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      Game Culture

      Phantom Gear: Playgrounds of Peril

      Phantom Gear: Playgrounds of Peril

      No matter how creative the enemies are or how beautiful the graphics are, the main quality that players will sometimes be looking for in a 2D side-scroller is the level design. And while they may not exactly be aware of it, the level design will always make or break a game in terms of player experience. After all, you can’t simply have multiple levels with different kinds of set dressing on it and pass it off as a great level design if all levels are simply the same in terms of layout.


      Fortunately for us, Phantom Gear is excellent in that aspect. Each level brings a unique aesthetic to it that fits the world while also bringing in unique mechanics for each of them. So join Josephine in her quest to recover a piece of the Artifact stolen by the Ocular Force across multiple levels of smooth gameplay and frantic combat.

       

      Common Ground

      Before heading on to specifics for each level, there are a couple of key things that will be equally true for almost all of them. Phantom Gear's levels are designed to be one big level split into multiple sections. It follows a checkpoint system, and whenever you die, you will be simply transported to the last checkpoint you reached. As with most platformers made for the Sega Genesis, you only have a limited number of lives, and if you run out of them, you’d have to start the entire game over. A way to take this down a notch is that the levels with some of the more difficult sections will contain an extra life. These extra life pickups also respawn whenever you die, which also means that you effectively get unlimited lives if you choose to always try and pick them up.

      Aside from checkpoints, there are also various shops strewn across the levels, allowing you to spend your hard-earned green orbs to upgrade your abilities, give you extra lives, or equip different weapons. Some of these shops contain extra juicy stuff, but they are located on alternate routes within the level, so be on the lookout for these routes!

       

      Wandering Free

      With those out of the way, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of each level. There are eight levels in the game, and while this may seem low in number, remember that each level is one huge linear track that is split into multiple sections. This means that the actual game length would be longer than the eight levels that Phantom Gear presents you with.

      The first level that we’ll encounter is City Lab, and this is where Josephine’s journey begins. This level mostly aims to introduce the player to how Phantom Gear works, introducing you to the different enemies and obstacles within the world and showing you just how maneuverable Josephine is.

       

       

      Next, we have the Under City Cave, the source of the city’s power by way of geothermal energy. This is essentially a magma-filled level with plenty of lava-based obstacles along the way. And for a person like Josephine, her augments can only carry her so far when it comes to the heat inside the cave.

       

       

      Valley Forest is the third level, which is the staple greenery level that consists of multiple robotic animals, influenced by the Ocular Force. A bit of foreshadowing here but there’s a huge surprise waiting for you when you reach the end of the level. You better gear up!

       

       

      The first level that provides a break from all the jumping and shooting, Blast Journey has Josephine taking to the skies, riding a missile towards her next destination. A homage to the retro side-scrolling shooters, Josephine must be able to survive the onslaught of flying enemies that this level spawns to survive the trip.

       

       

      A platformer wouldn’t be complete without an ice level, and Phantom Gear is no exception. The Snowy Mines contains all the usual trappings of an ice level, with plenty of slippery floors and harsh snowstorms.

       

       

      Another auto-scrolling level, but this time, Josephine is grounded. Hot Pursuit sees her on a motorcycle chasing a train owned by the Ocular Force. Naturally, there will be plenty of shooting involved, and it’s your job to dodge bullets from enemies while dishing out your version of pain to them.

       

       

      Fallen City is a glimpse of what would happen to other cities in the world if the Ocular Force is left unchecked. With plenty of failed experiments and junk from the factories of the Force, it elevates the Ocular Force from a bunch of random grunts wearing masks to a legitimate threat to Josephine’s world.

       

       

      The atmosphere set by Fallen City is perfect for the game’s penultimate level because once you enter Ocular Force Headquarters, there’s no going back. The final level of the game will test all of the skills that you acquired throughout the game. And seeing as this is the final level, you better be prepared for the final boss as well. 

       

       

       

      Locking Up

      With all this information in tow, it’s ultimately up to you how you would tackle the dangers strewn across each level. Whether you choose to blast through enemies haphazardly or take a more careful approach, at the end of the day, it is Josephine's mission to recover the stolen piece of the Artifact and put an end to the Ocular Force’s dreams of world domination once and for all.

      If screenshots and a little bit of blurb won’t do for you and would love to see most of these levels in action, fear not, because you can head on over to Phantom Gear’s Kickstarter page to download a demo. And if you feel like the demo wouldn’t be enough for you to experience the lightning-fast frenzy of the game, the full game will be available soon, and pre-ordering it would be a great idea. Check out the game's Steam page and put it on your wish list! Join our Discord for discussion, news, and updates! 

       

       

      The Harkening: The best games to start your retro journey

      It’s a new year! That means new things to look forward to and of course, new resolutions to start the year right. But resolutions are a thing of the past. So instead of that, why don’t you try out new things this year! The word “new” might be something relative since what I’m going to introduce to you is something that is tethered in the past. But worry not! Because going retro is in more than ever and it never goes out of fashion. Plus, you get to have fun either solo or with friends! 

