RETRO: Donkey Kong Country [Spooky Edition]

Donkey Kong Country 01

Donkey Kong Country was released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo. It was developed by Rare, and was the first entry to make Donkey Kong his own standalone hero instead of a Mario villain. It was hailed as a gameplay and graphical masterpiece, utilizing pre-rendered CGI models to give a faux-3D look to the 2D game. However, for as impressive these CGI models were, they pushed the limits of realness closer to the border of uncanny.

Many of the things that made Donkey Kong Country so great were also things that made it down right spooky. Join us on a trip through the jungle as we reminisce on the things that made us wonder if 3D gaming was all it was hyped to be.

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RETRO: 3D Monster Maze

3D Monster Maze 01

Some fears are more primal than others. All things spooky tap into the darker parts of our mind, where our basic survival instincts lie, and exploit them to simulate experiencing a level of fear that people in modern society rarely feel. But perhaps one of the most primal fears is that of being hunted by something stronger and unstoppable than you.

3D Monster Maze was released for the Sinclair ZX81 in 1982, written by Malcom Evans for J.K. Greye Software. It relies on a deep, primal fear of being hunted. Hit the jump, and enter the monster’s lair for yourself.

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RETRO: Croc: Legend of the Gobbos [Spooky Edition]

Croc 01

Welcome to Halloween! Or as most people like to call it, October! This Halloween, we want to talk about some of the stuff that scared us the worst when we were kids. It’s time to take a retrospective look back into the past with Retrospectacles’ Spooky Edition, Retrospooktacles, where we will be not just looking through our old memories, but the things that made them terrifying!

Croc: Legend of the Gobbos is a Playstation game that was released on September 29, 1997 by the now-defunct Argonaut Games. It was originally intended to be produced for Nintendo as a video game starring Yoshi, but Nintendo declined and decided to produce their own 3D platformer with Mario himself. If it wasn’t for Nintendo declining this offer, Croc could’ve been the first true console 3D platformer ever released.

Croc, to most people, might be a minor footnote in the history of 3D platformers. But to those who have played it as kids, we may just remember something very distinctive about it: it was creepy as heck.

After the jump, we’ll explore why this Yoshi expy had reason to fear for his life.

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RETRO: Taco Bell – Tasty Temple Challenge

Tasty Temple Challenge 01

Hey kids! Do you like Taco Bell? Do you like Duke Nukem 3D? Of course you do? Well, what if I told you there was a way you could enjoy Taco Bell and Duke Nukem 3D at the same time Wait, did we do this already?

Taco Bell: Tasty Temple Challenge was an advergame given away with Taco Bell’s kids meal in 2000. Even for advergames, the concept is pretty inane: You play as “Baja Bill”, an adventurer exploring deep into a lost jungle temple to find an imprisoned Grande Meal. Yes, you’re on a quest to rescue precious Taco Bell food from an ancient faux Mayan-Incan-Aztec-Racist Caricature temple. As you battle your way through the temple, you combat snakes and scorpions by… lighting them on fire?

After the jump, we’ll explore the Tasty Temple, discover its secrets, and figure out how some free games demand their own kind of payment.

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RETRO: Chex Quest

Chex Quest 01

Hey, kids! Do you like Chex Cereal? Do you like DOOM? Of course you do! Well, what if I told you there was a way you could enjoy Chex and DOOM at the same time? No, no I’m serious – wait – no, don’t leave – hold on –

Chex Quest was an unusual entity in the world of video games, namely because it was one of the few games ever used to promote a brand of breakfast cereal. Released in 1996, it was packaged in with boxes of Chex for free and given nationwide distribution. It’s doubly unusual because the game in question is a commercially sold DOOM mod – a total conversion of the first DOOM game, completely done over with new graphics, sounds, and gameplay.

A second Chex Quest game was made hot on the heels of the first one, but promises of a third never realized. Although fans made plenty of mods to fill in the gap, it wasn’t until 2008 when Charles Jacobi, one of the lead artists on the original Chex Quest, made his own official Chex Quest 3 with the first two games bundled in.

Get out your bootspoons, because after the jump we’ll dig right in and discuss the history, gameplay, and our thoughts about all three games.

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RETRO: Dazzeloids

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The city of Compli City is under attack! Not by giant monsters, or terrorists, or anything so simple as that, but one of the greatest threats known to man – Boredom! Our only hope? The Dazzeloids!

Dazzeloids was a 1994 children’s CD-ROM created by Rodney Alan Greenblat (better known for his contributions to the Parappa the Rapper series of rhythm games) and published by Voyager. This was before Rodney achieved the level of video game fame that Parappa had provided him, and was mostly known as an up-and-coming young artist with some children’s books and two other PC games under his belt.

Dazzeloids has never achieved much notoriety outside of people interested in Rodney’s more significant works, but we feel that in this day and age a work like the Dazzeloids deserves a special notice.

After the jump, we’ll go in-depth into the gameplay, development, and our opinions on the Dazzeloids. (more…)

RETRO: Sonic’s Schoolhouse

Sonic's Schoolhouse 01

Why the hell did they decide to make Sonic the Hedgehog the star of an educational game for children? Who allowed this to happen? We want names. Who, somewhere in the leadership of Sega, let this happen? Who?

In the mid-1990s, Sonic the Hedgehog was one of the hottest video game characters out there. His too-cool attitude and the blisteringly fast gameplay of his games made him the slick alternative to the stuffy Mario. And with how popular he was, this meant there was a bounty of Sonic the Hedgehog branded everything: Sonic the Hedgehog toys, Sonic the Hedgehog comics, Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons, Sonic the Hedgehog canned pasta… The list goes on. It only makes sense that Sega would want a Sonic the Hedgehog game for elementary schoolers, right?

In comes Sonic’s Schoolhouse, a tale of bad branding decisions and corporate failure. (more…)

RETRO: Sonic 3D Blast

Sonic 3D Blast 01
This is the first article in our new series, Retrospectacles, where we look back at beloved pop cultural sensations and break them down for the utterly cringeworthy things about them. From Sonic to the Catholic church, nothing is sacred from the eyes of dogmatic opinions and random development factoids. Speaking of Sonic, the poor blue hedgehog just happens to be our first target!

Sonic 3D Blast, also known as Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island, was a 1996 platformer developed by Traveller’s Tales and Sonic Team. Published for the Sega Genesis a year before the console’s discontinuation, at one of the worst points of Sonic the Hedgehog’s lifespan as a franchise, there were a lot of things to go wrong here.

After the jump, we’ll delve into the history of the band-aid Sega used to cover up the gaping wound that Sonic X-treme left, touch upon the timeline of Sonic in 3D, find out about birds, and take a trip to Hell! (more…)