Well, it almost drove me insane between the editing issues and the podcast but the first Weekly Video Game Newsletter is out. I apologize in advance if there are any formatting issues as Word was giving me a major headache. The feature article for this week’s issue goes over all the big titles that are supposed to be released in the second quarter of 2010 (April through to June). There are also several reviews and Hall of Fame write-ups that were already featured on this site so you can take them with you to read on the go if you have a Kindle or some other e-book. There’s also a really interesting look at just how bad Sega’s sales have become. People complain about the Sonic games but it looks like all their games are garbage.
The newsletter is free of charge. The next issue will be published on Wednesday and will be a weekly fixture on the site. It is in PDF format so you can take with you on an e-book or a Kindle, read it on your computer screen, or print it off and read anywhere you want.
Hall of Fame Inductee Super Mario Bros. Original Release: 1986 (NES) Designers: Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka Developed by: Nintendo Published by: Nintendo
Even if we don’t care about Super Mario Bros. twenty-five years after its release, the game is notable for at least one very important reason: it saved the video game industry after it imploded from the crash of 1983. The NES was a hard sell to retailers when it was launched in 1985. Too many garbage games from horrible game consoles had turned people off of video games. When Nintendo tried to break into the market, it was like entering a wasteland. However, Super Mario Bros. changed all that. The game looked and sounded better than anything else available on the home market; it was easy to pick up and play, and it was incredibly fun. Mario singlehandedly saved the video game industry and, even though the game is over a quarter-century old, it still stands up incredibly well today.
Video Game Review Donkey Kong Arcade 1981 Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
The original arcade Donkey Kong has become one of the most famous games in the world. It stars two of Nintendo’s world famous mascots and has been the focal point of films like The King of Kong. Behind all the nostalgia and popularity lies an entertaining game. Although it’s not as in-depth an experience as later Mario or Donkey Kong titles would become, the original Donkey Kong is a game that manages to hold its own. While it was never worth the price of what a full price game is today, it was, and still is an easy way to lose a lot of quarters.
Video Game Review Ape Escape 1999 Developed by: Japan Studio Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment of America
We consider Mario the standard bearer when it comes to platformers. During the Nintendo 64 days, fanboys could hug their Nintendo consoles and say with pride that they had the best platformer available for that generation; Super Mario 64. Not content with stealing away most of Nintendo’s user base from the Super Nintendo days, Sony decided to make a cute looking platformer of their own. Not only was Ape Escape every bit as good as Super Mario 64, it was better. It even borrowed from Zelda which must have really sent fanboys for a loop. The action and platforming are great. The graphics, on the other hand, not so much. However, its innovative controls made this arguably the best platformer on the original Playstation.
Video Game Review Mario Bros. Arcade 1983 Developed by: Nintendo Published by: Nintendo
Back before Mario became a household name, there was Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong was incredibly popular in the arcades and Nintendo was constantly looking to keep their properties strong and profitable. Donkey Kong became a strong franchise with multiple sequels. His nemesis, Jumpman also made the leap into his own game. Mario Bros. was the first Mario game that didn’t involve the big ape. It was a basic game that was quite fun. It also took on a new dimension when a second player got involved. For those wondering where Nintendo got the idea of multiplayer co-op for New Super Mario Bros. Wii, you should take a look at this title.
Video Game Review Super Mario 64 Nintendo 64 1996 Developer: Nintendo EAD Publisher: Nintendo
When game companies think up ideas on how to sell their games, the phrase "this will change the way you’ll think of/play videogames" gets thrown around quite a bit. Rarely is this ever true and is nothing more than marketing hype. Super Mario 64 was more than just and really did change everything. Nintendo’s premiere mascot was busy showing off what he could do in the third dimension and what magic can come out of the Nintendo 64. Playing Super Mario 64 for the first time back in the mid-90s was an incredible experience. Even today, the game does a great job drawing the player into the world of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Sonic the Hedgehog Video Game Review Sega Genesis 1991 Developer: Sonic Team Publisher: Sega
There are some who immediately discount Sonic the Hedgehog because of how the game was created. Sonic was created by Sega to make a title that could be more popular than Mario. Sonic was going to be the poster child for 16-bit gaming whether the final product was any good or not. Luckily for Sega and all the gamers out there, Sonic the Hedgehog is an incredible fun 2-D platformer. The game is built for speed which both helps and hurts at the same time. Sonic the Hedgehog is the pinnacle of gaming for the Sega Genesis.
Hall of Fame Inductee Donkey Kong Original Release: 1981 Designers: Shigeru Miyamoto Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
While there were games that were more popular during their time in the arcades and games that made more of an impact in the world of gaming, Nintendo’s Donkey Kong is important for a variety of reasons. The first is that, while it didn’t become as big a mass market icon like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong was still plenty popular and was a staple of any arcade worth going to. Another reason is that the battle over Donkey Kong between Nintendo and Universal was the first example of a small video game company not bowing down to the movie industry and coming out on top. Most importantly, though, it introduced the public into the most popular video game icon of all time.
Video Game Review New Super Mario Bros. Wii Nintendo Wii 2009 Developer: Nintendo EAD Publisher: Nintendo
There was a time when a new 2D Mario game would have generated an unprecedented amount of buzz and excitement. However, when Nintendo announced that their latest adventure starring the plumber would be nearly identical to the DS game that had released two years prior, people became skeptical. Many wondered why such a simple adventure was being given a full Wii retail release instead of being put on WiiWare or released as a DS game instead. When it comes down to it, Nintendo did it this way to make the most money. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is still a fun game even if reeks of being a cash-in title, although more gimmicky.
Video Game Review Super Smash Bros. Nintendo 64 1999 Developer: HAL Laboratory Publisher: Nintendo
It wasn’t exactly a unique idea because school children had debated this stuff for decades and other franchises have tried the formula. Leave it to Nintendo to release a fighting game called Super Smash Bros. which became one of the most popular fighting franchises of all time. It started off small on the Nintendo 64 which was a system that had already coughed on the dust on the original Playstation. It gained such a cult following that only its sequel that offered more features on a more powerful console managed to dethrone it as the choice fighter for the genre’s enthusiasts around the globe. Even today, many people will still play the original game due to its charm and simplicity. Even though there is bigger and better out there, it is still an enjoyable trip and better than many of the fighting games coming out today.