Your Gaming Personality: Retro


This post is going to be primarily about the above game, Super Mutant Alien Assault, but will also reflect on other retro titles with similar design choices. The spin on personality fits me, and might fit many of you too, but your mileage may vary. 

If school has taught me one thing, it’s how to pull together an idea and give it some merit rather quickly. In a recent class I gave a written and visual presentation as to why I think it would be beneficial for my “company” to give funding to develop a mobile app, citing the ridiculous profit margins the gaming and social network industries have obtained. This company is fictional, of course, but something an executive might have to propose one day.  I managed to pull the writing portion off last week at the drop of a hat, and got my visual presentation in earlier this evening. It’s interesting how I can look at an assignment, and besides instantly wanting to avoid putting in the effort to complete the task, I find that I will formulate an idea quickly and then the pieces just fall together. Granted, this doesn’t have to be super technical or specific, and that’s my field of expertise.

Similarly, I think that the reason gaming is so difficult for one to pin down reasons why they enjoy it, or more specifically what kinds of games they enjoy comes down to a gaming personality. Many members of the blogosphere have posted test results or formulated their own opinions on the subject, myself included. However, I think there is a more philosophical way of looking at it, which I shall propose now.

The reason why games with a retro feel to them are successful isn’t necessarily because of the lower cost of entry — though stylized or pixellated graphic engines tend to be less costly to implement. I believe it comes down to a mechanical feel, something that you can’t really describe on paper. When playing a game like Super Mutant Alien Assault, or SMAA for short, you’re brain is recalling muscle memories from the past. It’s not only that retro visual appeal that is teasing your nostalgia sensors, no, your muscles are recoiling in joy because they remember exactly what they need to do. Finding that special mechanical feel is something that not all games can accomplish, and isn’t necessarily limited to retro styled games — look no further than Diablo for your prime example of a fluidity that is captivating.

Games were special when you initially started playing them. Each new experience was delicious, and you couldn’t get enough. This is part of the problem with today’s society, in that we get that head rush from having the extra money to blow on some desired possession. We want that new game and our dopamine sensors will love us for it — and look it’s on sale! — so of course we give in for that rush. Shortly thereafter, the rush is gone and we want it again. The cycle is on-going.

What’s next? Well, this is leading into a separate point that I don’t really want to get into, but the paragraph above is why I think gamers don’t really know what they want. Clamoring for certain features or mechanics and then once they have them they complain that it’s too similar to something else or not exactly what they wanted. Then they move onto a new game or new mechanic, chasing that purchase high, but also yearning for that muscle memory of old.

I probably sound like I’m on drugs at this point, but if you’re still with me, let’s finish this thought out. 

I purchased the game, SMAA because it was described as being “The Citizen Kane of Super Crate Box Clones,” and that’s direct from their Steam page. If you don’t know what Super Crate Box is, it’s an arcade styled retro game that is reminiscent of the original Mario Bros (Not Super Mario Bros) and made by Vlambeer, who are currently developing Nuclear Throne. It’s free on Steam, so you can download it for yourself. I had that original Mario Bros on my NES, and man I spent hours trying to get further and further in that game. It had no save points, it was truly “get as far as you can with the lives you have and good luck.” Technology wasn’t there for randomization though, and that’s what you get when you jump to Super Crate Box.

SMAA takes things a step further, giving the retro graphics a slight tune up (probably 16-bit) and keeps the action fast paced. Weapons are randomized just like in SCB, however there are additional features such as explosives, sidearms, and power ups. Enemies are unlocked as you progress and added in randomly, along with the levels being random. Some levels also have secondary goals besides killing everything, like carrying fuel to a location and dropping it off. Nothing too crazy, but it makes for a completely different experience each time. Having unlockables adds to the fun. Honestly, it’s that Mario game on steroids, and that’s fantastic for my gaming psyche.

Here’s some gameplay. You’ll notice I seem confused at times because it was literally the second run I made, and I was fumbling with the controls. Still, it’s a fantastic game and great for rogue-like and arcade fans alike.

Did I mention I love the soundtrack?

As I mentioned previously, I am still doing my daily runs and uploading them to YouTube. You’ll only see them on posts when I manage to write one, so you’ll have to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss anything!

