Welcome to the third edition of Retro Newsflash, the bi-weekly column where we will be covering news and current events on the retro gaming scene. Let me preface by saying that this is just the tip of the iceberg, readers: There is a ton going on in the retro gaming scene, so keep sending me tips and keep your eyes open out there. Bring on the briefs.
Pong Turns 40
On November 30, 2012, one of the very first video games turned 40 years old: Pong, that legendary ball-and-paddle title that even most modern gamers would likely recognize. Although gaming has come a long way since these early Tennis For Two-type simulations, consider how similar our diversions still are: Digital displays, sound effects, multi-player competition, and correlating success with twitch reflexes are all aspects that remain intact. Happy 40th, Pong.
Epica Rex: Isometric RPG Project Gathering Kickstarter Funds
Holy crap, there are a ton of retro-style game projects on Kickstarter right now. Perhaps that is just the norm nowadays, but I want to cast attention on one in particular now: Epica Rex. Personally, I have a fetish for isometric games, especially old-school titles like Solstice and Marble Madness on NES. Tapping into that vintage feel, Epica Rex looks promising, and still has a few weeks to go on its fundraising efforts. Two intriguing notes about this pixel-artst project: It is described as being “multiplayer-only,” and the environments are randomly generated.
Church Harasses Retro Gaming Columnist Over Innocuous Christmas Remarks
Wow. If you missed this crazy story when it was developing, allow me to try and summarize the wackiness: Patrick Scott Patterson is a video game personality who has a weekly column over at collaborative retro gaming features site 1 More Castle (full disclosure: I am the Editor-In-Chief there so, yes, you can consider that a self-promotional plug). He wrote a feature about Christmas Comes To Pac-Land, a 1982 animated television Christmas special concerning Pac-Man and other vintage video game characters. The day after the feature went live, Scott received a bizarre email, purportedly from the congregation of a particular church, blasting him for his “blasphemous” use of Jesus’ name. There are two kickers at work here: Not only is Scott’s original column rather sympathetic to a Christian viewpoint, but he continued receiving the identical email throughout the day, from various email addresses, leading some to believe that this was not actually the work of a church but a bizarrely nuanced robo-spammer. However you look at it, it was weird.
Polygon Plays NINTENDOPE A Brief History of Nintendo Remix Video
Curiously, still-new gaming outlet website Polygon published a rather retro-friendly feature recently. Retroheads like myself are always happy when modern sites pay some sort of homage to the vintage scene; but in this case, the result is downright enjoyable. If you have not yet checked it out, go watch the remix music video comprised of classic Nintendo sound effects and music. With a title like NINTENDOPE, you know it has to be good; but seriously, the Reverse Enginears crew always does top-notch work.
Andrew Gardikis’s Warpless SpeedRun Record On Super Mario Bros is Broken
Retro gamers have varying opinions of the speedrunning scene, but the precision skill of these competitive retro gamers is difficult to deny, as they continue to break new ground on titles that have been available for decades yet still see new possibilities unlock. At stake for this particular record was the “warpless” variant of beating Super Mario Bros as fast as possible; that is, going from the title screen to the Princess without using the warp pipes. As Gardikis mentioned in a congratulatory post on Facebook, the new record-holder goes by KosmicD12, and you can watch the record run on YouTube. In case you are wondering “So? Who’s Andrew Gardikis?!”, let me explain: He is the only human being who can beat Super Mario Bros in under 5 minutes.
Follow-Ups & Quick Hits
Among the current retro-relevant projects on Kickstarter include forming a history of publisher Ocean Software, the pixelated lumberjack game called Fist Of Awesome that asks if you’ve ever wanted to punch a bear in the mouth, the Retro Game Crunch event to create six high-quality games in six months, and an absurd little thing called Barkley 2. … retro game-voting-extravaganza website Dojo Retro (the hook: go vote every week for games pitted again each other on different retro consoles) debuted a near feature called Dear Pale Writer. Although the feature itself is notable for its quality and cleverness, the highlight might be the overly serious tone of its first comment. … I got an exclusive report on up-and-coming chiptune artist 8-Bit Synthtown, which not only includes more information about Samantha D’uva, but drops the announcement of an EP coming in early 2013 to look out for.
That’s it for issue #4! If you have any news tips, please send them to me. Seriously, newshounds: If you have a lead on something, let me know, because I want to report it! Thanks for reading.