3 Count Bout Marquee

Can you Survive a 3-Count Bout of Wrestling?

Pro-Wrestling is no stranger to the world of video games. Most formats find themselves hosting a number of games that grapple with men in tights. SNK’s Neo Geo settled on just the one human-powered wrestling title, 3 Count Bout (Fire Suplex in Japan). Released in 1993 to arcades and the home, this was a game that really knew how to play the hype game!

The Flames of Battle Dance in the Ring!

Seriously, who doesn’t want to play a game with a tagline as poetic as that found in the advertising? The FLAMES OF BATTLE, in a wrestling game!

3 Count Bout Wrestling

Not all of the hype sounded as good, but it was certainly bullish. Can you survive the Ultimate Battle? Steady now!

10 wrestlers, each equipped with Power Attacks and Malevolent Moves rage in the ring. Biting, kicking and punching their way to the top spot.

Biting?? What’s next? Oh yes, the wrestlers:

Wrestlers who wrestle

More Wrestlers Wrestling

You can’t have a wrestling game without some really cool fighter names. Blubber Man! The Red Dragon!! And Terry Rogers. They can’t all be winners.

Unless you supplement their wrestler names with suitable descriptions. Hot Gentleman, the Human B-52 and the Wild-Maned Maniac all sound like they mean business.

Fire Suplex Wrestling

These ‘warriors of the ring’ can be found only on the Neo Geo as the game was never ported. Take a look at The Red Dragon in action below:

Sadly the SNK Wrestling Federation (SWF) is no longer hosting matches.

This post continues a new series from me:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming.

The Future of Baseball is nearly upon us!

I don’t really like ‘real’ Baseball as a sport. Playing it can be fun, but the need to follow so many rules can really make it drag out.

That said, I am hugely excited about the game because I have seen its future. In only three years time – in 2020 – you’ll be seeing male, female and robotic players in the field!

Yes, the future of baseball is almost here!

The Future of Baseball is here

In the world of Super Baseball 2020, robots jostle with human players in the Cyber Egg Stadium. To properly complete, human competitors can be equipped with powerful armour, computer sensors, and jet-packs for improved offence and defensive skills. Jet-packs!

Even the commentators are going to look cool!

Wait? What the hell is that robot? That one looks hostile! Those glowing red eyes suggest that baseball might only be the start of the robot revolution.

Super Baseball 2020 by Marc Ericksen

The image above, the one with the evil robot, can be found on the website of artist Marc Ericksen. Marc was asked to create the piece for Electronic Arts in 1994 after they had seen an earlier work created for GamePro magazine around a Japanese baseball game called Bases Loaded II: Second Season.

As you’ll see from this fantastic artwork, the future might actually involve laser swords instead of bats. You need this sort of kit if you’re going to be hitting balls thrown at light-speed by robots.

Bases Loaded II: Second Season by Marc Ericksen

Experience the future, in Super Baseball 2020, on the Neo Geo, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. You can see a great comparison video over on the Retro Core Youtube channel.

The side-by-side comparisons from around 10 minutes into the video are a great way to get a glimpse of the future.

This post marks the start of a new series from me:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming. Catchy, right?

Have you played Cannon Fodder in Color?

War has never been so much fun.

That’s a controversial way to start a Retroist post, so imagine the uproar when a little video game called Cannon Fodder used it to maximum effect back in 1993!

Cannon Fodder from Sensible Software rocked Great Britain, baiting the British media into advertising it through its use of the Remembrance Day poppy, and that ‘catchy’ phrase. The newspapers had a field day with this game, criticising it for its juxtaposition of war and humour, calling the game “offensive to millions” and “monstrous”.

It wasn’t all bad press though. One paper stated that the game was “a relatively profound statement on the futility of war”. Regardless, the publicity surrounding Cannon Fodder made it a game worthy of attention. And did I mention that the game intro actually SANG that memorable catchphrase too? Look and listen kids…

Thankfully, media attention and controversy were not the defining features of this war game. Cannon Fodder is incredibly good! An overhead action game where you are your soldiers fight with nothing but a mouse pointer to guide them.

I could spend time explaining the gameplay. The nice little touches like the poppies planted in the field for each lost soul. The overwhelming feeling of dread when you lost a soldier that had been with through numerous campaigns. If you’ve not played the Amiga original, you should really hunt out a longplay video on Youtube to see for yourself. This game was truly brilliant, and a reason to own the hardware.

