Tag Archives: You’re So Retro

X-Men Arcade (1992): Noob’s Way Back


After I planned X-Men for this week to make up for my lack of planning when I missed the monthly order on DCBS for this month, I wondered how to fit a single title into a week’s worth of articles? Then, I came up with a brilliant idea. What better way to promote “New Decade, New Games” than with a discussion of decades old games? And, so, to start this week of X-Men, I bring you the 1992 classic X-Men arcade game.

Luckily, what’s old is new again and my generation gets to call the shots on retro. Therefore, arcades are back (mostly in the form of barcades, but kids are welcome at the one around here) and I don’t have to explain to kids these days what it means to wait your turn in a crowded and sweaty mass of people for your turn to get your ass kicked by the local Mortal Kombat II expert.

Even Grandpa Joe says, “Finish Them” to the kids these days.

About the Game

This game came out the same time as other games like it. You take a popular IP like X-Men, The Simpsons, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, slap a few of the characters on to a cabinet with 4 controllers, make it look like the cartoon of that same IP, and people played it for hours. My personal shame is I spent my future kid’s inheritance one quarter at a time and this game swallowed many of those quarters.

I have no idea even what genre they called it. Simply based on the mechanics, I’d call it a side scrolling beat ’em up because that’s what happens on the screen. You walk sideways, beat ’em up, then walk sideways some more, then beat ’em up, etc. Eventually, you arrive at a boss that takes more coordination (and often more quarters), and guess what. Yep, you beat ’em up, too. Take a look at my expert game play in the video below.

*insert video*

Sorry for the poor quality. Was testing out the streaming set up. Future videos will be better, I promise.

So What’s Fun About That?

Honestly, not much. Playing the game by yourself takes away most of the joy of these games. You want to play with at least one other person. Preferably, you find 3 other friends to play, but the magic of the arcade is that you can meet people and make friends very easily around these arcade cabinets. Because you are there face to face, it makes it much more difficult to throw random insults about the guy’s mother without getting your ass kicked.

Yes, I’m Gran Torinoing it again.

The Verdict

Playing the game again verified what I remember. While fun solo, playing X-Men Arcade with friends is the way to go. I wonder if anyone has figured out a way to play over network on MAME. If so, reach out and we can beat up some baddies as the X-Men!

Have You Played Atari Today?

(Editor’s Note: Our summer vacation has extended for far too long. However, we hope to be back next week and every week for the rest of the year. Until then, I will warm up with a gaming article here to break the stretch of comic reviews.)


For the last week, the answer to the question posed in the title is emphatically “Yes!” My first gaming system was the Atari 2600. It isn’t the first one I purchased myself. That honor goes to the SNES or Sega Genesis. I can’t remember which I bought first. However, our family owned an Atari 2600. We also got a 7800, but honestly, that one didn’t last long and got quickly eclipsed by the original NES. So, while you will often read about me waxing poetic about Nintendo, my gaming lineage has roots much deeper.

Why do I bring this all up? Well, recently I had the idea to acquire a method to play my old Atari 2600 games. Let’s just leave it at, “My current laptop (after all of my mishaps in the past) is not very powerful and I wanted to test the waters with something that wouldn’t tax it’s meager capabilities too much.

Plus, I have this cool retro joystick to use!

The Good

I’ve spent the better part of my adult life trying to convince people that nostalgia is a liar. Things weren’t better then and even if they were, they’re really not all that bad today. Well, I’m here to admit that maybe sometimes nostalgia isn’t a liar. I mentioned earlier that I’ve played this at least once a day since getting it. It has been for at least an hour each time. I started with Frostbite, probably my favorite game for the system. Then, I moved on to Pitfall, which I played a couple of times until I got 10 minutes of the timer cleared. As a kid, I cleared the whole timer more than once.

As I searched the games, I found Yar’s Revenge, which was a game that I “borrowed” from a friend and enjoyed so much that I never returned. The last game that I got is perhaps a more obscure game, a deep cut if you will, Plaque Attack. It is Activision and I noticed that the sound effects were recycled from Frostbite (or vice versa) and maybe that’s why I liked the game so much. I mean, it certainly wasn’t gameplay, which revolves around you controlling a tube of toothpaste and shooting food that is trying to decay teeth in a mouth. Okay, so yeah, maybe sometimes nostalgia is a liar because I didn’t last long in that game before moving on to River Raid and Frogger.

For those who think I was making up Plaque Attack. I have a good imagination, but not even I would think to make this game up if it didn’t exist.