Horrible start with Random Horror. Managed to keep it going but no health drops didn’t help anything. Got sniped.

State of the Game: Retroism


It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a State of the Game post, and it has to do with the fact that that series of posts I did about my Gamer To-Do List managed to encompass what I would have said. Doesn’t really matter what title you put on the post, if the content is the same it shouldn’t be repeated. At least, not without something new to add.

Anyway, the subtitle here is Retroism, and though I thought I was being clever and coining a term, a quick Google search will show you that I was dead wrong. There’s a service much like the bundle sites we all know and love called, so yeah, I was beaten to the punch. Either way, I have been on a retro gaming kick, be it true retro games or those styled as such or even just in game play mechanics. I think it was a combination of talking about some of my favorite PSOne games, playing a bunch of Nuclear Throne for the last couple of months, along with having purchased some games that are retro-inspired and then playing some remakes in recent months. Playing games that are updated from their past versions, compilations of old classics, or new indie titles that are clearly throwbacks to the 8 and 16 bit generations are great fun, and in some ways I am feeling like there are some superior experiences in older titles. Some that deserve a brand new sequel or envisioning too. We talked about much of this during the new Couch Podtatoes episode, though I’ll be touching on different games here.

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I’ve mentioned Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection a few times in the past, mainly because the Genesis was one of my favorite systems of all time and the collection contains many of my old favorites. Lately I had been craving an old school RPG experience, and though I’ve played those old 16-bit titles many times throughout the years, I still wanted to play Shining Force again. I mentioned it is one of my Evergreen games, and I meant that. I started playing it a couple of weeks ago again, and it’s been a blast. I can also say that it’s been long enough since the last time I played it (probably via Wii Ware) that there’s parts I’ve forgotten and so it’s been a fun playthrough. I’m almost done with it, and I intend to play its sequel as well.


I played Columns the other night too, and I was breaking the game. I had to let myself lose shortly after taking this picture because it wasn’t getting anymore challenging. I remember the game being more difficult when I was a kid. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is definitely more challenging in comparison.

As I mentioned, I played through the Gears of War remake with my friend, but I also got to check on the Rare Replay that had been announced back at E3. It’s a collection of 30 games from the now defunct publisher Rare. Honestly, it’s not a compilation that I would have bought, as sampling a handful of the games lead me to this conclusion. Battletoads is still remarkably hard and poorly designed. RC Pro-Am was a game I loved but is plagued by being developed for an 8-bit system (NES) with limited graphical and audio capabilities. It’s sequel fairs little better. Most of the titles were released on Nintendo or Microsoft platforms, both of which I didn’t really own during their development run, so I had no real fondness for anything included. I may sound biased here, but I simply enjoyed more games on the Genesis collection, and the same goes for other compilations of old Midway or Atari games. Rare just wasn’t a company that did it for me.

I’ve also been playing a bunch of Nuclear Throne, and though I haven’t been posting daily anymore (I managed 46 days in a row counting the tail end of July through Sept 12th) I am still doing the Daily Runs and have been enjoying it. I am still posting the videos to YouTube, so if you’ve enjoyed those, head over to my channel and subscribe so you don’t miss a video if I happen to skip posting. I’m falling back into my old pattern of posting several times a week but not every day. Some days there just isn’t anything to say, I didn’t game much, there’s no news, and I don’t want to force out content just for the sake of content. However, I’m going to try and keep as close to daily posting as possible, so you can still expect regular content to read. I just reserve the right to not post if I don’t feel like it. It’s not a question of whether or not I can post daily, rather a question of feeling like it or having something worthwhile to share. So yeah, Nuclear Throne videos daily on YouTube. Here’s today’s run:

I’ve had several new pickups lately, and they’ve been solely free games or super cheap on Steam. Stuff from the Weeklong Deals that post on Mondays is typically a bunch of crap, but there are hidden gems sometimes, and I’ve found a few. The other day Steam gave everyone a free copy of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and I’ve heard good things about the title, but I have yet to play it. Origin on the other hand, gave away Command and Conquer Red Alert 2 + an expansion. I haven’t played it yet either (nor did I play it back in 2000 or so when it released) but I’m looking forward to trying out a classic RTS to keep up with this whole retro thing I’ve had going. One of the games that I picked up this past week for a whopping $0.15 is called Terra Incognita, and though it’s in early access it looks like a PSOne JRPG and those have always been pretty enjoyable. Hoping for good things from this one.

