Lately I’ve been picking up a lot of modern made, yet vintage themed, gaming systems, and since they have vintage video games on them I feel the need to review them and let the readers know what some of our beloved vintage video games are up to these days. The newest system I’ve bought is something called the AtGames Sega Genesis Arcade Motion that I picked up at the thrift store, this is a system I was aware of yet never really gave much thought to, based heavily on the fact that it looks like one of the many Nintendo Wii clones with junk games packed in. What set this one apart from the crowd was that is says Sega Genesis across the top, is shaped like Sonic the Hedgehog and even has a Sonic sticker on the actual system, so I figured I had to give it a test.
At first I had my doubts about this system and all that it claimed to do, the wireless controllers were merely infrared LEDs with a gaping eyesore of a receiver on the front of the system. Infrared wireless is great if you need to change the channel or volume on your TV, but given the fast pace of most video games you’re often left lacking in speed and accuracy. Another issue arose when I read “40 games, 110 plus levels of play.”, being familiar with Famicom pirate cartridge tactics I was suspect as to how many actual games there were, and how many levels they were split into to get those numbers.
Putting aside the infrared trying to be passed off as wireless and the very familiar over inflation of how many games actually were packed in, one feature piqued my interest above all else which was the SD card slot on the top of the system. This meant that I could slap in a SD card and add games to the already abysmal number that was packed in. I could add every production Genesis game, I could add homebrews, I could do anything! Or so I originally thought.. and hoped!
But before I get too deep into the SD card function, let me give you a once over of the system itself. I was surprised by how solid the system and controller both were, they didn’t use the normal cheap plastic, perhaps it has lead in it for rigidity, go China! And the infrared, I was quietly bashing in my head, is quite good actually, given that the controller has 5 LEDs shooting out the signal, making it almost impossible to accidentally cover up and block the signal entirely, as well as giving the controller a surprisingly long range of distance.
The Genesis games built in are actually all pretty good games, including: Alex Kidd in Enchanted Castle, Arrow Flash, Bonanza Brothers, Columns III, Columns, Crack Down, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, Ecco the Dolphin, Flicky, Fatal Labyrinth, Ristar, Sonic Spinball, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and The Ooze.
But they also tried to pack in their own arcade brews and games to utilize the controller’s motion, both of which are pretty lacking in all aspects, especially the motion sensing games which hardly respond, if at all by accident. The system and controllers can both be run off batteries, or the system has the option for a 5v adapter, which I didn’t get, but we all know how systems running on batteries can be temperamental at times.
But now we get into the major downside of the Genesis Arcade Motion, firstly and mostly this system is emulation and that means it is rife with all the problems emulation brings, such as: poor sound quality, some video game effects don’t work properly, squished game text, some video games are not compatible at all (Virtua Racing) and the fact that some ROMs may not work at all, by which I mean you may need to try many different versions of the same ROM to find one that works. One plus side is that this system is seemingly region free, as I’ve tested various Japanese and PAL ROMs and they have worked as well as can be expected. But given that this is a Genesis emulator you may also have the delusions I had that the system will work with other ROMs and the fact here is no, it will NOT work with 32x, Sega CD or even SMS ROMs.
So with this system you are limited to Genesis and Mega Drive ROMs which isn’t so bad, until you realize the system will not create a save file on the SD card for games that require a save. This system is, however, really well suited for games that are password saves or even good old arcade classics such as Golden Axe or Street Fighter. Given it’s limitations the SD card expansion is still a pretty neat idea to open up a much bigger library than one might have hoped.
I have the Sega Genesis Arcade Motion Dual, but I’ve read that there is a deluxe version with even more games packed inside. Overall the system isn’t something I would choose to play over my actual Genesis, its more of a novelty for when I’m bored and want access to games I can’t find or don’t yet own. So many good RPGs on the Genesis I will never get to play because this system can’t make a simple save file, what a shame.
4) NES game carry case
You may know how I love to buy the canvas travel cases for retro systems, but I’ll buy almost anything branded that allows me to store my video games and systems. Such is the case with this NES game carrying case. Back in the NES days Nintendo put their name on anything, sometimes it was utter junk and other times it was decent, in this case it was JUNK! This thing was meant to carry up to 10 NES games anywhere you needed to go. The problem was these things were merely plastic covering cardboard, not the strongest combination! The strongest part of this thing is the brass parts, which have tarnished. This is still a pretty cool retro piece to own, and it does hold 10 games quite well, even if it is slightly misshapen.
3) 1080 Snowboarding N64
In a previous edition of Sam’s Scores I discussed how I may have bricked my N64 Gameshark. After a little bit of research I learned that fixing it may be as easy as buying the game that corresponds with the key code I changed it to. Lucky for me it did the trick and fixed my Gameshark to usable condition once more! Even if it hadn’t, it was cheap enough that I wouldn’t have minded just adding it to my collection anyway.
