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Sega Megadrive/Genesis Special

Known as the Megadrive in Japan and Europe, and the Genesis in North America, this was Sega‘s fourth generation home video games console and it was launched in 1988 in Japan (1989 in North America and 1990 in Europe).

The Megadrive/Genesis is a 16-bit console with a built-in slot for cartridges, which is how most games were played on it. It had backwards compatibility with its predecessor, the Sega Master System, and it also had a variety of important add-ons released for it, including the Sega CD and the 32X.

The unit came with two standard, three-button pads, then later (after Street Fighter II came out on the Megadrive) six button pads (like the one picture below) became more widespread.

The Megadrive sold more than 30 millions units worldwide, until it was discontinued by Sega in 1997 (although it was still being sold and supported by Majesco Entertainment until 1999).

Sega‘s console has a huge library of superb games and many are still being re-released to this day. So here’s our tribute to Sega‘s classic machine with a week of nothing but Megadrive games.

Here’s a full list of what was published:

Desert Strike
Jungle Strike
Urban Strike
Gunstar Heroes
Road Rash 3
The Immortal
Mega Bomberman
MUSHA
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Herzog Zwei
Flashback
Pier Solar and the Great Architects
Castlevania: Bloodlines
Toejam & Earl
Cosmic Spacehead
Phantasy Star III

Enjoy,
The King of Grabs

More: Megadrive/Genesis on Wikipedia

Megadrive Pad 2

Mega Drive Wide

Sega Genesis Wide

Arcade Special

The video game arcades of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s were very special places. They were where the majority of innovation was taking place in the video games industry, and over those three decades countless classic video games were released into these dingy, constantly noisy places for friends to crowd around and play. Video game arcades were social places where all kinds of different people hung out.

Arcade games were usually defined by three things. 1. You had to put coins into video games to play them (why they are also called ‘coin-ops’). 2. They usually featured the most cutting edge graphics and sound, or gimmick, to attract players to play them, and 3. They were more often than not incredibly difficult games to master, because everyone involved in their manufacture and distribution wanted you to put as much money into their machines as possible.

The good thing now is: anyone can play these games via emulation and they are quite common. Get a good emulator, like MAME for example, and you can have that arcade experience in your own home, without the need for cabinets. Of course there will always be those who prefer the real thing and have arcade machines in their own home. And those who like a hybrid of both – putting PCs and emulators, or even Raspberry Pi setups inside real arcade cabinets.

Each to their own. My particular preference is MAME on a PC – at least for getting screenshots – but I do have arcade emulators running on a number of different platforms.

The only real downside to arcade emulation is that it’s not always that easy to find the right ROMs for the right emulator. Some versions of MAME have different driver requirements, and different MAME ROMsets come with different drivers, so it can be a bit of a minefield.

One thing’s for sure though: it’s worth getting into old arcade games in some way, because they are some of the best video games ever made. The list of classics is endless and I’ve already featured many arcade games on here.

Also: arcade game screenshots always seem to look the nicest, in terms of colourfulness and crispness when blown-up on-screen, so these screenshots I’m posting are most welcome to the collection.

Here, then, is a BIG arcade special – adding more classic arcade games to the blog and more high quality screenshots. If you don’t like (or care about) arcade games I’d recommend coming back in a couple of weeks… 🙂

Here are links to what was published:

Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back
Puzznic
Narc
Altered Beast
Journey
Golden Axe
RoadBlasters
Alien Storm
S.T.U.N. Runner
Arch Rivals
Crazy Climber 2
SegaSonic the Hedgehog
Psycho-Nics Oscar
Sprint 2
Mortal Kombat II
Mortal Kombat 3
Popeye
Crystal Castles
Final Fight
R-Type Leo
Mario Bros.
Bubble Memories
Salamander 2
Mercs
Flicky
Stargate
Skull & Crossbones
Thunder Blade

Enjoy and stay safe!
The King of Grabs

More: Arcade Games on Wikipedia

Empire arcade cabinet 1

Neo Geo Special

The Neo Geo is a high-end Japanese video games system, designed for use in both arcades, and at home. It was developed by SNK and first launched in 1990.

The MVS (Multi Video System) was for arcade cabinets. Arcade operators could buy a single cabinet and easily switch out the MVS cartridge inside for another game. Making them very versatile machines on the circuit. And very rentable.

A home console version of the Neo Geo, called the AES (Advanced Entertainment System), was first released in 1990 too (as a rental – 1991 for the actual home version) and it really blew people away. The capabilities of the AES blew other home consoles out of the water for the best part of a decade too. As did its price, which was eye-watering… The Neo Geo AES is and always was considered a “luxury” console, from the moment it was launched. It’s an arcade machine in your own home, and it’s not a cheap system to buy into.

Various multi-button joysticks and controllers were made available for the Neo Geo, but the standard AES four-button controller shown below is most common.

Neo Neo game cartridges still fetch high prices today, such are their collectability, although thankfully most have been dumped and preserved, or are still being officially re-released, so aren’t too difficult to find and enjoy.

Neo Geo cartridges are large too – much bigger than carts for other systems. They are packing a lot of extra information inside, it seems.