Handheld Fodder.

The Amiga version of Cannon Fodder wasn’t really meant to be my focus for this post though. Instead, let me introduce you to the scaled down Game Boy Color edition:

Cannon Fodder on the Nintendo Game Boy Color

Quite by accident I spotted on Ebay listing for Cannon Fodder GBC and was surprised to see a high purchase price. I didn’t know anything about this version of the game, but that high price intrigued me.

I went looking for a gameplay video to learn more and I was not disappointed. The game is a delight in every regard!

It has a CGI intro, gorgeous graphics, amazing audio and technically stunning gameplay that I didn’t know this Nintendo portable was capable of… this video really is a must-see:

The game is clearly cut-down from its original source. You don’t control the same number of soldiers, the viewable area is much smaller, proper tactical decisions are mostly replaced by a simpler version of the core games run-and-gun mechanic… you get the idea.

It’s basically everything I thought would be wrong with the game. Except in this rare exception, this diminutive Cannon Fodder doesn’t suffer at all from these changes. It instead becomes a game that borrows heavily from its source, making something wonderful for its host system.

More Fodder

Whilst researching this article, I read the original manual for Cannon Fodder on the Amiga. It is full of really funny comments, such as:

You do not directly control troopers but instead determine their behaviour thanks to a remarkable interfacing technique involving a mouse, a pointer, and a troop leader,

and

BAZOOKAS – Not to be confused with the crude trombone-like musical instruments of the same name, or, indeed, bazoomas, which are something else entirely. These bazookas are weapons of war.

and

… on a more serious note: don’t try playing this at home, kids, because war is not a game – war, as Cannon Fodder demonstrates in its own quirky way, is a senseless waste of human resources and lives. We hope that you never have to find out the hard way.

If you like the Cannon Fodder theme tune, this video might interest you. It is the Amiga CD32 intro which features the developers acting up. The CD32 of course was Commodore’s ill-fated foray into the world of console gaming:

Still here? Then watch as the creator of the Cannon Fodder theme, Jon “Jops” Hare, sings and plays his creation at Pixel Heaven 2014!

If I still haven’t convinced you that Cannon Fodder on the Game Boy Color is a worthy title, IGN gave it a 90% review back in 2001.

Please don’t leave the screaming wounded to die. Bite the bullet, so to speak. and do the decent thing: finish them off.

Check Out The Art & Hue Pop-Art Roundup

Pop. Art. Those two words by themselves are awesome, but put them together and you have yourself something altogether more stylish, you have pop-art that is epitomised by the work of Art & Hue.

I’ve posted a couple of times previously about the fantastic work from this British designer. His work on The Avengers and the Carry On series both tickled my art-fancy and, would you believe it, he just keeps creating more amazing designs!

So, to close out 2016, and perhaps give you some ideas for last minute festive pop-art gifts, here are just a few of the Art & Hue collections that we haven’t already featured.

Art & Hue Presents Thunderbirds

Hold the phone, it’s Joan Collins

It’s the Absolutely Fabulous Joanna Lumley

And remember, this is just a small selection. If you’re interested in the classic School for Scoundrels, Hammer Horror or screen icon Audrey Hepburn, then Art & Hue could have something for you.

You can even find a little Elvis in the shop. Happy Holidays!

What the SMEG is a SMEGAZINE?

And if you don’t know what a SMEG is…

Sensible readers amongst you might guess that a smegazine is the PR exercise of the high-end Italian appliance-maker Smeg. It isn’t. The British readers amongst you will almost certainly jump to a conclusion about the mining ship “Red Dwarf” and her crew. They, or course, would be abso-smegging-lutely right!

Red Dwarf, the TV show, is about to start broadcasting its 11th series, some 28 years after its 1988 debut. For many British sci-fi fans, this is very special, as we’ve grown up with the ‘boys from the Dwarf’.

The series premise is pure comedy gold; the Mining Ship ‘Red Dwarf’ finds itself far from Earth, 3 million years into the future, with a crew consisting of Dave Lister (the last Human alive), his evolved cat (the aptly named Cat!), a Hologram of Arnold J. Rimmer (the long-dead crew member who spoke the most words to Dave, most of which were Smeg!) and Holly, a super-computer with an IQ of 6000 who has gone a little peculiar during her time alone. A later series introduced the service mechanoid Kryten.