2) Krazy Kreatures NES
Most of the unlicensed games for the NES are naturally harder to find than the official releases, such as Krazy Kreatures. When I found this I originally thought it was an old 8-track tape, it looked so strange inside it’s American Video Entertainment sleeve. Although the game isn’t very fun, this is one of only two games actually developed by A.V.E.
1) Tecmo Super Bowl
About a year ago I happened to find Tecmo Bowl for $1, but could never find Super Bowl for a price that I felt was good enough to warrant owning both of them. Until recently, when I found one at such a good price that I couldn’t turn it down!
There are some pieces of gaming trivia most people know. I have compiled a list of lesser known facts.
- The Atari 2600 and the NES had pretty much the same processor.
- Night Trap & Sewer Shark were developed in the late ’80s.
In 1985 development began on the Nemo. Nemo began as a prototype that was essentially a modified ColecoVision, designed to combine graphic images with video. It stored data on VHS tapes that contained audio and video as well as the game itself. Development was started by Axlon and later funded by Hasbro.
The first game was Night Trap. In 1987, the second game called Sewer Shark was created. After filming Sewer Shark, Hasbro left the project and the games and footage were stored in a warehouse. It wasn’t until 1992 when the Sega CD came out that the technology to do the game as originally envisioned was on the market.
- The NES was almost an Atari system instead of Nintendo.
In 1984, Nintendo wanted to break into the America video game market and approached Atari to release the Famicom in America under the Atari name. Both companies had a tentative agreement until Atari learned Coleco was demonstrating a prototype of Donkey Kong for the Coleco Adam home computer system. This angered Atari who thought they would have exclusive rights to any Nintendo properties. They pulled out of the deal. Nintendo decided to make the Nintendo Advanced Video System themselves. Later they renamed the AVS to Nintendo Entertainment System. The rest is history.
- Steve Jobs basically cheated Steve Wozniak out of money when he worked at Atari.
Steve Jobs started working at Atari as a technician. In 1975 Atari created a game called Breakout. Jobs was assigned to create a circuit board for the game. It had too many chips. Al Alcorn, the project manager, offered Jobs $750 and $100 for each chip he could remove from the design. Jobs made a Deal with Steve Wozniak and they reduced the amount of chips to 50. The design that was too complicated for an assembly line. Jobs told Wozniak that they paid him only $700 instead of the $5000 that he received. Wozniak only received $350.
While most of the world was captivated by the NES, some developers still, for some reason, felt the need to port NES games to the PC. I am without a doubt completely ignorant when it comes to the whole politics of how or why NES games ended up on the PC, so I won’t be covering anything in that respect. I will however show you how morbidly mangled some classic NES games were during the port.
MegaMan, Bionic Commando and Super C are just a few titles, that I’m aware of, that were totally and completely destroyed in the transmission over to PC. When it comes down to it, I don’t think we can blame the same companies we respected for giving us these games on the NES, other than allowing another company to tear it to shreds for the PC. So prepare yourself to see some of the classic NES games as you may have never seen them before!
Bionic Commando is a game that I took right to, when I found it for the NES a year or so ago, so I figured the PC version would be much better. Not only was I wrong, I was completely wrong! The graphics, although I imagine the PC has a much bigger color palette, are so much worse than the NES that they’re laughably ugly.
Not only is it ugly, I was completely lost when it came to key functions. The NES has a simple A, B and D-pad to worry about, and being familiar with NES emulation I can easy map those keys to my preference, but when it comes to a DOS game it seems they made the commands so cryptic it rendered the game unplayable for the first 10 minutes.
After looking up the key commands I quickly realized that I wished I hadn’t. Even though I now knew the commands, the game play was still so horrendous that I quickly removed all traces of the game. It didn’t follow the NES game at all, and in general it just wasn’t easy to start nor was it good enough to keep me hooked.
Megaman is another such title that earns itself a place in this article of shame. The series is among the most treasured of the NES franchises, with a total of 6 games on the NES and expanding over into the SNES generation. But with such a strong franchise on the NES, why would Capcom have ported or allowed anyone to port it to the PC?
Again the graphics are ugly, rendering Megaman into more of a blue dough-boy who downs E cans with swiftness, abusing their effects, instead of using them when he truly needs them. I have to be completely honest and say that I didn’t play this one for more than 5 minutes total, and a few extra for this article. The simple fact is that although the controls are super simple and intuitive, there is no level selection and the first level it starts you in is impossible.
You start off at what seems to be a border checkpoint, perhaps USA/Canadian border for all I know, where you run head first into a bionic cat. No matter how much you fire at this cat you simply can not kill it, and to make matters worse if you try to run away the cat pounces right on Megaman, quickly draining his energy without even a hope of a chance of survival. Needless to say, I gave up on this pile of trash.
