Category Archives: Retro

Super NES Classic Edition – New Features Revealed

Super NES Classic Edition

New features have been revealed by Nintendo for the Super NES Classic Edition, the upcoming retro micro-console. This information was shared during the recent Gamescom event in Germany. One of the features announced is that the system will have the ability to Rewind.

This will let players re-do difficult parts of games, go back and get items they missed, or just explore a previous area more thoroughly. The feature’s time limit will vary from game to game. You’ll be able to go rewind back a few minutes in RPGs for example, but less than a minute in more action-oriented games.

Another new feature announced is that you’ll be able to have optional borders around your games as you play. It looks like this might be similar to ones seen on the SNES’s Super Game Boy accessory.

Source: Nintendo

Images: Nintendo

FC Pocket Mini A Switch-Like Famicom Console Is Announced

FC Pocket Mini

A new Switch-like Famicom console has been announced by Columbus Circle. It’s called the FC Pocket Mini and like the Switch it will be able to play games in handheld mode, TV mode, or tabletop mode. But instead of Switch games, the FC Pocket Mini will play Famicom games. According to Japanese Nintendo, it will be released on October 20th for 14,904円 (~$136.49).

The screen of the FC Pocket Mini is a 7-inch liquid crystal display (LCD). In the box you’ll get the console, 2 wireless controllers, an AC adapter, and a HDMI cable. There will also be 112 original games pre-loaded on the device. It will support both the older 4:3 resolution and the newer widescreen 16:9 resolution. A brightness toggle will be included on the system as well. According to Columbus Circle, it’s possible that not all Famicom games will be 100% compatible, since this is not an official Nintendo produced system.

Source: Japanese Nintendo (1 & 2) & Columbus Circle

Images: Japanese Nintendo (1 & 2) & Columbus Circle

Next Gen N64 Nintendo 64 Controller Kickstarter Launched

Next Gen N64 Nintendo 64 Controller

Retro Fighters has launched a campaign for a modern take on the Nintendo 64’s classic triple prong controller. They are calling it the Next Gen N64 Nintendo 64 Controller and have launched a Kickstarter campaign in support of the project. The original goal was $13,000 and as of this writing they’ve already surpassed $39,000, three times the goal in only two days. There’s still nearly a month left to go, so it could bring in even more cash before all is said & done.

The $30,000+ total means Retro Fighters has already met all of their Stretch Goals, so backers will have more color choices available when the project is complete. The Next Gen N64 Nintendo 64 Controller features a Xbox style controller shape and all of the original buttons of the N64 controller.

Since there is no middle prong for the Z-Trigger, Retro Fighters has moved Z to the shoulders of the controller. There are two Z buttons now, but both do the same thing. They’ve also enlarged the C buttons, added a Turbo function, and improved the analog stick and moved it to the left side of the controller. The cost is $20.00 and it will support the Rumble Pak as well as Controller Paks (the N64’s name for memory cards).

You can check out the project on Kickstarter here.

Source: Nintendo Life & Retro Fighters

Kirby 25th Anniversary Sale Announced

Kirby 25th Anniversary Trailer

A Kirby 25th Anniversary sale has been announced by Nintendo. From now until August 8th, you can get a range of Kirby games on the Nintendo eShop for a discounted price. Games included in the sale include newer ones like Kirby: Triple Deluxe & Kirby: Planet Robobot on Nintendo 3DS and classic Game Boy titles (through Virtual Console) like Kirby’s Dream Land & Kirby’s Dream Land 2. Check out the full list of titles over on the Nintendo Game Store here.

Source: Nintendo (1 & 2)

Image: Nintendo

N64 Controller Trademark Filed By Nintendo

N64 Controller Trademark

A N64 controller trademark has been filed by Nintendo in Europe. What this means is not yet 100% known, but it could mean a N64 Classic Edition is in the works. Nintendo also filed trademarks for the NES controller, SNES controller, and the Switch console. We’ll have to wait and see what comes of this, if anything.

Source: GameZone & EUIPO

Image: EUIPO

The Power Glove

The Power Glove

Welcome to another edition of Retro Rewind. This week we’re talking about the Power Glove. The NES accessory is arguably more infamous than famous given its reputation for  lackluster play control. But at the same time it was easily featured quite prominently in the 1989 cult-classic The Wizard. So what’s the real story? Was it really that bad? Or was it actually a good product? Well like most things in life, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.

If you’ve never used the Power Glove (it was officially licensed, but Nintendo didn’t make it. It was made by Abrams/Gentile Entertainment (AGE) & Mattel), basically the concept was to utilize a somewhat more primitive form of motion controls to play your NES games. Unfortunately it generally was viewed as more of a cool gadget than a functional controller. Only two games were ever released that had special Power Glove only features, Super Glove Ball & Bad Street Brawler. Though you could use the device with other games through its built-in keypad. The codes you entered basically remapped the existing controls for a game to functions of the Power Glove. It also featured a full NES controller in addition to the keypad.

