Episode 8 – Rocket Pants

Do your eyes get bored when your ears have to do all the work? Do you like podcasts, but wish there was something to look at? Fear not! Our scientists at 1 More Castle Labs™ have created a new thing we like to call “Podcast-o-vision”: It’s a podcast, but on YouTube! Hit the jump for the video and classic versions of the podcast.

Wait… Which Player Am I?

Sometimes people can be lazy. Usually no one is really affected by this laziness because those people typically stay at home, eating chips off the floor, and watch reruns of “Who’s the Boss?” still trying to decide who’s really the boss. But then you have some of those lazy people who produce something from their laziness. It’s especially noticeable in the retro gaming industry when deciding to create a 2 player mode. Playing games with your friends is fun right? Unless 2 player is just a lame rip off of player 1. Let’s look at some lame ass character rip offs shall we?

doubledragon

Double Dragon 2: The Revenge

Released: December 1988

Developed by: Technos Japan

Published by: Technos Japan

Player 1: Billy

Player 2: Jimmy Lee

So I don’t think they ever explained that the Double Dragons were actually twins. Or that they prefer the same hair cut, color, and style. They seem to work out at the same gym, by the same trainer, and have the same stance.

The only thing they seem to differ on is what color clothing to wear. It looks like they are either wearing jump suits or a baby’s onesies. In either matter, Billy likes Blue and Jimmy Lee likes red. You ask if they want sprinkles on their ice cream they both yes. But when it comes to coloring of clothes, not style or design, just color, the Double Dragons differ. Who in their right mind would buy a red pair of jeans anyway? Geez. Totally not fashionable.

guerrillawarfare

Guerrilla War

Released: 1987

Developed by: SNK

Published by: SNK

Player 1: Unnamed rebel commando 1

Player 2: Unnamed rebel commando 2

War is hell. War makes men out of boys. Guerrilla War decides it’s best not to color coordinate with the environment because it’s more fun to stick out like a sore thumb to the enemy than wear the same jacket from Kohl’s as your buddy. Oh the humanity!

Not only are the jackets a different color, apparently the Government has the funds to create blue and yellow helmets as well for your personal selection. The helmets and jackets have to match! You can’t have a yellow jacket with a blue helmet or a blue jacket with a yellow helmet. That’s just crazy talk! Crazy talk I tell you.

But it does give a great insight at how we treat virtual soldiers fighting for our virtual country and freedom. They’re not good enough even to have names. Just Unnamed Rebel Commando. That’s all you are, maggot! Now drop down and give me 20 while I try out these new green pants that are standard issue.

rivercityransom

River City Ransom

Released: January 1990

Developed by: Technos Japan

Published by: American Technos

Player 1: Alex

Player 2: Ryan

The streets will run red in River City as street gangs positioned by Slick combat Alex and Ryan to stop from retrieving Ryan’s Girlfriend. The cult classic River City Ransom has been met with much criticism and fans begging for sequels.

The color swap in this game is an interesting one. The game developers didn’t go for the ho-hum Red and Blue swap. They switched it up! Who wouldn’t look better in comparison in white jeans and a blue tee than his friend who just so happened to show up in blue jeans and a white tee shirt? Make the eye a little smaller so he doesn’t look scared all the time, give him the little Superman curl at the end of his hair and Boom! You’ve got a completely different person with a different set of beliefs, goals, and life lessons. Yeah… that’s how that works…

heavybarrel

Heavy Barrel

Released: 1987

Developed by: Data East

Published by: Data East

Player 1: Soldier 1

Player 2: Soldier 2

Granted, Guerrilla War and Heavy Barrel are basically the same game. Both are over head run and gun types that pits you against an unlimited amount of terrorists to shoot and destroy.