Megaman 3 takes us back to a more NES familiarity. After the opening screens of the people who sadly take credit for porting this from the NES, you are actually presented with a level selection screen! But you’ll notice Megaman seems to have been caught taking a dump for his picture in the center. The bosses all look ok, given the port, but only one is actually from the NES version and they changed his name!
After selecting your choice of level you are presented with a more familiar, yet not completely, level filled with extremely hard to kill foes. If you can manage to keep yourself interested enough you will eventually reach the boss, something I never manages so I can not comment on how that goes. Overall the controls are the same as Megaman, easy to remember, the enemies are still way too difficult for the game and the overall feel is closer to the NES, yet still too far removed.
Super C takes this spot on the list because I could not find a working version of Contra, although I’ve read it exists. Again it took me 10-15 minutes to punch around aimlessly at my keyboard before finally realizing I wasn’t trying the numerical keypad, I mean who would right? Quickly I took control of my character, and although the controls were functional, it was way too cramped to really manage to play the game to any functional capacity.
Graphically Super C really depends on your choice of settings, although now they’re obsolete, back then different systems required completely different settings. The game can look and sound great, but I never bothered to remember which settings I chose. I’m sure had I given this game more time and become more familiar with it’s controls I would have thoroughly enjoyed it, but as-is it was the most enjoyable port in this list.
All these games were horrifyingly mangled, to be truly honest all of the games seemed more like a Chinese clones of their original titled counterparts. I was never really exposed to many DOS games when I first got a computer, but I have since gone back and enjoyed quite a few DOS games, so I may be missing some knowledge that diehard DOS gamers would know to make these games more fun. But when it comes to the ports of NES games to the DOS platform I had preconceived standards in my head because these were games I already enjoyed on the NES.
It may only be my stubborn ways of being stuck in my comfort zone of 2 action buttons and a D-pad, that the NES gave me, or it may well be that these games truly stink. Regardless of my standards I still believe these games are all overly complicated, even more so than Nintendo Hard. The graphics are poor, the games are almost impossible without spending countless hours planning your every button mash and overall these games just lack in appeal.
I’m sorry DOS, but I will stick with my NES, thank you very much!
You could say I’ve been on a bit of a plug n play kick lately, but I prefer to think of it as playing vintage games I don’t own in any other form. As we all know vintage games are getting harder and harder to find, so I will play them almost any way I can. Luckily these plug n play systems make that affordable and simple, while taking steps to make the experience feel more genuine than simply emulating the systems they’re trying to be.
This Genesis plug n play system is the second that I own, and it included 6 different games than the one I previously reviewed. This time they managed to pack in: Sonic 2, Ecco the Dolphin, Gain Ground, The Ooze, Columns and Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle, the last of which I was most excited to get my hands on as I’ve never played an Alex Kidd game. I have to say that this system delivers a very good facsimile of a Genesis experience, especially with the controller design they’ve chosen.
I won’t go too in depth about this system, as it works the exact same as the blue one from the other article, I will however say that this one, to me, has the better choice of games out of the two. There is a third one that simply has 2 games on it, and 2 controllers, and if I manage to get my hands on that one I will review it as well. The game choices and 2 player controller design of that one deserve a bit more of an in depth review.
You may be wondering how they packed in 2 player games as the system only has a single controller, well somehow they’ve changed it to VS mode, at least in the games I’ve seen that should offer 2 player. I thoroughly enjoy these Radica Genesis plug n play systems because they give me 6 great game options to play through that I may not have otherwise had the opportunity to try. These plug n play systems aren’t technically vintage gaming, but the classic games they offer and experience you have playing those games sure are!
Today I bring you the final Atari 2600 plug n play controller I will be reviewing. This one is packed with 10 strictly Activision classics titles: Crackpots, Atlantis, Pitfall!, Grand Prix, River Raid, Tennis, Spider Fighter, Ice Hockey, Boxing and Freeway. This one is brought to us by a company called Toymax, which I’ve never heard of, but it seems as though Jakks Pacific had to have their hands in on this somewhere, as the system buttons are the exact same as the 2600 joystick.
Clearly a different designed joystick than the Jakks Pacific, or anything I’ve ever seen, it allows the user the choice of a fire button in a familiar area or right on top of the joystick itself. The system overall is quite comfortable and functions much the same as the Jakks Pacific joystick, if not slightly smoother. Toymax also seemed to take good care of the Activision license in using some really good titles, something Jakks Pacific didn’t manage.
Toymax didn’t flub up and pack in any games that required the paddle, unlike Jakks Pacific. I know everyone will have fond memories of River Raid and many other titles within this unit. Of the three I’ve reviewed this is the one to own, it is without a doubt my favorite and the one with which I have had the most fun.