The Power Glove was a good idea, just executed poorly. According to the Wikipedia page, it was “based on the patented technology of the VPL Dataglove…The Dataglove can detect yaw, pitch and roll, uses fiberoptic sensors to detect finger flexure, and has a resolution of 256 positions (8 bits) per finger for four fingers, the Power Glove can only detect roll, and uses sensors coated with conductive ink yielding a resolution of four positions (2 bits) per finger for four fingers.”

Basically this meant that the Power Glove had far less functionality than the technology was capable of. This was likely done as a cost-saving measure. The Power Glove originally retailed for $75 which would be nearly $150 in today’s money. Had they used the full features of the Dataglove, the price may have been double what it was, or perhaps even more. This obviously would’ve put it out of reach for most families.

As for actual gameplay, you were far more likely to crash your car or fall into a pit than have any success at playing games with the Power Glove. This is far different from what is seen in The Wizard for eample, where Lucas is able to easily win a race in Rad Racer without crashing once.

It’s kind of sad to look back on and think about what could’ve been. In retrospect the Power Glove was ahead of its time in a lot of ways. The Wii Remote itself wasn’t even true one-to-one motion when first released, and that was over 20 years later. But hey at least we have videos like the ones below to enjoy for all of their cheesiness and so bad it’s good quality.

If for some reason you’d like to purchase the Power Glove for yourself, you can find them on Amazon or eBay at these links.

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Source: Wikipediamacjoshy, ingpanda101

Image: Player Attack

The Game Boy Worm Light

Do you remember the Game Boy Worm Light? Chances are if you were playing video games in the early 1990’s, you probably do. You may have even owned one at one point in time. But why? What was this accessory’s purpose? Are they even worthwhile these days? Find out in this edition of Accessory Focus.

So for those of you who might not know, before the Game Boy Advance SP (technically the Game Boy Light was the first backlit Nintendo handheld, but it was never released outside of Japan), Nintendo handhelds were not lighted. That means if you wanted to see the screen, you had to have an external light source of some kind. A lamp, street light (when traveling at night in a car), overhead light, the sun, moon, etc. This limitation of the hardware could make playing games difficult at times. If you were someone who liked to take your Game Boy outside to play, really sunny days meant you had to deal with constant glare on the screen which as anyone who’s used a cell phone outdoors on a sunny day knows, it’s very challenging to see the screen much at all.

That is where accessories like the Game Boy Worm Light come into play. Several manufacturers had their own take on a Game Boy light source product. Nyko had the Worm Light which we’ve been talking about in this article. Vic Tokai had a product called Light Boy which you can see below. This particular accessory not only provided light but also magnified the screen. I think there were other manufacturers who had magnification accessories too and perhaps other lights.

As you can see, giving players a way to view their games in low light/no light conditions was a pretty good way to make some money in the Game Boy days. It was a clear need that Nintendo didn’t account for in the design of the hardware (likely as a cost-saving measure) and thus third parties came up with solutions to the problem. These accessories can still be viable today. The Worm Light can be purchased from eBay or the like for $4-10 each. The Light Boy meanwhile, is quite a bit more at ~$45+.  Conversely if you prefer an all-in-one solution, you can find Game Boy systems that have been modded with backlights for around $125-150 on eBay. Clearly the Worm Light is the cheapest option. You could also use a DIY approach, repurposing book lights and similar items for the same function on a Game Boy. Though depending on the kind you were to use, these might require some method of adhering the light to the system.

Of course you could always just play your original Game Boy games on the Super Game Boy accessory for the SNES or on a Game Boy Advance SP. The former would be on a TV while the latter is the first system that is Game Boy compatible to feature a built-in backlight.

Here’s some links to lights and pre-modded systems on Amazon & eBay.

Worm Light – Amazon | eBay

Light Boy – Amazon | eBay

Pre-Modded Backlit Original Game Boy – Amazon | eBay (Note: Amazon link is for a backlight kit, I was unable to find a pre-modded system on Amazon.)

Game Boy Light (NTSC-J/Japan Only) – Amazon | eBay

Images: Amazon (1 & 2), DDRGame, & Wikipedia

Super Mario Bros. Review

Super Mario Bros. Review

Super Mario Bros. is without a doubt one of the best known games and most revered games in the history of the video game industry. But how does it compare with more recent entries in Mario’s illustrious franchise? Read on in our Super Mario Bros. Review to find out.

So most of you have probably played Super Mario Bros. (or SMB) at some point in time. If you haven’t what are you waiting for? Even if you never finished it, you probably at least played part of the game. From the opening theme, one of the most memorable pieces of music in gaming history it’s clear that this is going to be an entertaining adventure through the Mushroom Kingdom. Yet, despite SMB being so highly thought of, the game is not without its flaws, especially when looking at it with a modern perspective and what Nintendo was able to do with later entries in the series.