So that’s about it for this edition. Time to go play something.

This is not a Post, It’s a Sandwich.

Kudos for those of you who get the reference in this title of this post. 

This isn’t so much of a post in that I’m not in the mood to write, don’t really have a lot to talk about at the moment, and haven’t been playing anything really outside of D3, Shining Force and Nuclear Throne. The Shining Force bit I will probably talk about more after I complete the game, which shouldn’t be too much longer. Still, trying to keep up with this whole writing every day thing, along with attempting to keep up on the Nuclear Throne daily videos. With that said, some days you need some time off, and though I sat around all day doing basically nothing, I still didn’t have anything pop up that I needed to write about.

However, I did play some Awesomenauts last night and had a stellar game as Leon, and thought I’d share the replay (which I just found out enables you to convert your replays into videos you can share, though the process takes longer than if you were to use an external recorder). So here’s that, and you’ll still get the Nuclear Throne daily run video to boot.

I’m thinking I might start doing voice commentary over the daily runs so that it’s maybe more interesting. Also been thinking of doing some let’s play type stuff but I don’t have the most fantastic of editing tools so I’m not sure how far I’ll go with that. We’ll see soon enough.

Stuck with random plant again. Seems like I was doing pretty well, but died on 4-1. Feels like every death is so dumb and preventable when I watch these!

A Daily + A Poll

I didn’t play much of anything yesterday, so I don’t have further updates towards my ongoing sagas in Diablo III or Everquest II. As I said at the end of last month/beginning of this month, I am trying to see how long I can keep up the daily posting here, on my other blog, and doing the Nuclear Throne daily runs. However, on slow news days where there isn’t a hot button issue to talk about, and when I don’t have game progress to share, or otherwise can’t come up with something better to talk about, I will be blabbing on about random things and then posting the daily run video.

With that said, I do have another brief topic I’d like to go over, or rather a poll. Basically it’s been about a month and a half since I opened my photo blog, The Digital Backwoods. Traffic isn’t spectacular but it is steady and I have had some feedback here and there, along with a number of guest submissions. It feels like my effort to put it together was worth it at this point. I’m just curious, since stats don’t really tell the story, if you have actually visited the site, if you visit regularly, and if you have actually used any of the shots as wallpapers for your PC. Here’s the poll, and any further commentary is welcome in the comments section!

A good start doesn’t always mean a strong finish. Foiled again on Lil Hunter’s level, this time as Crystal. I had meant to use the random choice again but it was too late by the time I remembered.

Daily Run #21

I don’t really have much to post about today, because as I mentioned yesterday I just got back into town and to be honest I haven’t gamed at all today. I did play Diablo III for a little while last night, so my hardcore season 4 Wizard is at level 20. I want to get back into leveling in some of the MMOs I’ve been playing recently, and another new Awesomenauts patch dropped with a new character, so that makes me want to play the game (I haven’t played on the PC since the last new character came out a couple months ago). There’s been new patches or updates for a number of games that I play recently, so I do have enough material to keep this daily posting thing going for a while. But like Belghast himself, I might have to stray into other forms of media or even real life to do so. Not that that’s really out of the ordinary around here anyway, but just giving a fair warning nonetheless. I have noticed a nice spike of traffic for the past month, which is probably a direct correlation to Blaugust, but I’m curious to see if I stick with it, if it ends up being more just because of writing daily posts and not directly related to the event. Time will tell I suppose.

Oh yeah, and as a result of finishing Blaugust for the 2nd year in a row, my sidebar has been updated with the newest badge:
Anyway, here’s my newest Nuclear Throne daily run for your viewing pleasure:

Took up a run with Crystal, and am pissed about how I died. As far as I knew I had death prevent on, but apparently not or I missed when it saved me prior to actually dying. Either way, a health pack timed out right as I was getting to it, and I was charged by a crystal monster on world 4.