I’m guessing though, the virtual war in Heavy Barrel must be in the future because the Government now has the money to not only issue matching jackets and helmets but also pants and guns! That’s right! Does the red colored gun not match your eyes? Well, now you have your choice of red or blue! And you don’t need a helmet like the old fashion wars! No, sir! We now have the technology to provide high impact sweat bands. Sweat bands – not just for those 70s & 80s work out videos any longer. Sweat bands – the only way to fly.

smashtv

Smash TV

Released: 1990

Developed by: Beam Soft

Published by: Acclaim Entertainment

Player 1: Contestant 1

Player 2: Contestant 2

Now, let me bring you into the future of reality TV in the year 1999! That’s right. Smash TV pits two contestants in a hands-on, no-holds-barred, do-or-die adventure set in 1999! Crazy what could have been if this game would not have been made.

Not only does this game do the red and blue color swap, the creators also assumed that the second player is black. Now is that racist? I don’t think so. I believe that Williams Entertainment felt that in the year 1999, the world population would be split down the middle with race and engaging them to work together to kill their opponents with machine guns for cash and prizes at the entertainment value for society. We are almost there, world. We are almost there. Let’s make Williams Entertainment proud. Big Money!

lifeforce

Life Force

Released: August 1, 1988

Developed by: Konami

Published by: Konami

Player 1: Vic Viper

Player 2: Lord British

Swapping red and blue color schemes for co-operative game play isn’t segregated to just human-type characters. Oh, no. It’s also a guide line for space ships as well.

In Life Force, the 2 player space ship goes through a red transition from it’s player 1 counterpart and it appears to have an addition to its engine while in flight. The easiest way to create blue flames is by combining it with an element that burns blue naturally. These include: ethanol (e.g. rum, vodka), methanol, isopropyl alcohol, or natural gas. Three of those include some sort of alcohol. And after playing the game for about 20 minutes, my money is on rum. Maybe with a shot of coke. Or even better, R.C. Cola. Mmmm.

bubblebobble

Bubble Bobble

Released: 1986

Developed by: Taito

Published by: Taito and Romstar

Player 1: Bub

Player 2: Bob

Bub and Bob make their way into your home via your television set and Nintendo Entertainment System to blow bubbles… and bobble around…?

Color swapping dragons. They both have the buck tooth sticking out which proves that inbreeding is a natural way of life in the dragon kingdom. But the blue isn’t really a blue, is it? It’s more of a teal. Maybe the mommy dragon drank some food coloring? Or maybe Bob fell in a bucket of mud? Blue mud? I mean crud. There’s just no way these two are twins. But at least they tried to make some sense of 2 Player.

I don’t care what anyone says, there is nothing cute about these monstrous dragons. You think trapping enemies with bubbles and watching them get squashed is cute? It’s not. It’s frightening. And there’s nothing cute about a blue dragon. It’s unnatural. Then again, I would think a dragon that spits bubbles as an attack mechanism is unnatural as well.

battletoads

Battletoads

Released: June 1991

Developed by: Rare

Published by: Tradewest

Player 1: Rash

Player 2: Zits

MUTANT TOADS AS BATTLE MACHINES!

So, we see a ton of strange things in video games. A set of Battletoads is just another to add to the list, but Rare did something interesting here.

As you may recall, Rare developed the Battletoads series to be in direct competition with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So why wouldn’t you pit reptile against reptile?

Rather than having each “battle toad” have a different set of colored gear and sweat band, they  went full force and changed the whole spite yellow. But one of the things that always seemed strange to me is the absence of Pimple. The story always revolves around the 3 of the Battletoads battling the Dark Queen and her renegade space troops. He’s also green, by the way. Maybe that’s why. Even though the story says he was kidnapped in the first two original Battletoads games. I just don’t believe it. Do toads change their skin tone over time? Must be a mishap from how ever they became the ‘Toads.

Why Sega Consoles Were Shit Until the Dreamcast

Below is my opinion about why Sega sucked as a console game company. This is just my opinion. With that in mind, what I write here is completely true and if you don’t agree with me then you are wrong.

Sega was a main driver for coin-op and amusement games back in the 1950’s before switching over to the home video game console market in 1982 with the release of the SG-1000. But the console was released a year before the American video game market crash of 1983 where Sega shown heavy losses.

