By Paul Monaghan aka Mogz79
I know this is a bit different to other reviews but hopefully some of the members will find it interesting.
A while back I started a thread on the forum about the decline of social gaming. The reasons discussed were family, kids, jobs and also online gaming. My mission was to try and relive the carefree, fun and social aspect of gaming with friends back in the 90’s and the last Saturday night in April was the result.
Over the last few months I’ve really got back into my retro gaming and have now dragged one of my best friends Gregg into it also. So with my SNES and his N64, I was able to start planning a competition between 7 of us (myself, Ste, Gregg, Liam, Nick, Mark and Dan). With a 90’s music playlist on the Ipod (mainly old school rave) and some retro sweets and crisps to add to the night we were all raring to go at 7.30pm, our wives and girlfriends left to do whatever women do when we aren’t under their feet ;).
The first game of the evening was Street Fighter 2 (SNES). This game was one of the main reasons to buy a SNES rather than a Megadrive in the 90’s, as it was a while later until Megadrive owners were given the Championship Edition and Amiga and Atari ST owners were given…. a headache of disc swapping sadly! Extremely popular in the arcades it was a no brainer that the SNES release would be huge, I remember a friend buying a Japanese import for about £70 when it came out. I know there have been many versions of SF2 but I felt the original was the perfect way to kick off games night.
With an odd number of us it wasn’t as straight forward as simply matching ourselves up against each other, so I drew names out randomly ensuring we had two games each. With 3pts for an overall win (1pt if you won a round) it was a quick, frantic start to the night with one of the greatest games of the era. After us all having 2 fights each it was Mark and Dan to get the maximum 6pts, although luckily as the host I managed to scrape a win and also won a round to get off to what I thought would be a good start.
Next I opted for the colourful shoot em up, Pop N Twinbee (SNES) from Konami. I set this up as a simple, quick score challenge to try and get as many points as possible in 3 minutes without dying. The top 3 scores would get points towards the night’s total, 5pts for 1st, 3pts for 2nd 1pt for 3rd. The winner of this one was a joint win between Gregg and Dan, the pair of them sharing the highest score of 50200, which gave them 5pts each, Mark came 2nd and Nick came in 3rd place. I was on 70500 before forgetting to watch my health bar and therefore dying leaving me with a score of 0. Not many of us had played the game before, but it really is a great shooter and brought out the competitive streak in us all. This was only enhanced as the last few seconds ticked away! Pop N Twinbee can be bought cart only for under £10.
The third game was Micro Machines 2 (SNES), which took us back to head to head gaming. It was a great choice for some fast, energetic racing. Micro Machines used to be so popular when I was a kid and the games got great reviews when they came out, especially as the Megadrive version was a Jcart, only used for a few games and all by Codemasters (another reason that company was so great) This enabled extra controllers to be plugged into it, allowing more players to participate. After 2 races each, the winners of this were Liam and Nick, getting 6pts from 2 wins. Gregg, Mark and Dan came away with 3 pts from their one win, whilst Ste and I came away with 0pts.
Halfway through the night Dan had to leave as he had the Manchester run in the morning (some people just don’t have the commitment to retro 😉 ) Up to this point I wasn’t doing terribly well, my gaming skills getting worse in my old age it would seem! Sadly my luck wasn’t about to improve, as the next game was Goldeneye (N64). First Person Shooters really aren’t my thing and the controls on this seemed crazy no matter which type I used. In my opinion this game really helped launch the FPS genre and was a very popular movie license. Liam and Mark seemed to enjoy this game the most, having played it a lot back when it was released. Gregg and Mark emerged victorious with 6pts from 2 wins each, the rest of us having to make do with a couple of points for kills.
The fifth game was Super Smash TV (SNES), a classic from the arcade and a very early SNES game, a fast paced challenge to get the highest score before losing all your lives. The top 3 scores would get 5 pts, 3pts and 1 pt respectively. Anyone who’s played the game will know how quick you have to be playing this as enemies swarm onto the screen. This was a popular choice due to its pace and although a couple of the group had never played it, it’s very easy to just pick up and play.
Gregg annihilated us and took the 5pts after getting a hefty score of 785400, followed by Mark getting 3pts with a score of 34550 and Ste with 1pt from a score of 319750. At the end of the night, Gregg borrowed the game and has been keeping me updated on how he is improving, which doesn’t bode well for us during the next competition!
It was almost time to find out who would be champion of the night, but first there was one final game to play, Super Bomberman 2 (SNES), which was a great way to wrap up a games night with a fantastic multiplayer game, improved further by Gregg bringing his multitap. As only six of us were left it was 3 of us going up against each other making sure we all got 2 matches each, the winner from each round getting 3pts. Unsurprisingly, Gregg came away with wins in both his matches and yet again took the full 6pts with myself and Nick picking up 3pts each.
When I was younger Bomberman was always a popular series and was available on many consoles. Also known as Dyna Blaster it’s been on Amiga, Megadrive, SNES, PC Engine, PS1 among others yet it seems to have disappeared as a series at the time being.
That brought an end to the games, and it was to work out a league table to find the overall winner, which ended up as:
1st) Gregg – 26 points
2nd) Mark – 21 points
3rd) Dan – 14 points (despite leaving early, which makes future events worrying)
4th) Nick – 11 points
5th) Liam – 11 points
6th) Myself – 8 points
7th) Ste – 6 points
Gregg was announced as the winner, and he stepped forward to accept his trophy, which was a Golden Joystick! (Quickshot joystick, wire cut off and sprayed gold). Although it may be slightly cliché, it was the only logical way to end such a retro, fun filled games night. The trophy will be kept by the winner until the next games night, when it will be awarded to the new winner.
Hopefully I will be higher up the leader board next time, as my aim is to make this retro night Bi Monthly and I have already set the date of 29th June for my next one (I’d better get practicing!), where once again we’ll battle to win the retro night and take home the Golden Joystick.
You can find me the Retro Asylum forum under the alias Mogz79 or follow me on Twitter @pdmonpaul