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Comedian Adam Blank and his guests reminisce about their favourite retro video games


I say it almost every episode, but I'm really excited to talk about this week's game. Donkey Kong Country is easily on  "10 favourite games of all-time" list. It's a masterpiece.
Donkey Kong Country is just one of those games that everybody has played. It's one of the best selling video games in history, and at one point it was even been packaged with the Super Nintendo itself. At a time when people were looking at the Sega Genesis and it's graphical capabilities, this game was the SNES's way of pushing back. It's absolutely gorgeous, and as far as I'm concerned it looks as good today as it did twenty-five years ago. 
I've said it a million times, but Super Mario World is my favourite game ever. I think it's literally the perfect video game. Donkey Kong Country is just as good. Frankly, it looks better and it has better music than Mario does. The 16-bit era of video games is still the golden age in this old timer's mind, and this game is one of the crown jewels of that generation. I don't even know what to say about, I just love it that much. 
I've beaten this game a million times, and I find myself going back to it again and again. The gameplay is tight, it's fun to play, it's perfect. It introduced us to Diddy Kong, and it showed the world why Cranky Kong (who's the original Donkey Kong, FYI) is the best character in gaming history. 
And we got Funky Kong. And Donkey Kong is a boss. King K Rool is a dope villain. The mine cart levels! Shooting from barrel to barrel! In a blizzard!! You can ride a swordfish! So damned good.
Games like Donkey Kong Country are why I started this podcast in the first place. I have so many great memories of playing it as a kid. And this week, my buddy Henry came by to listen to me talk about some of them. He had a few of his own too. Great game, great guest, great episode. Check it out.
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Spider-Man is my favourite superhero. Even if you ignore all of the "he's a normal guy trying to do the right thing/with great power comes great responsibility" stuff and just focus on superpowers, the guy is sick. Climbing walls, super strength, agility, and of course, web-slinging. He seems like he'd be perfect for video games. And unfortunately, that wasn't really the case for a long time. Then came Spider-Man for the PlayStation.

Developed by Neversoft, Spider-Man initially released on the PlayStation in the summer of 2000. It later found it's way onto the Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast, but for me and most my friends, this game's practically a PlayStation exclusive. It's one of the games I most wanted to see on the PS Classic last year - although I didn't expect it because of licensing and the fact that the PS Classic is garbage - and aside from Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, and the Tony Hawk series, it's one of the titles I most associate with Sony's first foray into the console world. 

(On a side note, Neversoft developed the Tony Hawk games along with Spider-Man. That's a pretty sick track record)

You (obviously) play the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. You fight bad guys, climb walls, and yep, web-sling around New York. Kind of. Doctor Octopus and Carnage release a fog across the city, and it blocks out the lower half of New York for the duration of the game. Obviously a way to work within the limitations of the PlayStation's hardware capabilities (I assume anyway), you web-sling along the skyline of the city without ever seeing the streets, traffic, and people. It actually works really well, and doesn't take away from the game.

Where this game truly shines, in my opinion, is it's story. It absolutely captures the feel of the modern Marvel movies, and the roster of characters that make appearances in Spider-Man is INSANE! Spider-Man, Venom (my other favourite. And they team up, which is the best!), Punisher, Captain America, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, Carnage, Human Torch, Daredevil, Rhino; the list goes on and on. Stan Lee even shows up! I say it during the podcast this week, but nothing makes me happier than when I see a game developer truly cares, and it's obvious while playing this game that Neversoft set out to make something special. And they succeeded. 

An original story, incredible gameplay and graphics, and a little TLC, Spider-Man has it all. My buddy Tyler and I had a great time talking about one of the stand out (and occasionally forgotten) gems on the PlayStation. It's all about Spider-Man this week on 'Remember The Game?'!