      Retro games often tick something within their player base. Some say it’s the nostalgia. Others argue it’s the huge amount of satisfaction when you finally get to conquer them years after. Whatever the reason is, it doesn’t hurt to give some of these old games a whirl. Who knows you might even discover a new favorite. 

      If you’re someone who is looking to scratch that gaming itch, how about you try some retro games on for size? You’d marvel at how deep and engaging some of these games from the old times can be. Here are our picks for some of the best retro games to start your journey with.

       

       

      Tetris

      While not the first video game to be publicly released, Tetris was one of the first to be widely available with great success. This game was first released in 1984 for the Electronika 60 in Russia. Since then, there have been plenty of ports of this simple yet engaging game. With differently shaped blocks falling from the top of the screen, the player must prevent these blocks from filling the screen by stacking them correctly. Filling a straight line with blocks clears that line, and doing so will cause blocks on top of it to fall. This means that the player must continuously manage to put the falling blocks into spaces that would facilitate the clearance of rows to keep the game going.

      This isn't the Matrix, it's Tetris

      Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a challenge if it was just that. The game also gradually makes the falling blocks fall faster  This requires the player to increase their concentration and reflexes as the game goes on. And with an inherent scoring mechanic, Tetris has lived on to survive even to this day. There are multiple ports to modern consoles each with its unique gimmick. There’s even an e-sports event dedicated to the best of the best! A timeless classic.

       

       

      Street Fighter 2

      Speaking of e-sports, none of the fighting games of today’s landscape would probably even exist if it wasn’t for this game. Street Fighter 2 wasn’t just a successful sequel; it launched an entire genre on its own. By way of the developers deciding to leave in a bug for really good players to abuse, they also inadvertently introduced combos to the world of video gaming. And with such a successful game on their hands, Capcom eventually had multiple copycats vying for a slice of the fighting game pie.

      Can you hear that Hadouken?

      And while Street Fighter 2 is not played in tournaments as much as newer iterations of the franchise, the inherent fluidity of the game’s mechanics stands the test of time. I’d argue that it is still an enjoyable experience within the modern fighting game scene. Street Fighter 2 continues to endure, whether it be in high-level tournaments or within the comfort of your couch.

       

       

      Pac Man

      If you’re looking for less of the beating down opponents and more opportunities for getting a high score, then this game might be more up your alley. Pac-Man is centered around its titular character trapped in a maze full of pellets, fruits, and ghosts. It’s up to you to guide him through this maze and have him eat every single one of the pellets while dodging ghosts. However, you have power pellets scattered across the level, and gobbling one up will allow you to eat ghosts for a limited time. And with the occasional fruit randomly spawning around the level and a limited amount of power pellets, it’s ultimately a choice of surviving more efficiently which in turn would gain you more points.

      Gobble gobble!

      If you’re willing to put yourself up for a challenge, then hear this out. There’s a definite maximum number of points you can achieve with the original arcade game. It’s a whopping 3,333,360 points, partly due to the game glitching out during the 256th level. If you're up to it, you can either try your hand at being the select few who achieved this score. If that doesn't cut it, then try the recent iterations of this beloved icon.

       

       

      Doom

      For the uninitiated, Doom might seem like a newer franchise. With how popular the recent reboots have been (Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal), I think that is forgivable. But that’s exactly what these games represent: reboots of a popular franchise. Doom is credited as the game that popularized first-person shooters. And with good reason, because for its time, Doom's controls were hella smooth and was everyone’s most played games then. Imagine selling 2-3 million units and still counting! A true testament to how popular this game is until now. 

      Peak 90s FPS Experience

      If you’re from the newer generation of gamers, you might be wondering how an old FPS would be that popular back then without online multiplayer. Well, stop scratching that head of yours because Doom laid out the roots of what would eventually be modern online multiplayer. Despite the limited capabilities of the internet, against all odds, it was possible to frag each other through online means. This was possible via a dial-up network and it was glorious! Minus that beeping dial-up sound of course. If you’re a multiplayer junkie, you still wouldn’t want to miss out on the amazing single-player campaign and rip and tear demons.

       

       

      Final Fantasy VII

      The story of Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII remains to be the most popular amongst the various other stories within the Final Fantasy series. Receiving numerous spin-offs and even a full CGI movie it is the first entry that received a complete remake for the current generation consoles. FFVII continues to appeal to multiple generations of fans and is a true testament to its timelessness. This is because of its gripping storyline, engaging boss battles, and quirky side quests.

      Blocky Cloud is still the way to go

      If you haven’t played any role-playing games yet, this is a good starting point. While there are multiple inconsistencies throughout the game’s presentation, it’s mainly because this was the first entry in the series to utilize 3D graphics, so it never distracted from the game’s strong story elements.