For example, you can’t backtrack in this game. You can go right and that’s it. Well that’s not entirely true, you can go left to an extent. But you will eventually hit an invisible wall which prevents you from going further left. Later games in the SMB franchise don’t have this limitation. This could’ve been done simply to save space for the game as it was one of the earliest NES titles. Another thing that happens in newer Mario games is that if you get hit when you have a power-up, you go back to being Super Mario or Big Mario if you prefer. Not so in Super Mario Bros. If you get hit, you downgrade all the way to Little Mario. This can be quite frustrating at times. Especially if you had just gotten a Fire Flower and then proceed to get hit by an enemy almost immediately.

Speaking of being hit by enemies, the hit detection in the game can be suspect at times. In playing through the game again for this review, I had several instances where I got hit when I wasn’t even touching an enemy or projectile. There were other times when I was clearly touching an enemy and didn’t get hit at all. I guess if you consider both of those, it’s kind of a wash, but it’s still noticeable and if you get hit by something that clearly shouldn’t have counted as a hit, it can be pretty annoying. For example, I got hit by a hammer from a Hammer Bro when I was nowhere near the hammer.

Fortunately though, even if you do suffer some cheap deaths because of this, there is a built-in checkpoint system in SMB. Though this is not visually indicated, you just have to know where it is, or hope you pass it before you die. Later games in the Mario series have physical checkpoint markers and even give Mario a free Super Mushroom when passing by if he’s small.

There’s not a lot of item options in this, the original entry in the franchise. There’s no Cape Feather, Ice Flower, Hammer Suit, Super Leaf, P-Wing, etc. The only power-ups present in Super Mario Bros. are the Super Mushroom and the Fire Flower. One thing you might know from newer Mario games is that they tend to feature item storage. That’s not the case here. You get an item and that’s it. Say for example you’re already Fire Mario and get a Fire Flower? In newer games you’d get a second Fire Flower in storage, but not in SMB. You get the points for it and that’s all.

Some people might consider this a difficult game. I don’t think it’s that complicated. Even if you do game over, you can start from your current world by holding A while pressing Start. Otherwise you have to start over from the beginning of the game, there is no continue option by default. If you don’t know this ahead of time, this can be quite the unwelcome surprise, especially if you’re far into the game when you game over. But overall the game could stand to be more challenging. Once you know the enemy patterns and paths to take it’s a pretty simple game.

As for, the replay value? It’s lackluster at best, with pretty much your only challenges being trying to beat the game without dying and going for a high score, but this was a common concept in the early days of gaming. There doesn’t seem to be any real benefit to getting a high score that I can tell. I broke over 600,000 and didn’t get anything for that score. Some games would give you extra lives or continues or something like that for a high score. In SMB the only ways to earn extra lives are by getting 100 coins, 1-Up Mushrooms, or by hitting enough enemies in a row (either with a shell or while jumping without touching the ground).

Another thing I would’ve liked to have seen in the game would be two player simultaneous multiplayer. Instead, in SMB it’s alternating. All-in-all though, this is a classic game and an all-time great. A lot of what I said could be consider nit picking and admittedly these things are rather minor flaws. Overall it’s a pretty fun game and if by some chance you’ve never played it, you really should.

So what’s the verdict on Super Mario Bros.? Here’s our scoring breakdown.

Pros

  • The game is pretty fun despite some minor flaws.
  • It’s easy to pick up and play.
  • It has a pretty simple concept and control scheme.
  • The music in the game is iconic in gaming and quite memorable.

Cons

  • It would really be nice if some of the modern features of newer Mario games were present in this entry, but they are not.
  • The hit detection can be a bit off at times, leading to some cheap hits/deaths.
  • The Flying Cheep Cheep stages can be a bit irritating in this regard, especially when Koopa Troopas are added.
  • The game is pretty short and there’s little to no replay value.

Graphics

6/10 – Let’s be honest, Super Mario Bros. is not going to wow anyone with its graphical prowess. But that being said, it’s not a bad looking game by early NES standards. Sprites are relatively easy to distinguish and you rarely (if ever) lose track of your character’s positioning on the screen. Some sprites are reused multiple times (the bushes/clouds for example or Bowser), but that could’ve been due to space limitations.

Sound/Music

9/10 – How can you not love the classic SMB theme? It’s one of the most famous songs in video game history. It’s quite catchy and memorable and suits the game perfectly. Sound effects are spot on too, with the coin sound in particular being a classic favorite. In fact, some even use it as a notification sound on their cell phone these days.

