The Cult of the Game: Startropics
March 2, 2009, 12:14 am
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It may seem odd but this month is the Cult of Nintendo month. I say odd because in all honesty few companies are as consistent at releasing top selling AAA titles as the big N. From old classics like Zelda, Mario and Metroid, to new franchsies like Pokemon, Animal Crossing and Nintendogs it always seems Nintendo is able to touch anything and turn it into franchise gold destined to sell millions along its many consoles.

However Nintendo is a company about good gameplay first, and as the Cult of the Game shows being good doesn’t always mean you’ll be popular. Odd settings, difficult (at first) game mechanics and lack of availability have caused a number of Nintendo’s first party titles to slip under the Big N’s and consumer’s radar and have created wonderful cult games.

The creation of Startropic was an odd birth. Directed by Genyo Takeda who had originally worked on Punch Out!! Startropics was developed in Japan but never released there. The game was an answer to the growing North American and European markets. While games were becoming hugely popular in both regions many US publishers at he time had a large amount of xenophobia to games from Japan which sometimes were steeped in Japanese ideals and pop culture they felt would turn off gamers. Startropics was an early attempt to design a game with western audiences in mind only and was released only in North America and Europe.

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The Cult of the Game: River City Ransom
December 29, 2008, 1:30 am
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It seems today you can’t have a game come out and the press release doesn’t try to convince you it’s more than what it really is. Everything is a genre bending mish mash, a 3rd person fighting adventure game with RPG elements. While most of these games and fail at delivering because they stretch too far and end up satisfying none of what they touch you get the odd game that is able to meld genres and derive something that’s totally fascinating in the process.

It maybe the evolution of sophistication of the gamer today but back in the fledgling 8 bit console days such practice would spell the death of a game. This isn’t to say that it was for a lack of trying, but when genres would bleed gamers, weaned off twitch based arcade games would not get the brainier elements of these hybrid games. We’ve touched on how Herzog Zwei was thought to be an “overly complicated” shooter at first. The same would happen to games like System Shock and Blaster Master.

River City Ransom would be hit by the problem even harder mainly due to the fact that beat ‘em ups were an extremely popular genre. Prior to River City Ransom’s release ports of Double Dragon, Double Dragon II and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game were released to great success. While River City Ransom was also a beat ‘em up it’s squished chibi anime inspired graphics and RPG elements turned off potential US publishers. In a strange twist of irony developer Technos would publish and localize the game themselves and put it into direct competition with the Double Dragon series that they also developed but were able to sell to US publisher Tradewest.

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