After a few companies changing hands, Sega was finally bought by CSK and renamed the company to Sega Enterprises Ltd, headquartered in Japan. A couple of years after that the company started trading stock on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Everything seemed to be going well again until…

Now, in terms of tearing Sega consoles down, I’m going to leave out the Sega Master System. This was the company’s first attempt to rejoin the home console market and no one should be at fault for their beginnings. The time was a scary one for anyone wanting to develop games and it’s only fair that they had a first good shot before trying to really compete in the market. Plus it helps my argument because they should have learned from their mistakes.

So on to why Sega consoles are shit!

1. Variations of 1 console

The Sega Genesis 1 was released in 1989. Although technical superior to the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Genesis failed to really gain momentum in the U.S. market. A lot of this is due to great advertising ventures on the part of Nintendo and the president of Sega at the time just not knowing his ass from a hole in the ground. What’s a company to do to get back into the console war? Not focus on software! Are you crazy ha ha software that’s a good one. Let’s re-release the same system 4 more times. Yeah… that’ll work…

sega genesis consoles 800x600

A. Sega Genesis 2

So rather than trying to develop better games for the console, Sega thought it would be a good idea to just re-release the Genesis. In comes the Sega Genesis 2!

So is it faster? No. Can it produce better visuals? No. Is the sound quality better? No. Just a cosmetic change. Nothing else. Does it look better than the Sega Genesis 1? Well, that’s debatable. Sure, it might look sleeker, but it lost some features from it’s predecessor. Most notably the headphone jack. The headphone jack on the console allowed the player to plug in headphones, which muted the T.V. speakers giving the player the ability to play quietly. A feature that I can guarantee all parents missed. No one wants to hear you shooting through Space Harrier especially not your tired mother who just got off the 12 hour late shift to pick your dumbass up from school only to come home, cook dinner for you and the rest of the family with no “thank you” from anyone!

B. Sega Genesis 3

Yes. There was another one. It’s so small, you can fit it in your pocket! Because that’s what you want to do with a home video game console. The reason it’s called a home console is because you are suppose to play it at home! You can literally put this system in your back pocket granted you still have those JNCO pants lying around from when you were trying to hit on that Emo chick at school.

And guess what? It’s even less compatible then the previous two. Less games work on the Genesis 3, particularly games containing the DSP chip and it’s also incompatible with the Sega CD, 32x and Power Base Converter (more shit I’ll get to in a minute). Unbelievable.

C. Sega Nomad

A portable Sega Genesis? Sounds good right? Well it wasn’t. This was just another ill faded attempt to keep the Genesis library alive because Sega feared the up coming generation of consoles and they had every right to be so. Plus it’s bulky, killed batteries, and the button set up was atrocious.

D. Sega Firecore

The Sega Firecore was released 2009! Yes. 2009. Sega was once again trying to bank on the one of the largest libraries for a gaming console one last time. The Firecore is smaller than the Genesis 3 (what? The 3 wasn’t small enough?) and is just as incompatible as the Genesis 3 was. Oh! But wait! There’s 20 built in games! Give me a break.

2. Shitty Add-ons

Sega was known for being a head of the curve. The issue with this is technology didn’t have a chance to catch up before Sega got their hands on it and tried to sell it off as an amazing add-on.

sega battleship

A. Sega CD

The Sega CD was released in 1992 as an add-on for the Sega Genesis. It could play CD-Rom based games by attaching it to the Genesis, plugging in it’s own power cable, and it’s own video cable. Yeah… all of that just to play more shitty games. CD-Roms were new even to PCs at the time and the biggest complaint was loading times. You bring that to an under powered console and the loading times almost triple. Oh, and since there was more than 1 Sega Genesis, they had to release 2 Sega CDs. One was not compatible with the other.

The technology was so new, in fact, that it didn’t have the ability to use the full dimensions of the screen for full motion video which was the point of the CD all along. It had a larger memory bank so that meant bigger and better games right? Let’s not think about moving all of that memory to the T.V. screen.

B. Sega 32X

The 32X was released for the up coming doom of the 16-bit era. The thought was more bits the better game. Even today, game companies believe that as long as the game looks beautiful it can make up for it’s short comings in the gameplay arena. They were wrong then and are still wrong today. Again, the 32x wasn’t compatible with every version of the Genesis, but you were able to use it on the Genesis 1 and 2. That’s a plus I guess. Too bad there weren’t any good games for it except for rehashes of games that were already released on better consoles and/or the PC.

