Feature Article

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Full-length feature articles.
Matt Barton's picture

Games as Great Works?: Serious Game Criticism

What are the greatest videogames ever made? No doubt, you've read just as many silly top-ten, top-twenty, top-fifty, and top-one-hundred lists as I have trying to answer this deceptively simple and straightforward question. The question is actually anything but simple and straightforward. It's a profound question that reaches as deeply into our gaming hearts as a stiletto dagger, and, until we can answer it convincingly--for all time--then we folks who style ourselves as "serious game critics" might vacate the premises, tails tucked tersely. In this article, I'll try to explain what makes the question so difficult, hopefully opening up and further expanding the friendly conversation begun in my post on Elite.

Matt Barton's picture

Firebird's Elite: A Look Back at the Greatest Game Ever Made

Firebird's Elite, released in 1984 for British computers and quickly ported to the major platforms of the day--is the greatest videogame ever made. It is to videogames what the movie Citizen Kane is to film--a Mozart standing boldly against the Saliere's of his day.

Matt Barton's picture

Remembered Realms: Revisiting SSI's Legendary Gold Box Games

Gold Box Games. It’s hard to exaggerate the kind of nostalgic reverie that these words are able to evoke in true fans of SSI’s legendary computer role-playing games (CRPGs). Incredibly, it’s been 18 years since SSI released the ground-breaking Pool of Radiance (PoR) in 1988, but contemporary CPRG makers are still trying to live up to the standards it set. What I want to do here is take you on a brief tour of the SSI’s legendary Gold Box line, starting off with the classic and best-known Gold Box games, which are set in the Forgotten Realms AD&D universe. From there we’ll take a glance at the Dragonlance games and, lastly, the Savage Frontier series. Along the way, I’ll try to offer as much commentary as I can from my own experiences playing these games, both as a youth and as an adult. Hopefully, what will emerge is some understanding of what made these games so wonderful, and why it’s still a challenge even nearly two decades later even to match their appeal, much less exceed them.

Matt Barton's picture

Kawaisa!: A Naive Glance at Western and Eastern RPGs

In some ways, I feel that my videogame experience has been a bit limited. While I know plenty about computer games of today and yesterday, I've owned very few consoles.

Matt Barton's picture

On Cheaters: Some Thoughts on Trainers, Cheating, Hacking, and Gamer Ethics

Once a Cheater...: Oh, Pooh...Once a Cheater...: Oh, Pooh...When I was but a whippersnapper, playing bootlegged games on my dad's Commodore Amiga computer, the choice seemed obvious. If I could play the game with a "trainer," I did so. A "trainer" was a little piece of code, inserted into many cracked distributions of games, that allowed you to play through a game with infinite lives, invulnerability, or some other such option that would let you blaze through the game without fear of a premature "game over." I doubt I could have ever beaten games like Turrican and Blood Money without one of these trainers. The games were brutally difficult, and, besides, the appeal of these games (for me, at least) wasn't so much about developing lightning-fast reflexes as savoring the amazing graphics. It was also exhilerating just to deal massive amounts of carnage. The trainers seemed to eliminate the frustration and lower the bar to the point where an average kid could get all the way through some of the most difficult games of the era.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Video Review: Konami Collector's Series: Arcade Advanced (GBA, 2002)

Author and Media Credit: Mark Vergeer
Transcript editing and Online Layout: Bill Loguidice

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Bill Loguidice's picture

Character Selection: From Princess to Dwarf

Author: Christina Loguidice
Editing and Images: Bill Loguidice
Online Layout and Image Formatting: David Torre

Super Mario Bros 2: The 'Please Select Player' screen, with four selectable characters
The Nintendo family on the Super Nintendo, including Princess Toadstool, Toad, Mario and Luigi
Super Mario Bros 2: Princess Toadstool standing in front of a red door in the side of a green hill.
Playing as the princess in Super Mario Bros. 2 from Super Mario All-Stars (SNES)

The first videogame system I was introduced to was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) when it appeared under our Christmas tree in 1986. It actually wasn’t even something on our wish list, but it is something my parents thought would be fun. Sure enough, it was a hit. My sister and I spent countless hours playing many games on the NES, but our favorites were the Super Mario Bros. games. Of course we always fought over the characters and who would be what. While Super Mario Bros. only offered two choices, Mario or Luigi, both of us always wanted to be Mario simply because he was the first player and we were both eager to go first. Then, when Super Mario Bros. 2 came out, we were excited to have the option of playing a female character and fought over who would be Princess Toadstool. After all, doesn’t every little girl want to be a princess? We also loved how when she jumped, she would gracefully glide across the sky, which gave her an advantage over some of the other characters.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Video Review: Donkey Kong (GB, 1994)

Author, Layout and Production Credit: Mat Tschirgi
Special Thanks: Shigeru Miyamoto-san for developing the original Donkey Kong game, which this title is a remake of. Without him, the platform side-scroller genre would not be what it is today.

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