Video Works by Jeremy Parish (Video Games)

A bit of an emphasis on day jobs this episode, but fortunately one of these games offers more than mere workmanlike effort. Activision's Rock'n Bolt stands out this week as one of the SG-1000's most appealing puzzlers—certainly a more interesting take on the genre than Soukoban, which gets credit for its primal nature but not for possessing any sort of audio-visual flair. And then there's Elevator Action, a perfectly decent arcade game done dirty by the console's hardware. In fact, I'd go so far as to say the SG-1000's limits do more to hamper this conversion than any other game we've seen on the system to date.

Production note:

  • SG-1000 footage in this episode was captured from a combination of Sega SG-1000 II with (with Card Catcher; RGB amp mod by  @iFixRetro ) and  @Analogue  Mega Sg with card adapter module and DAC.
  • Video upscaled to 720 with  @Retro Tink  5X.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more! Also available in print: Virtual Boy Works Vol. I Hardcover


More arcade ports for SG-1000? Say it ain't so! These titles aren't especially well known in the U.S., since they've never seen a proper console release here (outside of maybe some collection that doesn't come immediately to mind), but both merit a close look.

Taito's Chack'n Pop may not impress quite as much on the technical front as the more familiar Famicom version, but it features better level design... albeit with an absolutely unforgiving difficulty level.

Sega's own Bank Panic plays like a clever attempt to capture the spirit of Nintendo's Wild Gunman without the use of a light gun, and the results end up being quite a bit more successful than you might expect.

Production note:

  • SG-1000 footage in this episode was captured from a combination of Sega SG-1000 II with (with Card Catcher; RGB amp mod by  @iFixRetro ) and  @Analogue  Mega Sg with card adapter module and DAC.
  • Video upscaled to 720 with  @Retro Tink  5X.
Direct download: Chackn_Pop__Bank_Panic_retrospective__Stick-ups__Segaiden_020.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

This week brings us two SG-1000 releases that feel miles removed from the console's earliest days of serious-looking war game: Doki Doki Penguin Land and Drol. Rather than involving the relentless destruction of military vehicles (and, by extension, the squishy humans inside them), these two titles see you doing your best to protect children. While some retributive violence is involved here, those polar bears definitely had it coming.

Of the two, Penguin Land feels like the more meaningful work. It really elevates the production values of SG-1000 games and speaks to a Sega that's getting serious about its home development efforts: A wholly original creation for console that contains ample depth and subtle, precise controls and interactions. It's a real stand-out. Drol admittedly doesn't fare quite as well, but it has its merits, too.

With this episode, I think it's safe to say SG-1000 has turned a corner, and you can expect to see more games on Penguin Land's level of quality in the coming episodes as the console sunsets into Mark III/Master System.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more! Production note:

  • SG-1000 footage in this episode was captured from a combination of Sega SG-1000 II with (with Card Catcher; RGB amp mod by  @iFixRetro ) and  @Analogue  Mega Sg with card adapter module and DAC.
  • Video upscaled to 720 with  @Retro Tink  5X.

Beginning with this episode, I'm knuckling down to wrap up as much of the SG-1000 video series as possible by the end of 2021. There are only about half a dozen episodes to go after this! It's a pretty small library, but the best times are ahead of us. This episode looks at, technically, three arcade conversions: Zoom 909, Choplifter, and Pitfall II. Of course, the two latter games got their start on Apple II and Atari 2600, respectively, but around the same time these carts hit stores, Sega also reworked them into pretty good arcade games. The question is whether or not that arcade magic rubbed off on these releases...

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Production notes:

  • SG-1000 footage in this episode was captured from a combination of Sega SG-1000 II with (with Card Catcher; RGB amp mod by  @iFixRetro ) and  @Analogue  Mega Sg with card adapter module and DAC.
  • Famicom, NES, and Atari 7800 footage captured from  @Analogue  Nt Mini / Nt Mini Noir. Video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X.

Halloween season is upon us, and you know what that means: Where other people decorate their homes with cobwebs and giant skeletons, I decorate mine with a Castlevania-related video. This time around, it's a look at a Castlevania spinoff called Kid Dracula. Well, technically, this video is about Akumajou Special: Boku Dracula-Kun! Or just Kid Dracula. It's a little bit Castlevania, a little bit Mega Man, and just a few minor quirks shy of being an all-time Famicom classic.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Production notes:

  • NES and Famicom footage in this episode was captured from  @Analogue  Nt / Nt Mini / Nt Mini Noir via RGB out.
  • PS1 footage captured from PlayStation hardware via RGB cable.
  • Super NES footage captured from Super NES model 2 via JP21 SCART cable. - Standard definition video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X.

I may have gone a little overboard with this episode, but it seemed worth doing. For one thing, the creator of the Golgo 13 series, Takao Saito, recently passed away. And for another, upon revisiting this game in the context of its original release chronology on NES, I came away deeply impressed by how much the developers attempted to do here. Did they nail it? Oh, lord, no. But where this game is easily written off as a kludgey mess when viewed in light of the entire nine-year NES release library, back in autumn 1988, it tried to do a LOT with the limited resources and collective game design wisdom of the time. Containing a good half-dozen presentation and gameplay styles, a globe-spanning storyline, and a genuine good-faith effort to recreate the essence of the manga property it's based on, Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode is damn impressive for what it is. (Albeit a heck of a mess.) Kids: Beware of tiny 8-bit boobies and blood spray.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more! Production notes:

  • NES and Famicom footage in this episode was captured from  @Analogue Nt Mini Noir via RGB out.
  • Standard definition video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X. There is a small amount of visual distortion in the upper portion of some footage that the latest Retro Tink firmware update appears to address.

We have a follow-up to a 1986 classic here, in deed if not in name: Life Force, the sequel to Konami's Gradius. Well, sort of. It's complicated. But since we never saw the actual Gradius II on NES, this will have to do. Life Force makes use of the same excellent power-up system as Gradius with some refinements, including a new weapon option, new handling of Options, a revamped shield, and perhaps most importantly a far more forgiving respawn system upon the player's inevitable demise. Along with these improvements, Life Force also incorporates two-player simultaneous action and introduces a unique dual-format scrolling system seen nowhere else in the Gradius series. It's quality fare, and a real technical and gameplay highlight for the NES... a feat that becomes all the more impressive when you consider how it had to be scaled back from the Famicom release to work within the constraints of U.S. cartridges.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Production notes:

  • NES and Famicom footage in this episode was captured from  @Analogue  Nt / Nt Mini / Nt Mini Noir via RGB out.
  • Standard definition video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X. There is a small amount of visual distortion in certain vertically scrolling sequences that the latest Retro Tink firmware update appears to address.

This episode focuses on perception, especially vis-a-vis Bases Loaded. A certain demographic of NES owners LOVES Bases Loaded. However, in my experience, people who discovered the NES later (when better and better-looking baseball sims were available for the console) tend to find it lacking and shallow. And then there is the Japanese Famicom owner's perspective, in which Bases Loaded (aka Moero!! Pro Yakyuu) is almost universally reviled. How could so many people hold such contradictory points of view?

This episode delves deeply into that question. This episode also talks about Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf. (Yes, I am aware of The Simpsons' parody. No, it's not germane to this discussion.)

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Production notes:

  • NES and Famicom footage in this episode was captured from  @Analogue  Nt / Nt Mini / Nt Mini Noir via RGB out.
  • Neo Geo footage was captured from a consolized MVS.
  • Standard definition video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X.

It feels like Famicom is kind of playing catch-up with SG-1000 this episode, as every game appearing here arrived on shelves in the wake of a Sega-published equivalent—either the exact same game (as in Space Invaders), one exploring the same root concept in different ways (Soccer), or a game with almost suspicious conceptual and mechanical similarities (Formation Z). Of course, the Nintendo version of these games absolutely eclipsed Sega's, right? Well... maybe not always.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Production notes: NES and Famicom footage in this episode was captured from an  @Analogue  Nt Mini via RGB out. Arcade footage (when possible) was captured from MiSTer (special thanks:  @MiSTer Addons ). Standard definition video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X.


