Let Us (X)Band Together – Remembering Early Long-Distance Gaming

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Let me take you back to a simpler time.

A time when the worst worry a gamer had to worry about was figuring out the code to make blood show up in Mortal Kombat.

A time when controllers were passed around so that every kid in the room could contribute to a two-player game.

But what if you could Hadoken some random gamer across town in Street Fighter II or jam on your neighbor’s Scottie Pippen in NBA Jam from the comfort of your parents’ living room?

That is exactly what the XBAND modem was supposed to accomplish.  Released for the Sega Genesis in 1994 and the Super Nintendo in 1995 in the United States, the modem was meant to start the revolution toward gaming with other gamers with the hardware and a working phone line.  While the compatible games list was limited and the modem was only in rotation for a couple of years- the network shut down in 1997- for a brief moment, people saw what gaming could and would be in the future.

I happened to be one of the kids whose parents purchased the XBAND back in the day, and let me tell you- it was a big deal for my pre-teen self.

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Your Friend ‘Til the End – PC – Tattletail – 2016

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Tattletail
PC
Waygetter Electronics
Genre: Survival Horror
2016

Video game horror has a lot of different flavors.  While there are plenty that rely on atmosphere and a number that rely on intense or grotesque action, recent years have brought us a slew of games that rely on the classic anticipation and jump scare combination.  The most famous of these, of course, is Five Nights at Freddy’s, but a number of other titles have come about in a similar vein.

Without any warning, Tattletail appeared on Steam with a bright and cheerful commercial straight out of the nineties starring the titular (horrifying analog of a Furby) Tattletail.  Based on the trailer and price, I couldn’t justify not giving this game a try.  Originally, I had bought it and started on it with some friends in tow, because horror is always better with an audience.

Since this game came out less than a year ago, I guess there’s no point in asking if it holds up over time.  The question, then, is how does it hold up in the now growing genre of traumatic animatronic horror?

As with most current games, please be aware that I’ll try to avoid any spoilers I can for this game, but there may be spoilers within.

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Some Viscera-l Feelings on This One – Commodore 64 – Friday the 13th – 1985

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Friday the 13th
Commodore 64
Domark Software
Genre: Action Horror
1985

Continuing in the October spirit, I thought about a lot of the unrecognized horror games from the ages. Having just covered the Atari 2600 chapters of some of these games, I figured why not jump to the Commodore 64?

I know there’s a Friday the 13th game there. I’ve played it before.

I love Friday the 13th.

Heck, I could even publish the review of it on Friday the 13th to get everybody as psyched as me that the day falls in October this year!

Well, let me tell you why I’m posting about this game now: because Friday the 13th means too much to me to post about this on that day.

Listen up, and I’ll tell the interesting and sordid tale of the Friday the 13th game that even the NES version may outshine.

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Hack and Slash Double Feature – Atari 2600 – Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 1983

Atari Double Feature

Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Atari 2600
Wizard Video Games
Genre: Action Horror
1983

Happy October, everyone!

Folks, there are so many reasons why October is my favorite month of the year: the leaves start to change, there’s a chill in the air- and Halloween is right around the corner.  Having grown up on video games and horror movies, this means that I get to revel in plenty of mayhem in so many different kinds of media.  Since we focus on video games here, why don’t we veer toward the spooky titles that litter the digital landscape?

We can even start with an iconic format that brought plenty of terror to the silver screen- a double feature!

Now showing at the 3PStart Atari Drive-In: Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Will you you persevere in the face of digital danger- or will you be too scared to finish this review…?

Okay.  It’s Atari.  I think I can assume you’ll make it through to the end.  How do these progenitors of the horror video game genre stack up now, though?

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A Rough Mystical Midnight Ride – Nintendo Entertainment System – Little Nemo: The Dream Master – 1990

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Little Nemo: The Dream Master
Nintendo Entertainment System
Capcom
Genre: Action Platformer
1990

Growing up, there were a few movies that I found myself addicted to.  Like most kids- whether my parents liked it or not- I insisted on watching certain cartoons until my VCR had them memorized.

One of those movies was ‘Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland’, a story of a young boy who lives out wild escapades in his dreams and inevitably saves the surreal world of Slumberland from the forces of evil that had been locked away (until he showed up, but that’s another story for another time).

I found out that there was a Little Nemo video game, and I was floored.  Not only had this game been out already for a couple of years by that time, but I could play through the movie that I had watched almost daily.  How amazing was that for my six-or-so-year-old brain to take in?

Well, it wouldn’t be until about a week ago that I actually played through and finished that game.  Sit down and little me tell you a little story about Little Nemo: The Dream Master.

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