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It's WrestleMania week! This is like the Stanley Cup Finals/World Series/Super Bowl for wrestling fans, so I figured it was the right time to jump back into the world of wrasslin' video games. We've already covered the iconic WWF: No Mercy, and it's dimwitted cousin WWF Attitude. This week, we leaping forward to the Playstation 2 and another of the most beloved wrestling games of all-time; WWE SmackDown! Here Comes The Pain...
Featuring the cover athlete BROOOOOCCKKKK.....LESSSSSSNAAAAARRRRRR! (That's for you current WWE fans)
I won't lie, my heart belongs to the Nintendo 64 when it comes to wrestling games. Not just No Mercy, either. All the THQ games from that system (going back as far as WCW World Tour), stole countless hours from my childhood. They may not have had the deepest career modes of all-time, but the controls were perfect, and the multiplayer was legendary. I loved those games. I bought the first couple SmackDown! titles when they released on the original PlayStation, but they didn't hook me in the same way. Once the SmackDown series made it's leap to the PlayStation 2, it really hit it's stride. Shut Your Mouth was pretty good, but Here Comes the Pain is - in my opinion - the definitive title of the PS2, the SmackDown series, and early 2000's pro wrestling.
It really played a big role in shifting the wrestling video game genre toward a more simulation style game, being able to work on specific body parts during a match and seeing the damage that has been done to each leg, arm, etc. It pumped steroids into the THQ grapple engine everyone knew and loved.  It really took the gameplay to the next level, and aside from the obvious graphical enhancements, I remember this feeling like the first game that was taking full advantage of a more powerful console (the PS2 as opposed to the original PlayStation). 
I love the career mode in this game, too. I like the tight menu, no walking around. You pick what you want to do between matches, and it happens. Its the KISS method - Keep It Simple, Stupid. It also introduced the Elimination Chamber to video games, and I found that as fun as I did ladder matches when they were first introduced back in WWF No Mercy. It was the first time bra and panties matches were playable too, but, yeah...
It has a great roster, plucked from a great time in pro wrestling. Tight controls, great graphics, fun career mode, Here Comes The Pain checks all the right boxes. I haven't played it in a long time, but doing a little homework for this episode brought back a lot of great memories. This is unquestionably one of the crown jewels of the wrestling video game library, and my buddy Andre joined me this week to help explain why. 
Enjoy the podcast, and enjoy WrestleMania, fellow nerds. It's still real to me dammit.
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What can I possibly say about The Legend of Zelda that hasn't already been said?