1985 starts the Famicom on some familiar footing with a couple of future Black Box releases (one great, one meh); two shooters previously seen on SG-1000; and a Commodore 64 conversion from Hudson that would show up on NES under the aegis of its original publisher. No big surprises here (including the apparent Nintendo debut of TOSE, and the fact that the games previously seen on SG-1000 fare a lot better on Famicom), but that won't be the case for long. By the midpoint of 1985, the Famicom library will look wildly different from the NES's as more third parties (and, specifically, more third parties of wildly variable quality) stake their claim on NES.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Production note: Footage in this episode was captured from an  @Analogue  Nt Mini via RGB out. Video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X.


Sega's 8-bit family goes on a diet this episode, with the SG-1000 media format suddenly slimming down from chunky cartridges to the svelte MyCard format, a credit card-sized chip that was so well-received that Hudson ripped it off wholesale for their PC Engine/TurboGrafx HuCards. Of course, this is really just a cosmetic change; the SG-1000 wouldn't enjoy proper technical enhancements until later in 1985 with the arrival of the Mark III. (Well, that was probably later in 1985; as this episode once again explains, Sega did a godawful job of tracking SG-1000 software launch dates.) As for the games, well... we're right on the cusp of the MyCard renaissance, but this is a pretty unimpressive lot. Another version of Othello for those who didn't buy a Multivision (so, basically, everyone); possibly the first-ever Japanese console adaptation of Taito's Space Invaders (possibly in that Nintendo's might have come first, maybe? Again, awful launch date tracking); and a well-meaning but unwieldy clone of Irem's Kung-Fu.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Production note: SG-1000 footage in this episode was captured from a combination of Sega SG-1000 II (RGB amp mod by  @iFixRetro ) and  @Analogue  Mega Sg with card adapter module and DAC. Video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X.


Sega winds down the cartridge format for SG-1000 in favor of a new media type, and this corner of the console library unfortunately wheezes to a half-hearted ending. Somehow, Sega even managed to completely squander Konami's brief show of support for the platform by turning in a pair of clumsy arcade conversions in the form of Shinnyuushain Tooru-kun (aka Mikie) Hyper Sports (a cousin to Track & Field). On the other hand, GP World does at least innovate a little bit in SG-1000's well-trodden racing lineup, and Tekhan's Star Force puts in a respectable showing, even if it's not quite up to the standards set by Hudson's Famicom/NES conversion.


Sega enters 1985 with the hottest game of 1982, and the good news is that Zaxxon looks and plays far more convincingly than its sibling release Congo Bongo did back in 1983. This adaptation of the arcade hit makes some curious tweaks to the game's flow and design, and it adds a bit of background music, which sets it apart from other conversions of the game. But in a good way, mostly.

Champion Pro Wrestling fares less impressively, especially in hindsight. Apparently we have Sega to blame for how Tag Team Wrestling turned out on NES, with the sluggishness and the menus and the whatnot. Stupid Champion Pro Wrestling.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Direct download: 015_Zaxxon_SG1K.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

A pair of arcade shooter adaptations leads us into the second half of 1988 for NES Works, both of which deserve attention for entirely different reasons.

Defender II sees the publishing debut of HAL Labs (via HAL America), a well-deserved turn of events for a studio that was so essential to the early success of this platform. And this conversion stretches all the way back to those early days, speaking once again to the close relationship HAL and Nintendo shared as the latter made its way into the world of selling game consoles—including a bit of borrowed audio that raises the question of who pilfered from whom? Come for the footage, stay for the educated speculation.

Meanwhile, Iron Tank transforms T.N.K. III into a fairly ambitious (if not entirely refined) combat adventure with branching paths, a progressive power-up system, and even some narrative. Finally, we begin to see a glimpse of the quality that fans have come to associate with the name SNK.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!


Technos (by way of freshman NES publisher Tradewest) follows up on Renegade with a home conversion of a massive arcade hit that plays extremely fast and loose with the meaning of the phrase "home conversion." Double Dragon on NES may as well be a completely different game than the coin-op smash, as it adds several new mechanics, expands the game environments, introduces platforming sequences, helps invent the one-on-one fighting genre, and—whoops—loses the cooperative gameplay feature that gave the game its name in the first place. The end result is a game that doesn't sit well with those who demand absolute fidelity in their arcade ports, but that nevertheless stands out as one of the most ambitious, polished, and attractive games yet seen on the platform.

From this point on, arcade-to-NES adaptations will lean heavily on the "adaptations" angle, and (along with Rygar and Punch-Out!!), Double Dragon is one of the first works to truly define what NES coin-on conversion would look like in the coming years.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Direct download: Double_Dragon_retrospective__Bimmy_Lees_solo_debut__NES_Works_081.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

One of the most beloved franchises of all time makes its debut on NES, though not its actual debut; the Metal Gear Nintendo fans knew and enjoyed back in the 8-bit era was in fact a port of a minor hit for MSX/2 home computers that had shipped about a year earlier in Japan. Although Metal Gear gets the broad strokes right on NES, it trips up over a lot of minor details. And some major ones, too. Still, if a compromised take on a classic is the one that a million former NES owners knew and enjoyed back in the ’80s, there's something to be said even for that clumsier rendition of the game.

Also worth noting this episode: The debut of a brand new publisher! Well, sort of.

Video Works is funded via Patreon — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!


It has been three decades since Nintendo launched its first next-generation console in the U.S.: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System. On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, Super NES Works returns for a limited-time engagement to wrap up this look at the system's launch window by looking at the system itself. What did the Super NES represent to fans, parents, developers, and Nintendo itself when it arrived in the midst of a burgeoning games market whose revival had been precipitated by the Super NES's own predecessor and opened the door to some ferocious competition?


A curious case here on Game Boy Works: A game that is somehow two games. While Klax on Game Boy plays about the same as the Klax we've already seen on Atari Lynx, it takes two very different approaches to its presentation depending on the region you bought it from. The American release from Mindscape, which actually shipped in 1991, has the same vanishing perspective seen in other versions of the game. The Japanese cart from Hudson, on the other hand, looks like no other rendition of Klax to be found on competing platforms. It's two separate takes on the same property by two different studios. Ah, but which fares better on Game Boy?

As for Ginga, the game's full title is Card & Puzzle Collection: Ginga, and that's exactly what it is. It's a video version of all the disused traditional games your grandparents kept in a storage bin in their basement. But you can call it Tornado Appetizer, if you're nasty.

Direct download: 125_Klax_JP_GB.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Puzzle platformers are in their Game Boy; all's right with the world.

Yes, this episode brings us not one but two—two!—puzzle action games for Game Boy. As if we'd have it any other way. As often happens, one of these is far more fun and playable than the other in hindsight, reflecting poorly on the lesser of the two. For once, the better game received a U.S. release while the merely-OK one remained stranded overseas.

Nail'n Scale from Data East offers much: Two-player simultaneous action, fluid and friendly jump mechanics, and a fun platforming gimmick that also doubles as the key to the puzzle-like level designs.

Pri Pri: Primitive Princess... doesn't have these things. It's not terrible, but its plodding pace does not pair well with its unforgiving, trial-and-error design. Weirdly, this one's from Sunsoft, whom you'd expect to have presented a more respectable showing than Data East... but there are no rules on Game Boy! Nothing makes sense! 


Game Boy turns its focus to the far east this episode, with an action game based on Chinese martial arts and an RPG centered on battling (and being) Japanese yōkai. Neither one is particularly world-shaking, though Kung' Fu Master does have a direct line to the early days of the NES, and ONI kicks off the Game Boy's most prolific exclusive game franchise that I'm aware of (there's probably some pachinko or mahjong franchise I'm overlooking) as the first of five adventures created exclusively for the platform. Of course, none of those ever reached the U.S. Americans? Playing RPGs!? What a strange notion. 