The Bad

Unfortunately, I don’t any of these consoles anymore. I shouldn’t say that. Honestly, my mother might still have the Atari, NES, and possibly the SNES and Genesis in her basement or attic. Me, though, lacking any foresight and (as we’ve seen) little sense of nostalgia, I have either sold or given away most consoles I’ve owned as an adult.

PS1? Gave it away because it only played when flipped upside down. N64? Sold to a local YMCA for gas money, basically. Original XBOX? Gas money, too. I do still have my PS2 and Dreamcast, so I guess I got some sense in me eventually. Granted, the Dreamcast was bought after the console was already dead and I just found it at the bottom of my closet, but I still have it!

The bad about all of this is that I have to resort to questionably legal means to play all these old games. I mean, I got a 2600 joystick console one year for Christmas or birthday. It was fun and I played it a few times, but the games are limited and most of them aren’t my favorites. The classic Nintendo consoles are also limited in the games they play, and the games are often the good ones, but good luck getting one in the current environment of limited runs and eBay resellers grabbing all of the stock. So, I go the emulator route and hope that I don’t get a cease and desist from my internet provider again.

I fully admit that I’ve engaged in quite a bit of questionably legal content online and should have been warned. But, really, this was the last straw? It wasn’t even that great of a movie.

The Ugly

You probably think that I’m going to go with the obvious choice of E.T. here. Well, if you think that, you haven’t spent much time on the page. I know that E.T. is always pointed to as one of the biggest failures in video game history and said to have essentially killed Atari as a company. I refer you to the documentary Atari: Game Over for an entertaining look at the second claim. As for the first claim, the game might have failed, but I owned one. I also enjoyed the game immensely. It is one of the first games that I finished completely.

I mean, how is E.T. still considered the worst game ever with this turd out there?

The real ugly is that ultimately, nostalgia is a liar. The games are fun and they do the best that they can with limited pixels and colors. However, the graphics are still terrible, the sound effects are lame, the gameplay for most games is repetitive, and there’s not much here other than the reminder of simpler times. With all of the other options out there, what is the reason to choose a 40+ year old console with all of those limitations?

The Verdict

Playing these games gave me some insight into what people say when they go on about “the good old days”. I had some potentially bad news (that has ultimately worked out well as of right now) and going back to the games of my youth when I didn’t have to worry about all of these things was a powerful attraction. I have kept coming back to the games daily for a bit of a distraction.

In the end, though, they are little more than that. Like the games on my phone that I cycle through on a daily basis, I’m not terribly invested in the games. I play them to give my brain a break. I’d much rather be playing Skyrim, Fallout, Portal, or even the Lego games with the boys. I don’t know if it will have staying power in my daily routine, especially since I’m going back to school and time will be more limited. For now, I like the feeling of experiencing the games for the first time again and remembering other games that send me on the hunt for them. If you’re not worried about the questionable legal ramifications, I highly recommend the run, jump, and chomp down memory lane.

Old is the New New

(Editor’s Note: We also just went to see Power Rangers and my wife went to see Beauty and the Beast with her father. So, none of us is immune to the siren song of our childhood.)

A few months ago, I saw an advertisement for an official Nintendo authorized mini NES. It comes with 30 classic Nintendo games like Super Mario Brothers 1-3, Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda. Regular readers of the page (welcome back, both of you!) will know why I specifically mention those 3 games. They will also be shocked to hear that I have no intention of buying the console. I know! Believe me, I’m just as shocked as you! This goes against everything that I hold dear about Nintendo! I am a traitor and a fraud!

Why am I yelling?!

For those of you who are new to the page, welcome! As always, we hope you enjoy your stay and come back for more. Please don’t take that first paragraph as an indication of our temperament. I promise that we are more reasonable than it might indicate. Perhaps I should explain myself a bit better. I have often said that all Nintendo has to do is release a Mario, Zelda, and Metroid game on a system and I will buy it. But, I’m not doing it this time. My reasons are numerous enough that I won’t go into them, but the main reason is that I already own those games and can play them through questionably legal emulators.

The reason that I bring it up is that I did my version of research for this article and discovered a similar retro style Genesis system. Now, I’m probably not going to buy that one either–because, emulators–but it got me thinking. I know, I know. What doesn’t get me thinking, right? What can I say? I have an active mind and I tend to follow it down every dark path it takes me. Sometimes it pays off. Other times, I get eaten by a Grue. The best part is that we get to find out what happens together this time.

Now, now, it does say that I am “likely” to be eaten by a grue, not that it is inevitable.