It's one of the most influential and iconic games of all-time. It launched one of the greatest franchises in the history of the industry. It's an absolutely masterpiece that - for my money - is as enjoyable today as it was over THIRTY years ago. It might even be better now, because the internet is around to help you. 
I didn't play this much as a kid. It wasn't until A Link to the Past that I really discovered the greatness that is The Legend of Zelda franchise. I finally went back and played through it from beginning to end earlier this year, and I've been jonesing to talk about it ever since. I think it says a ton about this game when literally every thing it did has been improved upon in different games over the years, but it's still a blast to play. It's legendary.
This might be the shortest podcast post I've written so far, but I just don't know what else to say. My buddy David Rae is my guest this week, and we spend almost 50 minutes talking about gaming royalty. It's all about The Legend of Zelda this time around. Enjoy!
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StarTropics is the little game that almost could. Developed by Nintendo of America and released exclusively in North America and Europe (most NES games made their way to North America after being released in Japan), this game gets an awful lot right. And the stuff is gets wrong can be overlooked or chalked up to system limitations and industry standards in the late 80's.
The game stars some guy named Mike, and he travels from tropical island to tropical island (and eventually to spaceship, because video games) in search of his missing Uncle. Each "level" is a cave/temple that you have to find your way out of, battling enemies with yo-yos and baseball equipment. The strict "grid" movement (left/right/up/down one space at a time) can be frustrating, but the puzzle solving and exploration in the caves make up for it. Most of the time, anyway. It starts off pretty simple, but by the third or fourth level, this game gets viciously difficult. And a little cheap. It's still hella fun, though.
This is one of those games I never owned as a kid, but I have fond memories of playing anyways. I had a friend that lived across the street from me, and he owned it. I'd go over to play games with him and we'd spend hours dying on the same boss (that God damned fire guy). But we kept coming back for more. Something about this game just hooks you. As frustrating as it can be, it really is fun to play. 
It also shipped with a letter (an actual physical, piece of paper letter), that had to be dipped in water to reveal a secret code necessary to finish the game. It might sound hokey in 2019, but in the early 90's, that was some crazy innovation! My friend and I never had that paper, but luckily for us we never got that far in the game, so it didn't matter. 
StarTropics is a beauty, and it just released on Nintendo's Switch Online Service. If you haven't played it, I strongly recommend giving it a shot. But not until after you listen to my buddy Chris and I talk about it for half an hour on this week's podcast!
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In early 2001, the Nintendo 64 was running out of gas. The Playstation was in full swing, and Nintendo was looking vulnerable for the first time. Their new console, the Gamecube, was only months away. The 64 was about to be left behind. But before that happened, it had one last hurrah. And that hurrah was a gorgeous RPG called Paper Mario
Not officially a "sequel" to the beloved Super Mario RPG on the SNES, Paper Mario was our favourite plumbers second foray into the world of role-playing game. Borrowing some elements from it's 16-bit cousin - timed hits/defending in combat and top shelf writing, to name a couple - Paper Mario managed to hold onto the Nintendo charm and approachability, while still remaining a deep, competitive RPG.
The combat system isn't simply a matter of tapping "A" and coasting through battles. Attacking in this game requires some form of action if you want to cause maximum damage. Little things like tapping a button at the right time or pulling the joystick to the left and then swinging it to the right help break up the monotony of combat that a lot of RPGS struggle with. Each battle feel fresh and fun.
Your attacks do various types of damage to your opponents, too. In a standard Mario game, you have to jump on a Koopa Troopa before you can pick it up and use it. They managed to transition that style of gameplay into RPG combat with Paper Mario. It's an RPG that still feels a lot like a platformer/action game. There's also NO RANDOM ENCOUNTERS!!!!! How all RPGS haven't adapted that approach by now is a frustrating mystery that may never be solved. Ugh.
This game is charming, gorgeous, and it's a blast to play. The writing is clever and funny. The paper art style looks great, even by today's standards. I feel that games from the 64-bit era haven't aged well cosmetically, but this game looks as good today as it did eighteen years ago. And the most important thing, in my opinion, is that it's just as fun now as it was when it launched. If Nintendo ever does release a Nintendo 64 Classic, I'd buy one just to play this game again. It's that good. 
My buddy Mark McCue agrees. He's my guest on the podcast this week, and damned if we didn't have a hell of a time revisiting Paper Mario. I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did. 
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When you think of platformers, Super Mario Bros jumps to mind as the most influential to the genre. First Person Shooters, that nod might go to Wolfenstein or Doom. And when you get into the world of horror video games, the undisputed king is the Playstation classic, Resident Evil
Admittedly, I'm a wuss when it comes to horror and scary things. I don't watch a lot of the movies, and I haven't played many of the video games. My first experience with the Resident Evil franchise was Resident Evil 4 on the Gamecube. I adored it. And it made me want to go back and try some of it's predecessors. When I finally got a chance to play the game that started it all, I was....underwhelmed. 
However, in retrospect, Resident Evil deserves a lot of credit. You can certainly criticize the control scheme and the God awful voice acting (although I think the cheesy voice acting adds to the game, like a bad 80's horror movie), but what you can't deny is that this game defined a genre. Capcom did something new with Resident Evil. They tried to take a horror movie that you'd see in a theatre, and make it into a video game. The Playstation had the technical capabilities to do what the 16-bit era consoles couldn't, and the end result is a game that may be laughable today, but was revolutionary and down-right scary in it's prime. The franchise has gone on to become one of the most famous in gaming, spawning countless video games and several films, and horror games like Outlast, The Evil Within, and (my personal favourite) Dead Space, owe a great debt to Resident Evil
Like I said, the horror genre in gaming isn't my forte. But my buddy Tyler knows this game like the back of his hand. He's my guest this week, and we had a blast remembering the crazy, campy, crappy controlling world of Resident Evil.
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For my money, there may not be a game in the NES library (at least, not without "Mario" in the title) that has aged better than the masterpiece that is Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!

Punch Out!! was one of the first sports video games to really nail it. The controls are snare drum tight, the graphics are still gorgeous today, and the gameplay mechanics strike a perfect balance between "simulation-y" and "arcade-ish". Aspects like stamina that depletes as you get punched and have your strikes blocked makes it feel like you're in a real boxing match, but at the same time the idea of your opponent teleporting around the ring while he throws punches at you reminds you that this is still a video game. It's a magical combination that works splendidly. And it makes it's insane difficulty tolerable.