By request of Peter LaPrade, this week brings us another look at a Famicom Disk System exclusive that ended up being stranded in Japan until fairly recently: Nintendo's own Nazo no Murasame-jou. A brisk, challenge action title with a structure loosely patterned after The Legend of Zelda, Nazo no Murasame-jou seems like the kind of thing that probably would have done fairly well for itself had Nintendo localized it alongside their other FDS titles (Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, and Volleyball) in mid-1987. Instead, it languished in Japan for decades, though it has exerted a small presence on modern games like Smash Bros., meaning you could be more familiar with this game than you realize.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!


By request of Joseph Adams, I've attempted this episode to explore the history of (and explain the concept of) devices powered by NES-on-a-chip tech. I'll admit up front that this is by no means a definitive or comprehensive history, as a considerable portion of this topic falls into poorly documented spaces: Unauthorized clone consoles, piracy-focused devices, and ventures in territories veiled behind other languages and cultures (not to mention less methodical documentation than you see for mainstream Western/Japanese consoles like the NES itself). Hopefully I've still assembled an accurate and interesting enough narrative to justify the time and research involved...

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Direct download: A_Brief_History_of_the_NES_on_a_Chip__NES_Works_Gaiden_026.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

By patron request, this week's video shifts up the temporal alignment of the NES Works Gaiden series to leap forward from the end of 1984 for Famicom to the end of 1992?! Yes, that's right, we spring forward in time here to look at the Japanese equivalent of the Aladdin Deck Enhancer, except one reliant on an even bigger gimmick than simply packing in universal game chips in order to accept smaller, less expensive sub-cartridges. Bandai dared to push the bleeding edge of what the market would bear here by forcing players to make use of collector cards emblazoned with bar codes in order to be able to play their video game at all. It's a bold innovation! And a terrible one! Learn all about it here.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!


Well, I survived. I made it all the way through the Othello Multivision's library. If you thought the first four games were unimpressive, that's only because you had no idea what Tsukuda Original had up its sleeve for 1984: Yet another mahjong game, a glacial Xevious clone, and Video Works' very first (of many...) horse race-betting sim. But at least there's a somewhat inventive golf title and a solid conversion of a beloved (albeit crazy difficult) James Bond game. This version fixes a titling error from the previous upload.

This episode's titles:

  • San Nin Mahjong
  • Challenge Derby
  • Okamoto Ayako no Match Play Golf
  • Space Armor
  • James Bond 007

Special thanks to Omar Cornut for his assistance with this episode!


While Segaiden has covered every SG-1000 release through the end of 1984 at this point, there's technically still a set of games for the system that need to be touched on. Eight (or technically nine) unique releases for SG-1000 appeared in 1983 and ’84, under a non-Sega publisher, branded for release on a different console. Nevertheless, they're a part of SG-1000 history, as each of them runs on the system with no fuss.

Yes, this episode we look at the SG-1000's semi-official clone, the Tsukuda Original Othello Multivision. With eight unique carts and one built-in ROM, it's worth exploring... but only barely. These games are generally of MUCH lower quality than Sega's own releases. In this episode, we explore:

  • Othello
  • Q*Bert
  • Guzzler
  • Space Mountain

Buckle in. It's a pretty bumpy ride.

Special thanks to Omar Cornut for his assistance with this and the next episode!


The other two mid-’88 releases for Atari 7800 consist of yet another computer port and—wow!—the console's first original creation. Although this original creation ended up being ported to several other Atari systems, which rather undermines its exclusive appeal. Still, it's good to see a game on 7800 that hadn't already shown up in arcades and on computers four or five years earlier, you know?

Video Works is a patron-funded project. For early video access, exclusive podcasts and mini-zines, and more, please support my work at patreon.com/gamespite — thank you!


Before we continue with the Sega and Nintendo stuff, Atari deserves a brief stopover to see what the 7800 was up to for the first half of 1988. As it turns out, the answer is "not a whole heck of a lot." Happily, the one game to ship during this period—Lucasfilm Games' Ballblazer—has more than enough history and content behind it to support most of this episode before we jump into summer ’88 and, ironically, Winter Games from Epyx.

You'll notice a change in the hosting segments here, as I've begun recording them on period-appropriate media (VHS tape) for authenticity, or something. Clearly I need to iron out some bugs and get my playback head cleaned, but I'm working on it...

And yes, I made some generalizations about the relationship between Atari 5200 and Atari 8-bit computers, but I'll be going into more detail on that one of these days, when I tackle the XEGS (which technically counts as a console that debuted post-crash, sort of, making it arguably eligible for inclusion in Video Works).

Video Works is a patron-funded project. For early video access, exclusive podcasts and mini-zines, and more, please support my work at patreon.com/gamespite — thank you!


I haven't forgotten my other child. Metroidvania Works has reached a weird place in its chronology, where it's kind of entangled and overlapping with NES Works—as you can see from the fact that this episode's back-up feature covers the next title that will appear on that series. Of course, the main event here is a game that never reached the U.S., so it's worth looking at here—especially given how influential it was on at least one major metroidvania work that appeared nearly two decades later.

Video Works is a patron-funded project. For early video access, exclusive podcasts and mini-zines, and more, please support my work at patreon.com/gamespite — thank you!


1984 comes to an end for the Famicom with a trio of releases that American fans will recognize from the Black Box launch era of the NES. Arriving singly in 1984 rather than en masse a year or two later amidst dozens of other games with a similar visual vibe, benighted NES releases Urban Champion and Clu Clu Land stand up a bit better here. (Excitebike, of course, rules no matter what the context.)

Also this episode, Namco's Mappy brings the company's most uninspired mascot of the early ’80s to Famicom in another respectable home adaptation that flatters the Famicom hardware when held up against contemporary conversions. And that's it for Nintendo and Sega's ’84 offerings!

When NES Works Gaiden resumes later this year, we'll be in the heady days of 1985.

Video Works is a patron-funded project. For early video access, exclusive podcasts and mini-zines, and more, please support my work at patreon.com/gamespite — thank you!


Two Nintendo games and two Namco (Namcot??) titles this week to bring Famicom's 1984 lineup streaking toward its finale. I'm not sure any of these games will set anyone's heart on fire here in 2021, due to (1) the kinda mundane nature of Nintendo's releases and (2) overexposure to Namco's games. But pretend you are a small child in 1984! In that context, these games are pretty great. Except Mahjong. No child wants that.


Another step along the Road to NES Works this week as we look again at the next round of software releases for Nintendo Famicom. Unlike last time, only one of these games made its way to the U.S. on NES, the other two (Galaxian and Devil World) seemingly being skipped over due to datedness and, uh, satanism? What was this, 2021?


A couple of follow-ups to 1983 releases this week, as well as a couple of games that appear to have been held over from 1983. Yes, SG-1000 begins 1984 with a hangover. Pachinko II is the affordable and expanded follow-up to Pachinko. Golgo 13 is not a sequel, despite the number in the title. It's a tie-in with a long-running manga and anime series, presumably tied to a big theatrical release. Orguss is another anime property, this one related to Macross and its ilk. You know what that means: Transforming robots. Home Mahjong brings multiplayer competition to the console mahjong space, using a fascinating physical accessory to make such a thing possible on a single television.


Now that we've seen both Nintendo and Sega's offerings for 1983, we move along to 1984 and the first wave of Famicom releases. All but one of these titles have already put in an appearance on NES Works proper as entries in the 1985 and ’86 Black Box NES launch rollout catalog, so the first half of this episode is simple a recap and reminder to give a sense of these games' place in the context of their 1984 debut in Japan. The second half, however, downshifts into low gear to take a leisurely cruise through a game that is generally regarded as a joke (thanks to its title) outside of Japan, when it's regarded at all: Hudson's Nuts & Milk. My hope is that after viewing this episode, you'll have a better appreciation for the place Nuts & Milk holds in video game history—not simply for how it represents a key change for Nintendo's business model, but also for how radically Hudson reinvented it to appeal to Famicom consumers.