None of this should come as a surprise. I’ve always know that nostalgia is big business. Well, perhaps “always” is stretching it. Ever since I watched MTV (was it even MTV or am I remembering it incorrectly?) try to force nostalgia on our generation by using the nostalgia of the previous generation to attempt to revive Woodstock in the 90s and early 2000s, I knew that companies were in the business of exploiting memories for monetary gain.

It is weird that I’m experiencing it first hand. When faced with the prospect of a strictly financially motivated Woodstock, even as a rebellious teen, I was insulted. You’d think that I’d be even more insulted that it is my own memories that are for sale. But, I’m not.

I’m mostly ambivalent about the phenomenon, as my attitude about the retro systems clearly shows. In other cases, I’m actually excited about, enjoying, and contributing to the commercialization. New Star Wars and Rocky movies that are little more than retelling the original story? Sign me up! An endless stream of Marvel entertainment in the form of movies and TV shows? Please, Sir, can I have some more? 2D Mario games? Pokemon on my phone? A new version of Blood Bowl? Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!

This all begs the question, “Why was I more offended by the appropriation of a music festival that happened before I was even born than by exploitation of my own childhood? I think that I already have an answer, but I will give each theory the proper diligent analysis. It’s the least that i can do as a man of logic and reason. Plus, I have a reputation to uphold as far as word counts are concerned. Truthfully, and with some shame, I have to admit that I’m more worried about maintaining the second reputation under the guise of the first.

Wait, what?

Nothing. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

So, allow me to present my logical and well reasoned arguments. Maybe I was too overcome with emotion to even notice. Taken back to a simpler time when I didn’t have to worry about anything other than cereal and Saturday morning cartoons, I worried only about those things. That theory loses steam rather quickly. While it is true that I was initially overcome with a deep sense of nostalgia as soon as the opening scrawl rolled on Star Wars, Creed took a little longer to trigger. Eventually I came around and analyzed Creed’s fighting style, noting his weak side and how the fighting scenes exposes that consistently through the movie.

However, in spite of it all, I still recognized that they were feeding us the same story line in both movies. At least Star Trek had the decency to admit that the characters were the same and made no pretense of originality. It felt that much fresher when the storyline took a bit of a different turn and incorporated Leonard Nimoy in the movie. Maybe the Star Trek experience jaded me to the others because I already knew the trick going into them. In any event, I knew they were manipulating me and I didn’t care.

Dance for us, Puppets, and give us all your money! MUAHAHAHAHA!

Another possibility that exists is that I noticed the manipulation, but that I overlooked it because I am a proud father who wants to share these things with my children. This theory already holds more water than the first because I just spend a paragraph explaining that I noticed the manipulation. Now, I just have to spend another paragraph explaining why my love for my children did not overshadow that knowledge and set up the big reveal of the actual reason that I have concluded to explain this seeming contradiction.

First, and this shouldn’t need to be said, but I will because this is the internet and everyone misinterprets on the internet. I do love my children. I know that it’s a controversial stance to take, but dammit, I’m not backing down. I also can’t wait to share these things from my own childhood with them. So, I suppose that is just another point in favor of this theory. However, that love and desire to share did not obscure my ability (as seen in previous paragraphs) nor recognize, nor care about the corruption of my youth by the darker forces of capitalism.

I typed “dark forces of capitalism” into Google to find a joke and this came up as one of the images. I have to admit. I’m a bit shook right now.

And, finally, we come to a conclusion. I leave it to you to judge if it is a satisfying one or not. Even as a child, I knew that my childhood was for sale. George Lucas supposedly signed a deal for Star Wars that didn’t care about proceeds from the movie–or they weren’t a priority–as long as he received nearly every cent from merchandising. Hell, Mel Brooks did a whole joke about it in Space Balls. Therefore, it came as no surprise when that attitude persisted for the life of the franchise.

By comparison, it was always my impression that the original Woodstock represented a true spontaneous celebration of peace, love, and music. Obviously, I have no hard evidence for this case. this is solely based on what my parents said, a biased and possibly erroneous admiration for hippie ideals, and repeated viewings/listens to the movie and soundtrack. As a result, I might be completely off base.

Even if I am, that’s my rationale. You may argue all you want, but you can’t prove me wrong. We live in a post truth world. The earth is flat, punching Nazis is politcal correctness run amok, and Woodstock had no capitalist intentions. If I say it, in my reality, it is true! Man, I love post truth! No, that’s a lie. Also, the earth is a sphere.

And, if punching Nazis is wrong, I don’t ever want to be right. Give ’em hell, Cap.