This month, SourceGaming‘s on-going translations of the Super Smash Bros. Melee website have provided insight into a whole host of aspects from the design process of what has come to be one of the most beloved fighting games of all time, straight from the mouth of director Masahiro Sakurai and his co-workers. In particular, their eight part translation of a developer roundtable focusing on Melee‘s soundtrack, which touches on everything from music recording to song selection, provides some great insight into one of the game’s most iconic elements. The roundtable’s translation is approaching its completion – I recommend checking out the first part of the series and working your way through, although the most recent entry, which focuses on the recording of the DK Rap, is worth a look for the bizarre tale of Sakurai’s encounter with a very tall man who puts a lot of milk in his coffee alone.
Other noteworthy offerings this month include a very detailed and comprehensive three part analysis of the various development wings of Nintendo in the run-up to the unveiling of the mysterious ‘NX’ console. It takes a look at various studios and departments, including second and third-party studios, offering some well-researched and justified analysis as opposed to baseless speculation. Also worth checking out is this month’s translation of Sakurai’s Famitsu column – it touches on the bizarre topic of the Shigesato Itoi-led expedition to discover shogunate treasure, which is always a treat to read about!
It’s hard for me to highlight just a few of the items featured on Attract Mode this month, because all of it requires your attention. A bizarre Kaneko-developed arcade puzzle game based on (well, perhaps ‘loosely inspired by’ would be a better descriptor in this case…) the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, aptly titled The Berlin Wall, caught my eye for its sheer conceptual absurdity, but despite some potential sensitivity regarding such a light-handed take on a major event in world history, there’s something undeniably charming about the game’s style, not to mention the fact that it exists in the first place.
A look at the shady yet fascinating 80s pirate gaming scene in New York’s Chinatown piqued my interest, giving us a taste not only of the intriguing methods used to produce cheap counterfeit games back in the day, but the urban culture that surrounded them. On a more artistic but equally as compelling note, this slightly eerie Dreamcast GIF is bound to invoke some feelings of unsettled VHS nostalgia – and yes, despite my age (and how often us whippersnappers get asked), I do know what a VHS tape is – back in the day, it was the only way I could get my Beyblade fix.
Game Freak’s eccentric horse racing-solitaire mashup Pocket Card Jockey came as something of a surprise to all those who recently picked it up following a surprising western release – for the most part, due to the fact that it’s really damn good. However, the game’s seemingly basic premise and lighthearted aesthetic conceal the the true fact that this is a title that isn’t forgiving in the slightest, perhaps even as cruel as the real sport of horse racing (OK, maybe not – this isn’t real, for starters).
With high penalties for failure and a taxing difficulty level as the game progresses, it comes as a real relief to see that Bryan Ochalla of The Gay Gamer has compiled a useful guide of tips, tricks and strategies to help keep you in pole position throughout your jockeying career (is pole position what they use in horse racing? Horse racing enthusiasts, please feel free to correct me!). Bryan has mentioned that he’s interested to hear other people’s favourite strategies for bringing home the gold (again, I know next to nothing about horse racing, so don’t judge me for my lack of lingo!), so if you think you know the best route to victory, make sure you leave a comment!
I have unlimited respect for Bryan as a fellow appreciator of good video game box art, something regular readers will know I’m a total sucker for. This month, as part of his regular ‘Nice Package’ feature, he took a look at the cover and manual artwork of the PC Engine version of Namco’s Valkyrie no Densetsu – this post serves as a reminder of how PC Engine HuCards can look as cool as even the nicest cartridge.