(You may, of course, continue to chuckle at its name. Titter, even.) Games this episode:

  • Tennis
  • Pinball
  • Wild Gunman
  • Duck Hunt
  • Golf
  • Hogan's Alley
  • Donkey Kong 3
  • Nuts & Milk

This week we hit on the two most expensive games for the SG-1000. Every console's gotta have at least one of them, right? The ultra-rare collector's chase piece that hits the brakes on any reasonable dream of ever owning a complete set? In this case, those disasterpieces are Space Slalom, a mere slip of an almost-racing game, and Pachinko, the pachinko sim so busted they recalled it. Yes, the great console gaming tradition of incredibly expensive games also being incredibly undesirable for gameplay purposes really begins here, with the SG-1000. On the plus side, there's also Zippy Race, a pretty good conversion of a minor Irem arcade hit, and Exerion, a Jaleco arcade port that tries really hard, bless its heart.

And that wraps it up for 1983! Next up: 1984, surprisingly enough.


Sega has always been an arcade powerhouse—even now, they run arcades in Japan. They've become fan destinations for more than just playing games; I bought taiyaki in the shape of the Sega logo at their Akihabara location a year ago. And this episode showcases just how heavily Sega plowed the arcade-to-home conversion furrow from the very start, with four games based heavily on arcade properties or concepts:

  • Sega Flipper, arguably the first true arcade-style video console pinball game;
  • Pop Flamer, a port of a weird Jaleco coin-op;
  • Pacar, a sequel in all but name to Head On; and
  • Sega-Galaga... which is just Galaga, but for Sega.

They're not all winners, but they're mostly good! Just pretend Pop Flamer never happened. That game could never live up to its delirious box art, anyway.


Only two games feature in this week's episode, because both are interesting enough (and contain a rich enough history) to merit a more in-depth discussion. First, Sindbad Mystery brings the maze chase genre to SG-1000 by adopting a number of elements seen in early games from the genre—ranging from Heiankyo Alien to Crush Roller—but approaching these concepts in a fresh and entertaining way. And then, of course, there's Monaco GP, one of the real heavy-hitters for this console. While more constrained by technology than its arcade forebear, this SG-1000 racer acquits itself nicely with a great sense of speed and a variety of on-track hazards to manage.

This series has been made possible in part by the work of Omar Cornut, the Game Developers Research Institute, segaretro.org, iFixRetro, and Analogue Co.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


A few more Sega arcade conversions this week, featuring—unbelievably enough!—shooters and sports games. You sense a theme taking shape here, maybe?

Yamato covers a lot of the same ground (so to speak) as SG-1000's earlier ocean warfare shooter, N-Sub, though it mixes things up slightly by focusing on surface warfare.

Meanwhile, Star Jacker is a scrolling shooter that plays a little more smoothly than Borderline, though its bizarre central premise and mechanic make for a curious inverted gameplay difficulty curve.

On the sports side, Champion Tennis and Champion Baseball maintain the vibe of Champion Golf: Console ports of someone else's game, decent enough for 1983 but lacking in hindsight due to the massive upheavals and improvements those sports genres had lurking in the wings of history.

All in all, not the most inspiring set of games ever... but definitely better than last episode's.

This series has been made possible in part by the work of Omar Cornut, the Game Developers Research Institute, segaretro.org, iFixRetro, and Analogue Co.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Beyond the initial trio of Compile-developed shooting games for SG-1000, we have the next four titles in the platform's library, all released on some indeterminate date in 1983. While they do help diversify the system's lineup to include something beyond shooting and combat, none of these releases manage to be particularly inspiring nearly four decades later—and one game in particular, which should have been this week's big triumph, misses the mark so badly it's best forgotten about. I promise things will get better from here, though!

Special thanks for this series go to Omar Cornut, the Game Developers Research Institute, segaretro.org, and Analogue Co.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Our first dive into the SG-1000 catalog covers the three games that the internet seems convinced comprised the console's day-one releases. It's difficult to say when SG-1000 titles actually debuted, as Sega hasn't been especially granular with its published historic information. But these three carts are the first three items in the SG-1000 catalog (Borderline, Safari Hunting, and N-Sub are G-1001, G-1002, and G-1003, respectively), so that seems like a good basis for an argument here.

These games share a few details in common. They're all three conversions from the VIC-Dual arcade hardware Sega and Gremlin designed in the late ’70s, which was very similar in terms of components and capabilities to the SG-1000; and they all three appear to have been developed by a newly formed studio called "Compile." I don't know, maybe you've heard of them? Special thanks for this series go to Omar Cornut, segaretro.org, and Analogue Co.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


35 years ago this week, Nintendo launched the Disk System expansion for Family Computer—one of the most important (and one of the few successful) console add-ons ever. Boosting the power, capabilities, and storage capacity of the Famicom, the Disk System helped usher in a new generation of console games... and then, console games caught up with the Disk System, rendering it obsolete. Nevertheless, in its brief lifetime, the FDS gave us major franchises like Zelda, Metroid, and Castlevania, while also changing the way players interacted with their television games. This episode pays tribute to the Disk System and its impressive legacy.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.

Direct download: Famicom_Disk_System_retrospective__Error_35__NES_Works_Gaiden_18.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

The road to NES Works begins here!

It's difficult to know what the year 2021 has in store for us, but you can at least look forward to one constant (fingers crossed): This comprehensive deep dive into the Sega 8-bit catalog. Beginning this week, most of my effort for much of 2021 will be focused on exploring the history of the Sega SG-1000 before rolling into the American Master System launch, bringing these compact Sega overviews into line with NES Works 1988 (which we'll still be checking in on from time to time!). I'll also be producing extremely brief summaries of the Famicom games released in Japan in parallel to these SG-1000 titles throughout 1984 and ’85, all the way through the American NES launch.

This episode kicks things off with an overview of the Sega SG-1000's launch, which happened to fall on the same day as the debut of Nintendo Famicom, and the hardware itself. Special thanks for this series to: Omar Cornut, segaretro.org, and Analogue Co.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.

Direct download: Sega_SG-1000_retrospective__The_real_family_computer__Segaiden_003.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 9:15am EST

In the year 198X, an elite American ex-soldier traveled into the jungle for a stealth mission that ended in a showdown with a Soviet HIND-D helicopter. Sound familiar? No, this isn't Metal Gear (that's next episode), but instead a game based on a film that very clearly has served as a primary text for Hideo Kojima through the years: Rambo, aka First Blood Part II. Rambo for NES is widely reviled as one of the worst games ever released for the platform. Not only is this a factually incorrect perspective, it grievously sells short the actual ambition behind this game—not to mention the many ways in which it actually pushed the envelope of NES releases (thanks in large part to the lengthy delays that its own inspirations, Zelda II and Castlevania II, suffered en route to their U.S. localizations).

Rambo is a long way from being a great game, but it's a game that makes a sincere effort to do something interesting with a licensed property. It trips over its combat-bootlaces more often than not, but you definitely have to respect the hustle... especially within the context of its original release window. And "context" is what this video series is all about.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.

Direct download: Rambo_retrospective__Stallone_in_the_dark__NES_Works_079.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 9:11am EST

Echoing last week's episode, this week we see a decidedly dated-looking game (City Connection) that nevertheless manages to be entertaining enough to transcend its relative age and sit comfortably in the 1988 NES lineup. On the other hand, Freedom Force is anything but dated, with some of the most stylish visuals seen to this point on NES. I'd rather play City Connection, but there's no denying the primal visual appeal of Freedom Force's attract mode....

Also, a bit of housekeeping: The host segments will be a little unusual for the next few episodes as my office space is currently unavailable for filming, forcing me to tape next to my portable photo box for the time being. Also, I realized while reviewing this episode that I made a point unclearly—I said Freedom Force is the first example on NES of a Japanese and American studio collaborating, which obviously isn't true. It's the first example I can name of the Japanese and American branches *of a single studio* collaborating on a project.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.

Direct download: 078_City_Connection.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

A pair of old-school sports games this week—one whose quality and playability transcends its visuals, and ones whose quality and playability... do not.