Now, onto that Smegazine…

smegazine issue 1

In 1992, after 4 increasingly successful seasons, Red Dwarf gained its first monthly magazine. Issue 1 (above) was jut a magazine (that couldn’t be sold to SMEG HEADS). By issue 3 they’d coined a new term, and the smegazine was born. Running for 23 issues, the smegazine contained a mixture of news, reviews, interviews, comic strips and competitions and you can read them over at archive.org – you’d be a total gimboid to ignore the opportunity, the comics are a particular highlight!

Issues one to three contain a comic for the first TV episode ‘The End’ and the artwork is amazing! Other highlights in issue one include a beginners guide, an interview with Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Holly’s Amazing Facts (including her fascination with footballer Kevin Keegan!), a surprisingly in-depth Studio Report, and lots of silly competition and trivia pages. Issue two has details of America’s attempt to re-create the show, the start of a TV series guide to the episodes thus far (in the wrong order!) and the diaries of Arnold J Rimmer! Seriously, go and start reading them!

smegazine issues 2 and 3

You might have spotted that I mentioned a US pilot. You can see the first 1992 pilot over on Youtube… warning, it isn’t great!

And for reasons that are ‘too stupid to go into’, they had a second stab at another pilot IN THE SAME YEAR! Warning, this isn’t great either!

Fortunately the British original has plenty of clips on Youtube to remind you of its brilliance!

What a SMEG HEAD!

Shoot the Core with maps of Gradius

Where I find that maps of the Konami classic ‘Gradius’ help you to discover hidden levels!

I’ve written many times before about my love for the Gradius shoot-em-up series from Konami (see here, here, here, here and here). You would therefore assume that I’m something of an expert at “shooting the core”. This is very true, I think I am, and especially so for the version that introduced me to the Vic Viper: Gradius on the MSX.

I was recently reading on online post about bonus levels. This article touched upon the four bonus levels that can be reached whilst playing Gradius. “FOUR?”, I thought. That’s odd, I only remember three. The MSX bonus levels in Gradius can be reached by flying your ship to specific points in specific levels. You can fly through the mountain in stage 1, manoeuvre between two Moai heads in stage 3 and fly through two more mountains in stage 4. How can I reach the fourth bonus stage?

gradius stage1 msx

Turning to the internet, I went in search of new knowledge, and found answers over at MSX Solutions. Here I discovered that stage 7 has one final access point to the fourth bonus stage. Better yet, they have a brilliant map which tells you where to fly, and provides the full layout for all of the stages, including the four bonus levels.

I never imagined that a simple 80’s shoot-em-up was in need of a level map. However, now that I’ve seen it, I want more! These images are works of art and I think they would make excellent room decoration. Just imagine having a wallpaper border wrapped around a room depicting the entire epic journey of the Vic Viper. Bliss!

Art from this post is taken from the Nemesis (Gradius) map by Fabio Albergaria, 2005. Original artwork is of course from the Konami game “Nemesis” on the MSX, 1986.

Carry On Art-ing

What would you think of If I asked you to name a long-standing film series from Britain? It was James Bond, right? Well, there is another film series that the folks over at Art & Hue would prefer you remember – the low-budget, incredibly British, “Carry On” franchise. Between 1958 and 1992, there were more than 30 films, a TV series, Christmas specials and several stage shows, all produced under the Carry On banner, and all featuring a healthy dose of bawdy humour that only the Brits could put to screen.

For better or worse, I’ve watched most of the 31 films over the years, and no matter what else you might think of them, they’ve certainly left an impression on me and on British culture! Art & Hue have produced Carry on Pop-Art, inspired by the classic series.

carryon_art_hue_team

Sadly, my favourite in the film series – Carry on Camping – doesn’t feature. I do have a fondness for Carry on Cruising though, and I was pleased to find that they created th beautiful film poster below.

carryon_art_hue_cruising

Handily, they’ve put together a video for to watch too:

If you enjoyed any of the films, have a fondness for Barbara Windsor, or like your art to really POP, head on over to the Carry On Pop-Art collection and get your money ready!

And if you like this, I’ve Previously posted about Art & Hue when they added their pop aesthetic to The Avengers.