Because make no mistake - this game is hard. Like, really hard. Mike Tyson is considered one of the most difficult "final bosses" in the history of gaming, and that's assuming you can even get to him. I never have. In classic Nintendo style, the first few levels (opponents) are pretty easy, slowly introducing new game mechanics and teaching you everything you need to know. But once the difficulty starts to ramp up, it punches you right in the face. Because it's a boxing game, you get it? 

I've always preferred the Super Nintendo sequel to this game, but after spending some serious time with Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! in preparation for this podcast, I've remembered what an absolute classic it is. It's as fun to play in 2019 as it was in 1987, and it deserves it's spot alongside the Mario Bros, Castlevanias and Mega Mans on the list of the greatest games in the NES's legendary library. 

My pal and fellow NES junkie David Rae returns to the show this week, and damned if we didn't spend almost hour talking about how we couldn't beat Mike Tyson. Enjoy the podcast!

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Pro wrestling is probably the only thing on the planet on par with retro video games when it comes to making me feel nostalgic. Being a teenager during the Monday Night Wars and the Attitude Era was something special. If you liked wrestling in those days (and who didn't?), you know what I'm saying. Combine the Attitude Era with the Playstation and the Nintendo 64, and you have nostalgia overload. 

Enter WWF Attitude.

When people talk wrestling games from the 90's and early 2000's, the instant focus falls on THQ. WCW/nWo Revenge, Wrestlemania 2000, and of course, WWF No Mercy are all absolutely incredible. But before the WWF got in bed with THQ, Akklaim was in charge of bringing Stone Cold and friends into the world of video games. And while WWF Attitude doesn't have anything close to the legacy WWF No Mercy (or even SmackDown does), it doesn't deserve to be overlooked like it usually is.

A lot of features that are common place in wrestling games today began with WWF Attitude. Things like super deep rosters, in depth create a wrestler, and even the ability to create an event all started with this game. While the THQ titles were taking the game in an "easy to approach and simple to control" direction, Akklaim focused on trying to make their wrestling games a more complicated, simulation type of experience. And while it's easy to look back on some of their decisions and laugh - and believe me, we do on the podcast this week - I think the powers that be behind this game deserve a little bit of credit for trying something different. It may not have worked all that well, but they helped lay the groundwork for what wrestling games would become. 

My guest this week is fellow wrestling nerd and podcast host Kyle Shaw, and we had a great time sharing stories about not only playing video games, but watching wrestling as well. Enjoy the podcast!

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In an era filled with weird animal heroes like the Battletoads, Samurai Pizza Cats, Bucky O'Hare and Biker Mice from Mars, Earthworm Jim still managed to stand out. His video games are hilarious, and the original game launched a franchise that went on to produce an animated series, comic books, and action figures, along with several video game sequels, as well. 
Whenever I hear the word "groovy", I can't help but think of Earthworm Jim. It's funny, because I don't remember when I discovered the franchise, just like I can't remember when it all disappeared. But there was definitely a time in the 90's where Earthworm Jim could do no wrong. his entire universe was fantastic, propelled by an insane cast of characters that included Queen-Slug-For-A-Butt, a Killer Goldfish named Bob, and of course, Peter Puppy. The characters transitioned perfectly between television and video game. Possibly more than any game before it, Earthworm Jim felt like you were playing a Saturday morning cartoon.
A very difficult Saturday morning cartoon. These games are vicious. I replayed this one quite a bit in preparation for this podcast, and hardly got anywhere. I think some criticism of the controls is warranted, but I still myself wanting to play some more. This game is from the era of "practice makes perfect". If you wanted to beat it, all you had to do was play it enough to get good. It didn't hold hands, and it rewarded skill. 
Did I mention it was funny? I did? Well, I'll say it again. This game is hilarious. There's a level where you go to Hell and the bad guys consist of lawyers. Evil crows try to pull Jim out of his suit, reminding you that at the end of the day, he's just an earthworm. You're trying to save Princess What's Her Name? Really, that's what she's called. 
Jim steals the show. He uses his own body as weapon, a hand while he hangs from clotheslines, and a jump rope when he's bored. This game is one of the first I can remember playing that legitimately made me laugh while I stared at the screen. This game is a beauty. It's too bad the franchise doesn't get more love today. 
My buddy Patrick is back on the show this week, and we had a great time remembering the Grooviest hero in gaming; Earthworm Jim.
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