Nintendo's Ice Hockey, developed in collaboration with NES Volleyball creators Pax Softnica, distills the essence of the sport into a take whose simplistic style makes possible some truly accessible, fast-paced gameplay that transcends its genre. It's a remarkable game in many respects!

Major League Baseball is a mediocre Famista clone whose sales pitch consists entirely of, "We have real team names." Your mileage will vary, greatly.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.

Direct download: Ice_Hockey__MLB_retrospective__Sports_memorabilia__NES_Works_077.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

This week demonstrates the danger inherent in covering two games per episode as fate lands a one-two punch of mediocrity from two of the console's most dire creative combos: TOSE and Bandai, and Micronics and SNK. The results are about what you'd expect. That is to say, not so great.

Dragon Power, of course, is another halfhearted attempt by Bandai to bring a Japanese game based on a manga or anime license to the U.S. without making the effort to license or localize the original work. Where Dragon Power differs from the likes of Chubby Cherub is in the fact that its source material—Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball—would go on to become one of the most successful and beloved Japanese properties in the entire world rather than just a local phenomenon. This makes Dragon Power's superficial changes all the more conspicuous in hindsight.

As for Ikari Warriors II, it's just as crummy as its predecessor. But way more interesting, as developer Micronics made a real effort here to spruce up the NES port with some new mechanics. It wasn't a successful effort by any means, but you have to respect the hustle.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


By patron request of Jon, here's a follow-up to the Mega Man Legends episode from several months back: Its wonderful prequel, the Misadventures of Tron Bonne. No, it's not actually a Game Boy game. It's fine. You'll be fine.

Misadventures is a weird little game, a shoestring-budget spinoff of a spinoff of a series whose sales figures were already beginning to flag. I have no idea how it was greenlit, how it was localized, and most of all how it turned out so well. But it did! It's a breezy, whimsical game packed with variety and tons of heart. It admittedly doesn't maintain its energy and confidence throughout the entire adventure, but with so many activities and so much optional depth on offer, the weaker moments never bog down the experience—in fact, you can skip them altogether. A truly one-of-a-kind creation from the end of a different era of video game publishing.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


This episode brings the Game Gear launch window, as it were, to a finish by wrapping up the final few Japanese releases of 1990. There are a few old favorites ("favorites") here, a compromised arcade port, and a first-of-its-kind release that admittedly hasn't aged especially well. An interesting combination of titles, though, and a pretty good conclusion for a well-rounded introduction for Sega's portable platform.

Special thanks to Stone Age Gamer for helping to make this series possible with their EverDrive-GG X7: https://stoneagegamer.com/everdrive-gg-x7-black.html

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Wishing you a Meli Kalikimaka this week, despite my rage over a bad game about wood and water. Thankfully, we have Rare to infuse a little holiday gratitude into the season with a very good, very fun, and very inventive take on racing: R.C. Pro-Am. It doesn't erase the nothing of a game that is T&C Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage from existence, but it does at least provide balance in the Force or whatever.

Also this week: The mysterious NES Max. What could it be??

Special thanks to Steve Lin of the Video Game History Foundation (https://gamehistory.org) for lending use of the game packaging, and to Numskull Designs for the seasonal apparel (http://www.numskull.com/products/street-fighter-ken-vs-ryu-christmas-jumper-sweater/).

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


The second entry in the Final Fantasy Legend series—or SaGa, if you prefer—amped up the features, narrative, mechanics, and overall design sensibilities of the groundbreaking first game. With new races, an elaborate cosmology, inventive dungeon design, an unconventional death mechanic, and all kinds of poorly explained gameplay systems to grapple with, Final Fantasy Legend II is in some respects a high point of the SaGa series. And with both a SaGa Game Boy compilation and remaster of SaGa Frontier for PlayStation due out in the near future, there's no better time to get acquainted with this sometimes-baffling role-playing series that is well and truly here to stay... whether you like it or not.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Konami knocks it out of the park yet again with one of the greatest arcade conversions ever to hit the NES: Cooperative platform shooter Contra. It's a rare example of a coin-op title being ported faithfully to NES and somehow improving on the source material. With its tight level design, inventive bosses, impressive weapons, and slightly combative gameplay, Contra is a true NES classic that continues to be a great time more than 30 years later.

Special thanks to Steve Lin of the Video Game History Foundation for letting me photograph his very shiny Contra box!

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.

Direct download: Contra_retrospective__Alien_Predator_vs._Commandos__NES_Works_074.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Moving beyond the three launch-day Japanese releases for Sega's Game Gear, we venture into November 1990 with three more titles that continue checking off the obligatory boxes for a new game platform: Strategy, mahjong, and platformer.

Two of these games never made it to the U.S., continuing the precedent set by Pengo: Ultimately, a sizable percentage of Game Gear's library would fail to reach the States. Not that American kids were necessarily clamoring for a dense strategy title set in the Warring States era of Japan, or for a conversion of a tabletop game typically enjoyed by the elderly. They probably WERE clamoring for a great conversion of Wonder Boy, though! Too bad some of them never realized it was available right from the console's beginnings due to Sega of America's bizarre decision to rename Wonder Boy "Revenge of Drancon." Not to belabor a point, but... what?

Still, another convincing case for Game Gear's merits versus the competition as it hits on some nuts-and-bolts titles that demonstrate both capable technical performance and appealing visuals.

Special thanks to Stone Age Gamer for helping to make this series possible with their EverDrive-GG X7: https://stoneagegamer.com/everdrive-gg-x7-black.html

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Another Capcom creation this week. It's not quite up there with the company's best work, but you can see their collective spirit in action here—Gun.Smoke hits on a lot of popular Capcom beats all at once. It's a vertically scrolling shooter, themed around American pop culture (in this case, Western movies), whose home port contains a number of embellishments over the coin-op title to make it better suited for the NES. Despite the compromises it suffered in coming home, Gun.Smoke plays well on NES and makes a lasting impression, making it yet another top-flight creation for a valuable NES third party.

Special thanks to Steve Lin of the Video Game History Foundation for providing a look at the game's alternate packaging!

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.

Direct download: Gun.Smoke_retrospective__Wild_gunmen__NES_Works_073.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

This episode brings the recent run of NES Works Gaiden episodes to a head by being both massive, sprawling, and focused on a European creation. Whew.

The Aladdin Deck Enhancer is one of those NES tidbits that people have probably heard of but most likely only know through second-hand sources, such as The Angry Video Game Nerd. I don't know that I have much to add to the conversation, especially since the Aladdin has low compatibility with FPGA-based clone hardware, but by god, this was a patron request (from Joseph Wawzonek), and I am determined to give Video Works patrons their money's worth.

Honestly, this episode was a lot of fun to put together, despite its technical issues. A few of the games were definitely on the dicey side, but most were solid, and a few are good enough that I want to play them again sometime when I'm not simultaneously freebasing a dozen different unfamiliar games for an episode of a weekly video series.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


By patron request of Jon, it's our first (of likely a fair few) full look at a European exclusive for NES: Imagineer's impressive conversion of British microcomputer classic Elite. I won't even pretend to show off the full depth of the game here; it's a complex and intricate game that requires extensive play to master, whereas I struggle with not dying at the hands of marauders the instant I come out of warp in a system local to the game's starting point.

I may not be adept at this particular simulation, but I can recognize how impressive a conversion this is... even if the hardware REALLY wasn't designed for it.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.

Direct download: Elite20retrospective-20Space20odyssey207C20NES20Works20Gaiden202316.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 10:00am EST

A pair of games that share more in common than they might appear to at first glance. Power Racer traces its history back more than a decade: It's a portable conversion of an arcade dot-gobbler that predates Pac-Man by a year. That might not seem to have much to do with the Japan-only Painter Momopie, a game about a witch with a paint roller, but ultimately both these Game Boy releases belong to the same genre and do a great job of demonstrating the difference a decade made in how a specific type of game concept could be interpreted. These aren't the most beloved or best-known games on the system, but they're worth a look regardless.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


At last, the "metroidvania" concept begins to live up to its name. Metroid was on-point from the start, but Castlevania was slower to come around to the exploratory action-RPG concept. After the baby steps of the original Castlevania (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nealF8LlXxs) and Vampire Killer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoXEk_vegkc), Castlevania II felt like the first meaningful effort to turn the quest to stop Count Dracula into a proper adventure. It was also kind of a mess, but hey, like I said—baby steps.

