Throwback Thursday: Duck Hunt

Game: Duck Hunt  | Platform: NES| Developer: Nintendo |Release Date: 1984

It’s hard to think of gaming before you were born. What you know is what you grew up with, and that may vary from year to year given the life cycle of games that have been released this century. However, being born in the late 80s, I was introduced to the classics of Mario, Sonic, Donkey Kong, and other titles that are still being developed to this day. Before my time, there was one game called Duck Hunt that, after 30 years of being released, remains a cult classic in gaming culture.

DuckHuntBox[1]
Missing that rad NES game package.

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Movies Based Off of Games: Love or Hate?

Games and film have been a huge piece of modern culture that have both evolved over the past few decades. Occasionally, there is an instance where the two worlds collide and. . .to our reluctant observation, the mix is usually quite terrible. However, a few gems have emerged from the depths of the game x film world that have taken us by surprise. Let us take a moment to glorify those instances where film and game have combined to make something miraculous, but let us also not forget the times where it created something… not so great.

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Mario MIA: No New Platformers for the Plumber

Nintendo has redoubled their efforts to appeal to gamers after slow adoption of their Wii U console and sluggish sales last year, but their iconic plumber has been missing in action from their line-up in his traditional platform trappings. Will players get a chance to stomp Goombas any time soon?

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Throwback Thursday: Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars

Game:  | Platform: SNES | Developer: Nintendo / Square | Release Date: 1996

We’ve come across an odd mix of genres over the past couple of gaming decades. Some are major hits, while others leave us pondering the purpose of putting two different titles together. Super Mario RPG is one of those mash-ups that combines the ingenious platforming and characters of the Mario series with the equally ingenious RPG formula from Square (now known as Square-Enix). To this day, Super Mario RPG remains one of the greatest RPGs to date, and to some one of the best titles of all time.

Now that’s some SNES nostalgia, right in the childhood.

Why it’s great

It’s a quirky story

Super Mario RPG is an interesting story in place of the traditional “Peach is captured by Bowser – Mario saves Peach” formula. At first, Mario sets out on a quest to rescue his damsel in distress, but is interrupted by Smithy, a giant sword bent on world domination. Smithy and his henchman subdue even the infamous villain Boswer, who is left stranded from his Koopa Army due to Smithy’s invasion. Mario RPG’s story is nontraditional to the series and is full of quirky humor and oddball characters that are hard not to love. Mario’s companions include Mallow, a cloud who is convinced he is a tadpole; Geno, a puppet who is possessed by a spirit from Star Road; Bowser, who is now stranded; and Peach, who got lost in the mix after Smithy took over. Unfortunately Luigi and Toad are non-playable characters, but their small yet solid roster of characters stand strong on their own.

The characters, while somewhat odd, become memorable to any JRPG fan.

Addictive gameplay

Role playing and platforming are two main components in Super Mario RPG. When not battling, players are thrown into a 3D platformer that has you jumping and punching everything in sight in order to uncover all of the secrets that the world has to offer. I found myself searching every nook and cranny in each location just to find hidden chests and items that are strewn throughout the towns. Solving puzzles is another huge aspect in platforming, and there are no shortage of unknown paths and riddles to solve.

medium[1]Platforming remains a key focus of Mario RPG (as it should for a Mario title).

The combat remains true to that of related Final Fantasy titles of that era, but with an added twist. Players take turns selecting a range of attacks and abilities with enemies, and each character has their own unique set of skills. Players then time their actions with button presses to increase their effectiveness. It’s simple and repetitive, but it always has the player on their toes. Mind you this was way before input commands became a thing (to the point of extreme annoyance), so back then it was a new and innovative medium of gameplay.

mariorpg[1]Use attack, skill, item, and defend commands to turn the tides in battle.

Final Thoughts

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is easily one of the best games that I’ve ever played. The combination of Mario and JRPG elements might seem awkward at first, but give it a fair chance and you may be pleasantly surprised. Rare gems like this are uncommon in the days of first person shooters and mundane quest-based role playing games, so fans shouldn’t pass up the opportunity for some solid, old school gaming!

Games I Didn’t Buy in 2014

No one has time or money enough to buy every single game that comes out in a year. Let’s have a moment of silence for those titles that looked fun, but just didn’t quite make it into our libraries this past year. Here are some of my top 2014 releases that I was looking forward to, but ultimately never bought.

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