) the game. Three other keys:

  • Year in which game was released

I’ll be more lenient if the game came out early. After all, it’s unfair to say Power Moves (January 1993) is not up to par with Killer Instinct (August 1995). I rate each game based on its peers upon release.

  • The genre itself

I have different expectations for each genre based on what I think is the best example of that genre on the Super Nintendo.

  • My own personal bias

I try to be as objective as I can, but my own bias comes into play when deciding the overall score. Gameplay is still the ruling factor, but I may bump a game up by .5 for various reasons.

In general, I’m a pretty easy grader. As long as the game is competent, enjoyable, and made me say, “Hey, that was pretty dope” – I’ll probably give it the Bronze Award at the very least. I don’t want to be GameFan-easy, though! However, I’m not Super Play-hard, either.

Finally, it should be noted, however obvious this may be, but all these ratings are strictly my opinion and I don’t expect everyone to agree with a game’s score all the time. Unlike a professional magazine that acts as though its score is the so-called definite score of a game, these ratings I have are merely that of my opinion and for, as the kids may say… kicks.

 

Now to the Q&A:

  • How did this site come about?

I’ve always had a deep passion for sharing my thoughts on (obscure) games and life with people. I knew very little about websites so the thought of having one simply never crossed my mind. From early 2001 to late 2006, I was content making topics on various gaming boards.

Back in my Saturn heyday I had plans for a gigantic Saturn topic, a place where I’d post all my reviews and memories. I even had the title: “MEGA SEGA Saturn Thread.” But by 2005 I burned out and the topic never happened.

In early 2006 I rediscovered the Super Nintendo and on that very first day I had plans to eventually create a huge thread consisting of my reviews, thoughts and experiences. What I intended to do with Saturn, but never did.

Around August 2006 I realized the SNES topic was way too ambitious for me at the present time, but I felt a strong itch to write about SNES games in some capacity. This gave birth to my Obscure Super Famicom Reviews thread (September 8, 2006). I figured it wouldn’t run past Halloween, but I kept buying Super Famicom games and the topic ran into December. I began to ponder tackling a site, thanks to the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received from readers of my obscure Super Famicom thread.

  • “It would be a real shame if all this great information disappears into cyberspace obscurity, as well as all the cool pictures… you need your own site!”

And that’s when the light bulb went on, really.

December 2006. The obscure Super Famicom topic was still going, and there were so many more games to review. The topic getting way too big and I knew my peers were right. How great would it be to have the content I’ve worked so hard on be featured on a more compact basis? How cool (and convenient) to have individual links taking the user wherever they wanted, without waiting for hundreds of other game pictures to load?

PeteWhitley’s inspirational reply at DigitPress on December 16, 2006, was the breaking point:

  • “Steven, this is soooo the best thread going on DP right now. In addition to continuing it, you should really compile everything you’ve got into a web page and concurrently add to this thread and that web page. You would have a pretty sweet document of some rarely played games right there, and it would be more permanent than just a thread on the DP boards. Just a thought, but in my opinion you have something way better than a thread going here.”

At that point I went from so-so to determined. In late December I was hard at it. And on Sunday, January 7, 2007 — the site launched. Better late than never!

 

  • Why the move from RVGFanatic.com to RVGFanatic.com/WordPress?

The old Website Builder I used for nearly a decade became obsolete in October 2015. I was crushed because I had built up my original site for nearly a decade and now I could no longer update it. The company I work with then set me up with this WordPress, which launched January 2016. Change was difficult at first but I’ve come to prefer this over the old Website Builder. It’s simply more efficient and admittedly, the old site was a bit archaic. For example, it takes one second to publish an update on WordPress. The Website Builder took a frigging hour! And sometimes it would crash during the publishing process but that’s a whole ‘notha story that never needs to be told :P

Sometimes change is inevitable and for the best. Definitely the case here!

 

  • RVG stands for?

Retro Video Game.

 

  • Where did the name RVGFANATIC stem from?

My buddy JVGFanatic might have suggested it a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I loved it almost instantaneously.