Also in this episode, Compile gives us another interesting twist on the action-RPG with Golvellius. It's not really a metroidvania, but that's OK.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Halloween season is here once again, and you know what that means: Time for more Castlevania-themed NES Works videos. It's the Pumpkin Spice of retrogaming YouTube videos. This year, we're looking at the OTHER Castlevanias—that is, the other games that relay the exact same story as the original Castlevania (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nealF8LlXxs), tracking Simon Belmon's trek through Dracula's castle. All of these games cover the same narrative and gameplay beats.

Vampire Killer for MSX is in some ways the game most like Castlevania—it was produced in tandem with the NES game, using many of the same gameplay assets—yet also the least like it. So contradictory! Haunted Castle feels like the mutant version of the NES game. Not the kind of mutation that leads to super powers like the X-Men. The kind like when that guy falls in the toxic sludge in RoboCop. Super Castlevania IV—well, no need to belabor the point (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eXtQVjv3uE). And finally, Castlevania Chronicles, the final (and arguably) greatest exploration of Simon's journey. Mercilessly difficult, but so artfully crafted and filled with inventive moments that you can't help but want to keep dashing yourself helplessly against its proverbial rocks.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


While this isn't the end of our side excursions into the Atari 7800 chronology, it's the last for the time being. These four releases bring the console's lineup in line with the current state of NES Works (January 1988), and it would be a while before more games followed. Thankfully for the Atari faithful, the console's lineup with fatten up significantly in 1988 and ’89, but there's no getting around the fact that its slow start really hurt the system.

Also of note this episode: The final classic Namco conversion for 7800, and the first batch of (highly faithful) classic computer game adaptations.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Our second look at the Atari 7800's release chronology takes us through the initial launch lineup and to its first post-launch title. On the whole, though, this set of games shares a lot in common with the previous episodes: Very good renditions of pre-crash arcade classics, dropped upon the world a little after their sell-by date.

Don't let the unfortunate circumstances of the 7800's birth distract you, though; these are some excellent arcade conversions. A couple of them, most notably Food Fight, are arguably best-in-class caliber adaptations. You may notice some changes in how this video is edited and presented compared to other videos. I've steadily been tweaking my approach over the past few months, and I was fortunate enough to have a free weekend to burn through tinkering with a few different concepts. It's coming along nicely, though as always, it could still use a bit more fine-tuning.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Before I dive into NES Works 1988 in earnest, it's time for me to set right a historic wrong of sorts. NES Works/Game Boy Works/et al. have focused primarily on Nintendo's legacy, but that has always been more a function of my personal time and resource limitations than any slight to Nintendo's peers in the console space. Now that I've launched my long-overdue Lynx and Game Gear retrospectives, there's no getting around the fact that the core console space deserves the same treatment as handheld gaming. And so, we rewind time about 18 months to mid-1986 this week to begin looking at the early days of the Atari 7800, the first console out of the gates to compete with Nintendo's NES in the U.S. It had a slow start, to say the least—it will only take three episodes of this length to bring these 7800 retrospectives to January 1988 in line with the current NES chronology!

It's hard to see this early 7800 lineup as serious competition to the NES—these few games feel very much like relics of an earlier era. That's because they are, of course. They're the games that would have launched alongside the 7800 in 1984 had Jack Tramiel not put the console on ice for two years. Viewed through that lens, however, the 7800's initial offerings were fairly impressive, and even in 1986 these were the best home ports available for all four of these arcade classics. Was that really the most compelling sales pitch for kids who were already immersed in Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt? Absolutely not! But even if timing and market realities tripped it up right off the starting blocks, the 7800 deserves respect.

Special thanks goes to Kevin Bunch of  @Atari Archive  for the hard work he's invested into sorting out the actual chronology of 7800 releases by researching magazines and newspapers of the late ’80s, allowing us to pinpoint game launches to the month. His works is far more precise than the internet's existing 7800 release info, which is generally no more specific than by year... and often the wrong year at that.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


This episode is all about the number three: Our third Lynx retrospective, and the second of three for 1990, looking at third-party licensed titles for the year. Of which there were... four. Well, close enough.

Perhaps even more so than the first-party Atari conversions from last episode, these four games really show off the strengths of the Lynx as a platform. Not only are all four games solid and mostly faithful interpretations of coin-op hits, there are one or two that might well be the definitive home adaptations of those particular properties.

Under examination this episode: Namco's (well, GCC's) Ms. Pac-Man, Midway's Rampage and Xenophobe, and Tecmo's Rygar. An eclectic mix of old and (for the time) new. Which ones fare well and which ones fare awesomely? Only by watching this video in its entirety will you know for sure.

(Please do not be alarmed by the presence of a human face introducing each game. He means you no harm and is merely attempting to game the algorithm.)

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Coming on the heels of the NES's faithful home conversion of the not-so-faithful arcade localization of Kunio-kun/Renegade, we have Data East's almost-classic Karnov: The tale of a fire-breathing Russian strongman (who is actually dead) out to save the world from a dragon by toting around a ladder. A somewhat strange game in the Ghosts ’N Goblins/Wonder Boy II vein, Karnov doesn't quite hit the mark overall, but its NES conversion is surprisingly strong and includes a few welcome quality-of-life tweaks over the coin-op. As for localization, all we lost in the U.S. was the fact that main character Karnov was a big enough bastard in life to merit personal attention from the god of the Hebrews himself.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.

Direct download: Karnov20retrospective-20Rush20n20attack207C20NES20Works2023072.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

As 1990 winds down for Game Boy Works, it's only proper to explore the major competitor that entered the Japanese market that fall: Sega's Game Gear. Where Atari's Lynx was too poorly supported and too region-specific to pose a serious threat to Nintendo's handheld dominance, Game Gear arrived just as Sega began its meteoric 16-bit ascent in the west. And this trio of Japanese launch titles—a set of arcade conversions running the gamut in terms of original vintage and play styles—demonstrates a canny understanding of what made the handheld gaming market tick. It's a strong debut showing for Sega as they positioned themselves to attack Nintendo's grip on the games industry on two fronts at once.

Special thanks to Stone Age Gamer for helping to make this series possible with their EverDrive-GG X7: https://stoneagegamer.com/everdrive-gg-x7-black.html

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Ah, Game Boy: The system that ruled the world on the strength of both its portability and its support for multiplayer gaming. Remember Tetris? Remember Pokémon? Remember F-1 Race and its four-player adapter? So naturally, when Taito brought Bubble Bobble—a cooperative arcade game designed to be played (and only fully completed!) with a second player—to Game Boy, naturally they made heavy use of its link capabilities for teaming up with a friend, right? Uh... right?

Oh well. At the least the title screen music for this episode's import title rocks hard enough to make you forget your disappointment in Bubble Bobble.

And yes, this episode I've finally taken advice from years of drive-by commenters and have palced myself briefly on-camera. We'll see if putting a human face in there makes this series more personable or appealing or whatever to the average viewer. It seems unlikely that people actually want to see THIS particular face, but it's the best I can do to obey the rules of gaming YouTube without going full screamy-thumbnail.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Our first of third Lynx overviews for 1990 looks at the system's own home-brewed arcade legacy... well, sort of. Here, arcade titles by Atari Games (the game design company) make their way to a system distributed by Atari Corp. (the home computer company). Does the close connection between the two make for memorable coin-op conversions, or is Atari's post-crash selloff a rift that could never be repaired? Spoilers: It's the former.

These are some excellent handheld adaptations of several popular arcade releases from the late ’80s, performing at a technical level that far outstrips anything the Game Boy or Game Gear could manage. The one exception to this rule is the one arcade sequel (sort of) that was originally developed by Epyx as a completely different property. (It shows.)