3. Memorable Franchises

Everyone knows that if a console is going to survive it comes from the software. Yes, the hardware is important because if the console just doesn’t work, no one is going to make games for it. But your games have to be top notch in notoriety and popularity. These are the games that will live on longer than the console itself. These are the games that players will go out and buy every time a new iteration comes out because they are characters we are familiar with, we care about, and want to know how the story continues. And you need more than just one. One character will not push your name to the end of time. You need to develop a multiple of franchises to reach every demographic. No, you won’t hit them all, but you will give your players a choice. And they have to be worth playing.

nintendo vs sega

This took me longer to do than to write the actual article ha ha

Now take a second and really look at the image above. How many of the Nintendo characters can you name compared to the number of Sega characters you can name. Now, if you can name all of them then you are a true retro gamer and I award you 10 Viking points. If you named more Nintendo than Sega, you sir (or madam) are a typical video game player. If you named more Sega than Nintendo then you are a Sega fan boy and let the flame war begin! And if you can’t name any of them, there’s really no reason for you to be on this blog. I mean, I’m not that pretty looking…

But really, the only Sega franchise that made anything of its self was Sonic and maybe Phantasy Star to some degree. And just like Mega Man, they whored Sonic out to every venue they could get their hands on. Now, some of you could say that Nintendo followed the same path with some if not most of their franchised faces, but there was one thing that Nintendo did differently that Sega did not. Well, I don’t know if I can tell you. It’s kind of a secret. OK, you’re cool, I guess I can trust you… OK… here it is… THE GAMES WERE GOOD!

3. Sega Saturn shenanigans

The Sega Saturn was released on May 11, 1995 a whole 4 months before the legendary “Saturnday” that never came to be. Again, the Saturn on a technical stand point was leaps and bounds ahead of it’s competition. But there was one thing that really brought the system down, at least in my opinion. And it shows that the previous point really hits the mark.

No Sonic Sega Saturn

1. No Sonic pack-in

Sonic was named the mascot of the Sega Corp back when the Genesis was released. And let’s face it, he was way cooler than Mario (and continued to be until Smash Bros was released. That game is something else.)

But how can you decide as a company not to pack in a game that features your mascot? Your leading 1st party franchise? When Nintendo decides to release a new console, the first game that’s tested and released is a Mario game (sans the initial release of the Wii, but now the New Super Mario Bros is a pack-in). How, in good conscious, can you believe that to demonstrate your fantastic new piece of hardware on any other game than your pride and joy? Your milk and honey? Your… hookers and blow…? I don’t know where that can from.

2. Early release

Just thought of another reason that caused Sega to fail with the Saturn: they gave up. Just gave up. Hey guys, it’s not working… the games are few and far between… people are complaining about price… Nintendo… Mario… blah blah blah. Fuck it, let’s make another one!

If you invest time, money, and a shit load of people into a project, you don’t just pull out the second things go awry. You bite down, grip it, and ride it till the end. I mean, come on, Sega is one of the notorious for arcade gaming. It’s not like one failed system is going to sink the company. It takes time to sink a company that big. Even with all of the shit they’ve released after the death of the Dreamcast, they are still running. And they will continue to run. Because all and all, Sega is pretty kick ass when there’s not some jackass making decisions.

Final Thoughts: Could Sega retain their rightful place at the top?

Yes… but it’ll never happen. You know as well as I do we are not lucky enough to have a Dreamcast 2 in our life time. But I’ll tell you this, from the talks and trends I’ve been seeing in the game market, physical media will be a thing of the past in the next “next” generation. All of our games will be downloaded over the space waves and onto a dedicated disk on the console itself.

If Sega would look at the industry for just a moment they would realize that there is a market for physical media. There’s a market for “real” gamers who take initiative to actually sit down and play games. Evaluate it, rate it, and if it’s worth it, recommend it to others. Not play it for five minutes, short attention spanned, and trash it.

Sega could have a great come back by being the “other” video game console. And if that happens, I will be the first in line to pre order. But it better have a Sonic pack-in.