Case Study in Fading Magic – Nintendo Entertainment System – Hydlide – 1989

Hydlide1Hydlide
Nintendo Entertainment System
T&E Soft Incorporated/FCI
Genre: Action RPG
1989

Tracing any genre back to its roots is difficult, though you can usually find a batch of games that are clear frontrunners in innovation.  Mechanically speaking, there are a lot of games that owe their predecessors for concepts that were not quite perfect when they appeared but have since been worked to impressive precision.  For better or worse, Hydlide was one of those frontrunners.

Originally released in 1984 for computers in Japan, the game worked to present a fantasy role-playing game like no other, though it was joined by Falcom’s Dragon Slayer series at about the same time.  Both are action RPGs and while Dragon Slayer still comes up pretty frequently in my studies on video games and history, I’d only heard of Hydlide in passing once or twice before I found a complete-in-box version at my local gaming store.

There had to be some reason that I had heard so much about one series and not the other, I figured.  Looking into FCI, the publisher, I noticed that they had some hand in helping the Ultima and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games make it over this way, and I’ve enjoyed what I played of those.

Let me recount my journey for you, then, of how I felt about Hydlide on its own merits, historically and playing through it in the year 2018.

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Evil’s First Outing – PC – Lucius – 2012

20180704235240_1Lucius
PC
Shiver Games/Lace Mamba Global
Genre: Stealth Horror
2012

The number of horror sub-genres in film are vast- slashers, thrillers, hauntings, killer toys; the groupings are near endless and occasionally ridiculous.  One particular style of horror movie that still makes the rounds is the ‘demonic child’ trope. Whatever the reason, the concept of something usually cherished as pure and innocent like a child exacting horrible deeds has unsettled movie goes for decades with titles like The Omen, The Bad Seed, and The Good Son.  Shiver Games decided to take their own spin on this with their flagship title, Lucius.

Based out of Finland, Shiver Games has only worked on games in the Lucius series including a ‘demake’ of the original title and a second game, Lucius II: The Prophecy.  Their goal, according to their website, is to offer up a unique spin on horror gaming.  While there isn’t a lot of other information presented by their site, their devotion to the title is clear.  After spending some time with Lucius, though, I definitely have some thoughts on this little tenacious project.
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A Virtual Bounty Years In The Making – Super Nintendo – Super Metroid – 1994

Super Metroid (Japan, USA) (En,Ja)000Super Metroid
Super Nintendo
Nintendo / Intelligent Systems
Genre: Adventure Platformer
1994

All right.  Confession time.

Up until recently, I’ve never played through a Metroid title.  I’ve honestly only ever even picked up two of the games in my life- the original for the NES and Super Metroid for the Super Nintendo.  Fairly recently, I mentioned this on Twitter and after a few exchanges with some folks there, I resolved to finally play through the most vocally revered entry to Samus Aran’s adventures: Super Metroid.

I can pinpoint why it’s taken me so long to get to the series in a few ways.  In its prime, Super Metroid didn’t appeal to me as a gamer on most levels.  It’s taken me a while to embrace the science fiction gaming genre.  The general mechanics of exploration- now dubbed as an entire genre called “Metroidvania”- didn’t appeal to me in the slightest when I was younger, either.  By the time I started becoming intrigued by the Metroid games, the series already had a bunch of titles under its belt.

Since then, though, I’ve become endeared to a number of sci-fi flavored games and have played through a number of recent Castlevania games that play in a similar fashion to what I had been avoiding due to years.  Given my mission statement to experience and learn about as much gaming as I can, it felt like it was time to fill in this gap in my digital past.

One might ask “how did I feel finally having played Super Metroid”?  I’m more than happy to share my impressions about the experience with you folks!

(As a quick aside, I’m toying around a bit with the format of the reviews so you may notice some shifting of sections in the next few before I settle on the best format for what I’m going for.  Any and all feedback is welcome, as I want these reviews to be as reader-friendly as possible, too!)
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Do We Reap What We Sow? – PC – Harvester – 1996


TitleHarvester
PC
DigiFX Interactive / Merit Studios
Genre: Horror Adventure
1996

There are plenty of gaming discussions and topics that grab my attention and engage me, but few really stoke my fires like video game controversy and censorship.  I’ve definitely hinted as to how much I love exploring the how and why of a lot of these actions (see my article on Night Trap for a sample taste of that) come to be.  Even better, I love hearing the voices of the creators on these matters.

Once again, I dip my toe into a game that fought censorship and bred controversy in its day with Harvester.  When Harvester released back in 1996, it shocked plenty of people with its claims of being ‘the most violent adventure game of all time’.  Given its place in electronic history, I could maybe see where its claim could be valid. There was a lot of competition to push boundaries while balancing interesting gameplay not only to ‘stick it to the man’ but to also promote commentary on what was acceptable in video games and film at the time.  According to Wikipedia, Gilbert P. Austin who wrote and directed the game said that he wanted to use Harvester to explore whether violence in the media created violence in real life.  Sounds oddly familiar, yeah?

This brings a few questions to the table then: did Harvester achieve what Austin was looking for?  Were the shock and awe worth it? Above all else- is Harvester even a good game?

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Dabble If You Dare – Nintendo Entertainment System – Taboo: The Sixth Sense – 1989

Taboo Title
Taboo: The Sixth Sense
Nintendo Entertainment System
Rare/Tradewest
Genre: Simulation
1989

Do you believe in the spiritual and the supernatural?  What if there is some kind of force that guides your fate?  The nature of the mystical and magical has permeated the history of the world for as long as the written record has existed and then some.  Whether you believe in it or not, it’s difficult to avoid those that feel there is something “more”- and that there are those who can sense those elements through some kind of attunement to them.

Taboo: The Sixth Sense isn’t a game in the classical sense, though it is meant strictly for entertainment purposes.  Much like arcade novelties like love testers and penny presses, the game is more of an experience than anything else, and it takes about five minutes or so to make a run through.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really much else to write about Taboo without taking away from the rest of what I have to write as a result- so on with the show!

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