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


I had intended to take a deep dive into the history of Mr. Driller once Mr. Driller 2 showed up in Game Boy Works Advance, but then Bandai Namco had to go and remaster the best game in the series before I got there. So I've jumped the gun a bit for this combination retrospective (of the franchise) and review (of Mr. Driller DrillLand). It's terribly self-indulgent and overlong, but I'm afraid that's just how it has to be.

Special thanks to GSK and Quintin Marcelino for their contributions to this episode, and to Bandai Namco for providing a review code of the U.S. release of DrillLand.


A second Double Dragon release for 1990 lands on Game Boy... except not really. In Japan, Double Dragon II was presented as an expanded remake of the original Renegade—which is to say, Kunio-kun's first adventure. Acclaim and Technos gave it a facelift for western release a year later, turning into a Double Dragon game in name if not in fact. Still, while this "sequel" lacks some fundamental essentials found in the arcade game, it does allow for simultaneous play—so that's something. Also this episode: An equally rocky Japan-exclusive conversion of German board game Scotland Yard.

Special thanks this episode to my nephew Speedy Playz for his help with the two-player video capture. Please subscribe to his channel and help encourage him as he learns to create his own video projects! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrBYYIWQIjrUV2-44L4vUdQ/


Game Boy wasn't the most powerful portable on the market back in the early ’90s—that was Atari's Lynx. Just what did Atari have to offer gamers in the place of international hits like Mario and Tetris? With this first Lynx-centric overview, we'll look at Nintendo's contemporary handheld competition and see what the most established name in gaming brought to the table for those who weren't content with murky green monochrome or portable platforms that could actually fit in a pocket.


Metroidvania games and action-RPGs are closely intertwined, and perhaps no developer had more influence on the shape and direction of action-RPGs like Nihon Falcom. This episode is devoted to their follow-ups to the original Dragon Slayer and Xanadu... as well as an all-new property that would become one of the company's best-loved works. Though not all the games here fall into the metroidvania category, it's hard to deny that style of game would look quiet different without all the essential work Falcom did here.


The metroidvania genre expanded greatly in 1987 as developers grew more confident in their design concepts and technology began to expand to accommodate their ambitions. Nintendo's Famicom/Disk System/NES platform proved to be especially fertile ground for innovation, as these three different takes on the format demonstrate. While you could arguably classify Zelda II, Rygar, and The Goonies II as action-RPGs, each one interprets that concept in unique ways. The one thing they have in common? They attempt to push the creative boundaries of the 2D platformer by shifting viewpoints and perspective at various times: Zelda II with an abstracted, Dragon Quest-inspired overworld view, Rygar with a Zelda II-style top-down action format, and The Goonies II with a first-person adventure mode.


The flip side of Midway's U.S.-oriented releases comes with one of the most unique games ever released for Nintendo 64 in Japan: Givro and Enix's Wonder Project J2. A simulation game of sorts, Wonder Project J2 tasks you with helping to rear a naïve robot girl named Josette, teaching her to become self-sufficient—and to integrate naturally into human society, while also helping to undermine the schemes of a military empire. That's a lot to ask for one waif, and her success is entirely up to you. Anyone who followed the N64 around the time of its launch remembers seeing this game plastered all over English-language magazines and websites, making it one of the best-known N64 titles to remain stranded in Japan.

Special thanks to "Ryu", whose excellent fan translation made this video possible! Check it out for yourself at https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1074/

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


A little bit of a sidebar between the genre's foundational works (that is, Castlevania and Metroid) and the major works ahead in 1987. These games are not critical contributors to the genre, but the ideas seen here speak to some solid instincts. We'll see more refined takes on these concepts further along, but for now, here are some noble efforts that don't quite nail it.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


N64 Works shifts into third gear—third-party gear, that is—with a pair of games that I am wholly unsuited to break down. So instead, this episode dives into the history surrounding them: The so-called N64 Dream Team, the checkered relationship between Nintendo and Mortal Kombat, and what this version of Trilogy says about the N64 when held side-by-side against the PlayStation release.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Finally! The Metroidvania Works series arrives at the games that lent the genre its name... or at least early entries in those games' franchises. Metroid brings us the first real taste of the exploratory action platformer, with a complex world that players unlock and explore by upgrading their hero(ine). Meanwhile, Vampire Killer on MSX adapts the NES classic Castlevania to a PC-style framework with (temporary) item collection and intra-stage exploration. And finally, Milon's Secret Castle applies the "search everywhere for invisible items" philosophy of mid ’80s action games to a contiguous, freely traveled world containing multiple self-contained stages. None of these are quite metroidvania games yet... but we're getting there.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


The metroidvania journey continues with a look at three more games from the mid ’80s that helped pave the way for the genre—none of which, notably, hail from U.S. developers. While the American games industry was reinventing itself in the wake of the Atari crash, British and Japanese developers steamed ahead full throttle with games that combined action, adventure, and exploration all at once, beginning with UK-based Ultimate Play-the-Game's influential isometric classic and ending with a gold-clad game that should require no further introduction to viewers of this channel...

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Nintendo publishes a football game, and an arcade hit comes to Game Boy after being filtered through the soupy green monochrome of the Amstrad CPC. They're not great! This is not fulfilling video game content! Let's hurry through and get along to the next. OK, thank you, please drive through.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


They say you have to walk before you can run, and in Game Boy Works, we need to slog through some mediocrity before we get to the good stuff. Neither of these games is terrible by any means; Battle Bull feels like an update to Sega's Pengo or Irem's Kickle Cubicle, while Navy Blue 90 is, y'know, Battleship. However, both end up being let down by some questionable creative choices and frustrating technical issues. Neither lives up to its real potential.


I've been taking a different approach to video production while we're all hunkered down for the pandemic. Some people cope with booze or by binge-watching; I cope by making videos about games I love. Case in point: Mega Man Legends for PlayStation, which is well outside the scope of Video Works... but I'm let it kite along in the slipstream of the recent NES Mega Man retrospective. It's an incredible game—a personal favorite. So, please: Just roll with it.


I said we'd be jumping over to N64 Works, and I meant it... it's just happening, uh, gradually. In this case, we're defining the shape of N64 by what N64 was missing: Specifically, one of the biggest and most popular games of the ’90s. One part historic overview of the business politics of the N64 era, one part look back at the compelling introductory design of Final Fantasy VII's opening chapter, you'd better believe this video was basically just an excuse for me to play a classic game from outside the bounds of the Video Works project in an effort to bolster my spirits during the age of social distancing.


This week's sequence break comes to you by a patron request from Joseph Wawzonek and courtesy of Steve Lin of the Video Game History foundation: A look at the highly coveted import-only collector's item Trip World for Game Boy. SunSoft's charming platformer commands a towering reputation for its quality and its unconventional nature, even if it does come off as slight. Here I explore the origins of the game, contemplate the creative aims behind its unique design, and delight in repeatedly pronouncing its protagonist's name. Thanks again to Joseph and Steve!


By patron request of Brian Larsen, here's something a little different: Rather than look at a single game, this episode takes a wider view of NES culture and fandom, and how fans of the platform have kept the NES alive and vibrant 25 years after its retirement. From the rise of emulation to modern clone platforms, NES devotees continue to make NES accessible and surprising, as this cursory overview explains.


NES Works 1987 ends as it began: With a cool game by Capcom. But let's be real. Mega Man is much cooler than Trojan. There's a reason one series had dozens of sequels and spinoffs and the other... didn't. Capcom's first wholly original creation for NES is one of the most inventive and highly polished games on NES to date, period. With a free stage select sequence, alternate special weapons, and imaginative bosses, Mega Man stands out as a brilliant capper to an incredible year for the NES. And just think: The franchise will only get better from here, as we'll see in NES Works 1989. In, uh, a few years.


Two final middling releases for 1987, one of which is based on a licensed property. Yeah, you can definitely see the future of the NES shaping up here. Neither Top Gun or BreakThru is the worst game we've seen, but neither can quite make up its mind as to what it wants to be. Is Top Gun a flight sim or an aerial combat game? Is BreakThru a side-scrolling platformer or a shooter? Rather than feeling like brilliant hybrids, these both just seem a bit muddled...