Gameplay/Play Control

7/10 – The gameplay is not bad by any stretch, but it’s not something astonishing by modern standards. But you have to remember, this game was released over thirty years ago. That being said, the controls are pretty good for the most part, though there were times where I narrowly made or missed jumps. But I’m not sure if that was due to my positioning or the controls themselves.

Story

2/10 – There’s not much story present in the game itself, but that’s to be expected. This isn’t Final Fantasy or even Zelda. This is a platformer and you play these games for platforming action, not epic storylines. But this is the one that started it all in the Mario universe with Peach (then called Princess Toadstool) constantly getting kidnapped by Bowser.

Challenge

4/10 – The game isn’t that difficult overall. Sure, the hit detection can cause some cheap hits/deaths, and if you misplace or mistime your jumps it can result in some unfortunate deaths, but overall it’s not that complicated. Once you know where to go and how to defeat/avoid enemies, it’s pretty easy.

Replay Value

3/10 – The replay value in SMB is practically non-existent. High score? Okay, sure, if you’re into that. Other than that, you can try to make it through the whole game without dying or without getting any power-ups. There’s also a “Second Quest” of sorts which unlocks once you beat the game. This adds Buzzy Beetles in place of Goombas and enemies in general move much faster, but it’s basically the same as the “First Quest.”

Fun Factor

8/10 – SMB is pretty fun in general. It’s not without its flaws, but it’s definitely a game worth playing through if you never have. And it set the stage for dozens, if not hundreds of future games in the industry. Nintendo & the Mario franchise have been cited by multiple developers as inspirations in their work.

Overall Average

5.6/10

Final Overall

8/10 – I bumped up the score for Super Mario Bros. quite a bit because the story and replay value were lower scores but shouldn’t be weighted as highly for a game like this. SMB is all about the overall experience and gameplay and in that regard it generally succeeds. It’s a great game and you should definitely play it if you haven’t for some reason. The game is available on a variety of platforms and I’m sure whenever Nintendo decides to launch Virtual Console on Switch, it’ll be available there too.

Buy/Rent/Borrow/Pass?

Buy It!

Image: Wikipedia

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Netflix’s Castlevania Series Now Available For Viewing

Netflix's Castlevania Series

Castlevania fans, grab some holy water and the Vampire Killer as Netflix’s Castlevania series is now available for viewing. According to Nintendo Life, the series is currently available for streaming in both the U.S. and the UK. So far there are four episodes on the service. Each one runs about 23-25 minutes, the usual time for a 30 minute TV show when you take out the commercials. If you were wanting to watch Castlevania in 4K, we’ve got some bad news for you. The series is currently only available in regular HD.

Here’s the teaser trailer Netflix shared back in May. According to the Wikipedia article, the show will be based on Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (which was released on the NES back in 1990). Are you going to be checking out the series? I know I will be watching it this weekend. I’ve enjoyed the Castlevania series since the beginning and am curious to see how it translates to a TV show format.

Source: Nintendo LifeNetflix, & Wikipedia

Image: Netflix

Do You Remember This Mid 90’s Sega Commercial?

Sega Commercial

Do you remember this mid 90’s Sega commercial? This was made right in the middle of the ongoing 16-bit console between Sega & Nintendo. Do you even know what blast processing is? Does anyone? In this week’s edition of Retro Rewind we look at the Sega Genesis and everyone’s favorite mid 90’s phrase, blast processing.

Well that’s the thing. Not many people did actually know what blast processing was or meant. Basically it was a marketing term Sega created to explain a slight technical advantage the Genesis had over the SNES. It was a decent effort from Sega to try to market themselves as the cooler, more adult alternative to Nintendo, something you might notice that Sony & Microsoft do to a lesser extent these days. But unfortunately for Sega, they still lost the 16-bit war to Nintendo. The SNES/Super Famicom managed to sell over 49 million units while the Genesis/Mega Drive moved nearly 34 million.

So while it was somewhat close, that’s still a gap of 7 million. Though compared to NEC’s TurboGrafx-16/PC-Engine, that’s nothing. NEC’s system finished a distant third with 10 million systems sold. Can you imagine if those 10 million people who bought a TG-16 bought a Genesis instead (assuming there was no crossover)? Sega would’ve been much closer to Nintendo and maybe could’ve surpassed them.

If that happened, Nintendo may have wound up the third-party game developer while Sega continued to make consoles. Though this is probably unlikely considering Nintendo’s huge war chest of cash. I mean if the Virtual Boy and Wii U weren’t enough to sink Nintendo, having a slimmer lead or slightly losing in the 16-bit days wouldn’t have killed their hardware business either. Still it’s interesting to think about. Most likely though, Sega would’ve probably kept on the same path with their bungling of the Saturn launch and the over-saturation of Genesis add-ons (Sega CD, 32X, etc.). And that doesn’t even count their software development teams (and the games they produced) which are a bit different from the mid 1990’s.

Partial Source: Wikipedia

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