 

  • Did you own a Super Nintendo back in the day?

Yes. My brother bought it in late ’91 or early ’92. It was my favorite system back then and is currently my favorite system today.

 

  • Do you own the games you review?

Yes, I do, including the “obscure” Super Famicom games. I believe in the purity of owning the real physical thing. Having said that, I got no problem with those who simply emulate.

 

  • Is it cool if I copy and paste your content? Your pictures?

Just credit me and provide a link to my site for common courtesy.

 

  • What inspired you to do the text embedded pictures?
Text embedded shots was a staple of the old site
Text embedded shots were a staple of the old site

I have to credit Super Play Magazine. A lot of their pictures had text embedded and I guess on a subconscious level I fell in love with that style of presentation. The first review on my old site that I started this with was Spider-Man: Lethal Foes. Then I did the same gimmick for my second SNES review, An American Tale: Fievel Goes West. Then it just became something I enjoyed doing. However, now that we’re on this new more modern site, I’m retiring from the text embedding business. It just takes too much time and the cool thing about this WordPress is that it allows me to display PNG images. The old site only allowed JPG images, which are lower in quality.

 

  • Do you really write everything yourself?

YES! It’s a one man operation, a one man demolition derby, a one man wrecking crew [Are you quite done yet? -Ed.]

 

  • Wait a second! Who’s this Ed guy then??

[Eh? -Ed.]

 

  • C’MON! Seriously now.

[What? -Ed.]

OK seriously, it’s just a little thing I’ve picked up from reading Super Play. Ed. is short for Editor. It’s actually all me. It’s sad I know but I love the old gaming magazines so much that I try to replicate some of their feel in my work, and from the feedback I’ve received, many enjoy this throwback magazine style.

 

  • You’re really into the obscure stuff — how did that come about?

It really started from my early days of gaming. Back in ’92, when Street Fighter II was scorching the arcade scene, I was more than happy playing World Heroes with my friend. Even back then, I always had an odd fascination and admiration for the little guys. I’ve always enjoyed the oddball games, discovering hidden gems and shining the spotlight on these games with the community.

 

  • How many games do you own?

Way too many. I peaked at 350 or so with Saturn. Today I’m in the 180’s. As for the SNES… 600+ counting the Super Famicom imports.

 

  • No way! Dude! Post pictures!

Check out My SNES Collection for more.

 

  • Sick collection! How much do you think you spent?

Timing is everything in life. I got back into the Super Nintendo on January 17, 2006. That was a different time. A lot of the collectors you see today were not buying SNES games by the truckload back in early 2006. The nostalgia bug bit me earlier than it did many others, so I was able to score some great deals. Most of these games cost me only $5-$10, with even the heavier hitters not going for more than $40. Today? Not so much. Also, I managed to score a lot of the boxes and manuals for dirt cheap because back in 2006, they weren’t in demand much. I really lucked out — timing is everything!

 

  • Some Super Famicom reviews have ratings, others don’t. Why?

I don’t have a set method for the obscure Super Famicom stuff. However, with the SNES reviews I attach numerical values at the end in traditional magazine style.

 

  • Any plans for a top list?

A reader by the name of Pat Chu asked me this back in April 2007. Pat, you read my mind. Yes, I plan to make a top list at some point. I want to play as many games as I can first before releasing such a list, though. Only then could I properly craft one. In the meantime, I released a top 50 obscure Super Famicom list as sort of an appetizer :)

 

  • Do you play anything else other than SNES and Saturn?

Sure but I don’t play much these days other than the SNES. I know I’m missing out on a lot of great games on other platforms, but you can’t play them all. I find focusing on one system and squeezing as much as you can out of it to be very satisfying. It’s what works for me. I always say, do what works best for you.

 

  • What other systems do you own beside SNES and Saturn?

NES, GBA, Dreamcast and Switch. I keep it super simple.

 

  • Where can I email you or send a PayPal donation for your hard work?

RetroGamer7 at yahoo dot com

Hey, I had to try one last time ;)
Enjoy the site! :)
-Steve