Following on from Gotcha!, LJN continues plying the same furrow with two more games based on film properties, developed by Atlus. (Or at least someone pretending to be Atlus, anyway.) Two out of LJN's three 1987 releases are pretty decent, if a bit thin in terms of content, and really only The Karate Kid hints at the kind of crap the company would make its stock in trade over the coming years. Jaws might even be considered genuinely good, if only it had been given a little more time in the oven to allow all its concepts to come together...


Data East (finally) serves up a pretty solid game in the form of Irem's Kid Niki: Radical Ninja, but the real story here is Gotcha!: The Sport. Not only is it the debut release from one of the NES's most questionable publishers, it also very much represents a specific moment in popular and political culture. Gotcha! was based on a movie and a toy line, and its publisher's fortunes were impacted by poor toy sales right as the national conversation began to focus on some unfortunate results from America's gun culture and the early days of the the police's move toward militarization. That's quite a lot to tie to a simple NES Zapper game...

Thanks to Steve Lin for lending the Kid Niki packaging to this endeavor!


While the NES was an improvement over previous console generations in most respects, not everything that showed up on Nintendo's system was a clear winner versus what had come before. Case in point, Super Pitfall: An update of sorts to Pitfall! II, except far, far worse. It's an ambitious reworking of an Atari 2600 classic, but "ambition" doesn't necessarily mean "quality." Another fine mess you've gotten us into, Micronics.


After an amazing summer and autumn for 1987, the NES is well into its year-end doldrums. Don't worry, we've got some bangers (as the kids say) lined up for the grand finale a few episodes from now, but for the moment it's all tepid, dated games that pale in comparison to superior takes on these genres that have been showing up of late. But please don't give up on NES Works just yet. Did I mention Mega Man is on the way? Because it is.


Konami's sixth release for 1987 is interesting in a few ways, not least of which is that NES publishers were supposedly limited to five releases per year. But when you're on fire the way Konami was in 1987, I suppose the rules get a little wobbly. The Goonies II bases its action very (very) loosely on the 1985 movie, but rather than just being some crappy licensed title (like we've seen with M.U.S.C.L.E. or Chubby Cherub), it's one of the most ambitious and complex NES titles to date. It's a bit opaque in the adventure scenes, but despite some parts that haven't aged well, it's... aged pretty well.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.

Direct download: 06320The20Goonies20II.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Nintendo's final release for 1987 is one for the ages: A conversion of minor arcade hit Punch-Out!! So how do you port a cutting-edge arcade game to a console that launched a year before the coin-op machine without losing its essence? If you're Nintendo, you create a fancy new microchip specifically for the task; you radically overhaul the game to emphasize precision and readability; and you enlist the support of the most popular athlete in the world. It's a combo that's hard to top—and the results were so strong that it still holds up even without the endorsement of Mike Tyson.

Special thanks once again to Steve Lin and the Video Game History Foundation (http://www.gamehistory.org) this episode!

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


By request of patron Joseph Wawzonek, this Gaiden episode dives into something that is neither game nor peripheral... it is both. And it is the best. It is... the Game Boy Camera. History's greatest video game gadget! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut, and even request your own episode topic! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


By request of patron Joseph Wawzonek, this Gaiden episode dives into something that is neither game nor peripheral... it is both. And it is the best. It is... the Game Boy Camera. History's greatest video game gadget! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut, and even request your own episode topic! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


After a few too many humdrum releases rounding out September 1987, October sees the NES back in proper fighting form with a string of games for the ages. First up, we have the dual debut of legendary developer Compile (under the auspices of FCI) with a pair of lesser-known classics that showcase the unique sensibilities and impressive skills for which the studio would become known.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


The first post-launch release for N64 proved to be as strong as its two day-one titles. Wave Race 64 arrived mere days after SingleTrac and Sony's Jet Moto, but it felt like a massive leap forward in terms of tech and fluidity. Nintendo's x-treme water racer maximized its sophisticated water programming, creating a series of physically and aesthetically varied tracks that felt like no other racing game before it—and while its frame rate and HUD haven't aged well, it's still a blast to play.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


SunSoft returns to NES with their first internally developed game for the U.S., though like this episode's back-up feature (Alpha Mission) the game in question (Spy Hunter) actually hails from the arcades. Neither of these vertical shooters offer much in the way of a compelling reason to play them, aside from a pretty good take on the Peter Gunn theme in Spy Hunter. Don't worry, though. SunSoft will get a lot better. And SNK.. will get a little better, at least on NES.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


NES Works continues (properly back in the year 1987 once again) with another pair of sports games. One is quite good, and the other... is not only kinda bad, but it also means lots of people are going to leave tired jokes about blowjobs here, because there's no 20-year-old Seanbaby joke that isn't made even better by being left as a drive-by YouTube comment.

I will say this for Ring King, though: At least it has an exhibition mode, which means I didn't actually have to play it while recording footage. Quite considerate of Data East, really. 

ideo Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Let's kick off the new year by looking at 2020's hottest NES release: A reissue of Irem classic Metal Storm by Retro-Bit Entertainment (and Castlemania Games, and Limited Run Games, and so on). While Metal Storm came out in U.S. back in the day, this rerelease is actually a new conversion of the Japanese game that shipped a year after America's cart and included some new features, including an introductory story cinematic, new difficulty settings, different color schemes for many graphics, and some handy built-in cheat codes. It's new! And old! It's good.

Special thanks to Retro-Bit for this review copy. Preorders for this new version of the game are still available at https://castlemaniagames.com/collections/frontpage/products/metalstorm-collectors-edition

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


Hmmm... another out-of-sequence video, though this one is vastly moreso than Tower of Druaga. Batman hit the U.S. two and a half years after our current point in NES Works (Feb 1990 vs. Sept. 1987). But this episode is by patron request as a Christmas gift for his wife, so how can ya say no to that? (You, too, can make similarly heartwarming requests as a video patron: http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) Two years clearly made a huge difference in terms of design, tech, and sophistication. Batman is a far cry from the kinds of games we've been looking at on NES Works. In fairness, it's one of the strongest NES releases from 1990, but the design skills and underlying tech boosts required for this game simply didn't exist in 1987.

The 1989 Batman film was a huge media event, and for many kids this detailed, challenging game (bursting as it was with excellent music and quirky but tight controls) was the highlight of that marketing blitz.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.

Direct download: Batman20retrospective-20Wayne20of20terror207C20NES20Works2023168.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

We're briefly jumping one month out of chronological order here in 1990, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 31, to look at a game that keeps showing up in Video Works: Namco's The Tower of Druaga. While admittedly it's the arcade game from 1984 and the Famicom port from 1985 that keep getting mention for their formative impact on Japanese games design, rather than this port from five or six hours later, this is a more or less direct conversion of the original... plus a few quality-of-life tweaks. Anyway, with this episode in the can, I don't have to explain The Tower of Druaga every time I reference it.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


The holiest of NES holy grails arrives this week: Stadium Events by Human Entertainment and Bandai. This game is worth relatively little in its European release, and has almost zero value in its reissued "World Class Track Meet" version. But stumble across the original U.S. release and you've basically paid for your retirement. Special thanks to Steve Lin for allowing me to include actual photography of this rarity here.

For contrast, the backup feature: Winter Games, a complete botch job of the PC sports classic by Epyx. It has no intrinsic value, either as a game or as a collector's item.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.


The second and third of Nintendo's first-party releases at the GBA's Japanese launch go under the microscope here as we examine F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (a reversion of the franchise to its original Super NES style) and Napoléon, AKA L'Aigle de Guerre (a real-time strategy game, sort of). By embracing the speediest and deepest of 16-bit genres, they help reinforce just what a big deal GBA was at the time of its launch—a proper home console experience on the go! That you could barely see. But hey. Details.

Video Works is funded through Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! And be sure to check out the Retronauts podcast (http://www.retronauts.com), where I (and many others!) tackle a much wider array of classic gaming topics each week.