The Neo Geo is particularly well-known for its beat ’em ups, although – as you’ll see this week – there were games made across a lot of different genres. It’s not the kind of console you would play an RPG on, though. It’s was more geared towards fast action games. Although the Neo Geo was one of the first consoles to use ‘Memory Cards’, it wasn’t a system you could save your games on. I mean: in terms of saving and coming back later to reload and carry on… There’s none of that. Other than saving high scores: it’s pretty limited.

Anyway, this week I’m going to be proclaiming a burst of exclusive Neo Geo love, with screenshots of some of the best games I’ve found for the system.

Here’s a list of what was published:

Waku Waku 7
Shock Troopers
Neo Bomberman
Windjammers
Stakes Winner
Pulstar
Samurai Shodown II
Aero Fighters 2
Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy

Enjoy!
The King of Grabs

See Categories for all Neo Geo games on this website.

More: Neo Geo on Wikipedia

Neo-Geo-AES-Controller

Game Boy Advance Special

The Nintendo Game Boy Advance is a 32-bit handheld video game console that was first launched in 2001 and went on to become a best-seller. Ultimately selling over 80 million physical units worldwide, until its discontinuation in 2010.

The GBA, as it is affectionately known, is renowned for being both versatile and powerful. In fact, many people refer to it as a “Super Nintendo in your hands” although the technical truth is a little more complicated than that.

It is, though, a very capable games machine and over its lifetime had a multitude of classic games released for it.

The Game Boy Advance screen resolution is only 240 x 160 pixels, with 32,000 colours available on-screen at once, but many developers managed to make the machine feel bigger than it actually was. Personally, I put the GBA up into my top five games console of all-time, because it has such a fantastic library of great games.

The GBA also has backwards compatibility with the original Game Boy, and Game Boy Color, so the choice of software available for the system is pretty mind-boggling.

The GBA also had a number of variations made during its lifetime, including the Game Boy Advance SP (SP meaning “Special”) which had a clamshell (or ‘laptop’ style) folding screen, and the Game Boy Micro (a smaller, lighter version of the GBA, but without the backward compatibility).

This week I’m going to be publishing grabs and write-ups of some of my favourite Game Boy Advance games.

Here’s a list of what was published:

Advance Wars
Metroid: Zero Mission
Defender of the Crown
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
The Pinball of the Dead
Car Battler Joe
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
Castlevania: Harmony Of Dissonance
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Super Monkey Ball Jr.
Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend
Sabre Wulf
Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Mario Golf: Advance Tour
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames!

I hope you enjoy,
The King of Grabs

More: Game Boy Advance on Wikipedia

Game-Boy-Advance-2-Wide

Sony PSP Special

This week I’ve decided to focus on games for the PlayStation Portable (PSP) – the handheld video game console from Sony that really pushed the envelope in terms of graphical capabilities. It first came out in 2004 in Japan and 2005 everywhere else.

The PSP played host to a number of amazing games over its lifetime and it still has many fans to this day. The games are still readily available, even if they’re not really being made commercially any more, and better emulators are becoming more prevalent so the PSP is being rediscovered by a whole new generation of gamers.

So here’s our tribute to the PlayStation Portable and the games that can be played on it. Long may they be appreciated!

Here are links to what was published:

Ultimate Ghosts ‘N Goblins
Wipeout Pure
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Tekken: Dark Resurrection
Mega Man Powered Up
Jeanne d’Arc
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Ape Escape: On The Loose
Gran Turismo
Little Big Planet
Patapon 3
Everybody’s Golf Portable 2

Enjoy!
The King of Grabs

More: Sony PSP on Wikipedia

Sonic the Hedgehog Special

This week I’m going to be featuring all the early Sonic the Hedgehog games on the blog.

They’re all Megadrive/Genesis games, except for one on the Sega CD. And they’re all classics, and deserve a set of grabs, showing just show beautiful and colourful they are. And, of course, a few words about what makes them good.

Oh, and these are not the only Sonic games – there are many more, and I’ll be featuring more of them over the coming weeks. Sonic fans be like: “at long last!” 🙂

Here are links to what was published:

Sonic the Hedgehog, 1991
Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 1992
Sonic Spinball, 1992
Sonic CD, 1993
Sonic the Hedgehog 3, 1993
Sonic & Knuckles, 1994
Sonic 3D Blast, 1996

Enjoy,
The King of Grabs

More: Sonic franchise on Wikipedia
Steam: Sonic franchise on Steam

Sonic-and-Tails

Tony Crowther Week

Born in Sheffield in 1965, Antony Crowther is a prolific and highly-regarded British video games designer/programmer who has had success across a number of different platforms.

Crowther is particularly well known for his Commodore 64 games, although he has worked on pretty much every gaming system known to man. He still designs and programs games to this day.

Continue reading Tony Crowther Week

Commodore 16/Plus4 Special

The Commodore 16 is a somewhat underrated home computer that had a relatively short lifespan and was intended as a low-cost replacement for the Commodore VIC-20.

It had 16K of RAM (thus the name) and a 6502 compatible CPU that ran twice as fast as the CPU in its older and more expensive cousin, the Commodore 64. It had a video and sound chipset called “TED” that offered a colour palette of 121 colours, and more efficient use of video memory than the C64, but it had no hardware sprites (it did however have a built-in software sprite routine with fewer restrictions than on hardware sprites).

Continue reading Commodore 16/Plus4 Special