       

       

      To New Beginnings

      While these five games are just a few examples, there are plenty more retro games to start sinking your teeth into across different genres. You have the classic run-and-gun action of Metal Slug, the sprawling adventure of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or the charming platforming of Donkey Kong Country. Listing them all here would be quite an impossible task and it would take forever just talking about all of these amazing retro games. You have a whole year ahead to try most of them out, so get your game face on! 

      So which retro games do you think we missed? Is the omission of certain characters like a plumber or hedgehog appalling? Or which among these would you love to try? Head on over to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to chime in on your thoughts. We’d also love for you to say meow on our Mega Cat Discord and start a gaming discussion! 

      Top 10 Christmas Based Games: Saving the Holidays

      We have been celebrating Christmas longer than we have had video games. That may seem obvious, but outside of in-game events, games that are explicitly connected to the holiday are quite far and few in between. I mean, sure, there's still more than 50 of them, but for a holiday that is celebrated by different cultures across the globe, you'd be surprised at how sparse video games connected to Christmas are.


      So how about we celebrate the few video games that do succeed at bringing the holiday cheers? Some of the games that we'll be shining the spotlight on today are games that are largely focused on the holiday while some have plots that only happen on Christmas. But no matter which end of the Christmas spectrum they stand in, there's bound to be something in there for you to celebrate the holiday cheers with. Let's ring those bells and begin the Christmas games countdown!

       

       

      Christmas NiGHTS

      We’ll be starting with this obscure little gem. If you’ve ever played or heard of NiGHTS into Dreams before, this title will be mostly the same but with more of the spirit of Christmas at work. The most curious thing about this Christmas NiGHTS is that there’s only one level in the game, Christmas Spring Valley, which also means there’s only one boss. You can choose to play as either Elliot or Claris, but there’s not much difference between the two.

      The reason why they did this, though, is because this was a promotional sampler disc of NiGHTS into Dreams for the Sega Saturn that was released during the holiday season of 1996. This makes hunting an original copy of the sampler disc quite a challenge. Thankfully, if you’ve been wanting to play through this one, HD remasters of NiGHTS into Dreams included it as an unlockable. Hooray for modern technology!

       

       

      Cthulhu Saves Christmas

      For something a lot easier to access but still rather obscure, we’ve got this little gem of an RPG on Steam. Cthulhu Saves Christmas has a visual style that harkens back to the good ol’ SNES era but is more comically self-aware than any of the classic RPGs. It centers around Cthulhu trying to rescue Santa Claus from the League of Christmas Evil so that he can get his powers back. It’s incredibly fast-paced and funny, and while there’s not a lot of innovation in terms of gameplay, it makes up for it in how irreverent the humor is.

      One thing to note is that this game is the second game to come out in Zeboyd Digital’s Cthulhu Saves Something RPG series. Fortunately, it’s also a prequel, so you don’t need to have played Cthulhu Saves the World before diving into this one. If you love the style of Cthulhu Saves Christmas, then it’s best to check out the rest of Zeboyd’s games. They’re all pretty great!



      The Darkside Detective

      Unlike the rest of the games on this list, The Darkside Detective doesn’t solely focus on Christmas, but among the many cases to solve in this gripping point-and-click adventure game, one of them is a nod to Christmas specials! That may not be enough to put this game on a list like this, but we’ll be making an exception for The Darkside Detective on the account that it is just too good of a game to pass up. If you don’t like the genre, this won’t turn you into a believer, but if you’re open to games as long as they have a rich story, then this will most likely be up your alley.



      Also, this is somewhat proof of what we were talking about with regards to games and Christmas. There’s usually very little in terms of the quantity of Christmas-themed games. Imagine the shenanigans we could get if all of The Darkside Detective’s cases occurred during Christmas instead of us getting that sole Christmas Spectacular Special. But, hey, at least we got one, right? More opportunities to talk about this sweet game so that we could potentially get more of Francis McQueen in the future. Pick up this game on Steam, PS4, PS5, XBOX, or Switch.




      Daze Before Christmas

      Now this one is a full-on Christmas-themed game! Daze Before Christmas players even gets to play as Santa Claus as he tries to save Christmas from an evil mouse who stole the presents supposedly for kids. And how will players be doing that? By using his magic powers to turn his enemies into harmless Christmas presents, of course! This game is a glorious 2D action platformer on the Mega Drive and SNES!



      The game itself is pretty barebones platforming, but there are plenty of moments in the game that are just truly bizarre. I mean, you drink tea to turn into Anti-Santa, and while in this state, you’re an invincible devilish-looking version of Santa that swings his sack of toys at enemies to defeat them. In this form, he can’t use his magic or open presents. Whoever thought of that is both a genius and a madman. We need more Christmas weirdness in our games!

       

       

      Elf Bowling

      If you’ve ever read a list of Christmas-themed games that did not have Elf Bowling in it, consider that list incomplete. This game for ye olde Windows during the ‘90s was one of the most played PC games that were not bundled with Windows, hitting 7.6 million players at the time. That may seem like a small number compared to the millions of players that newer games were getting, but remember that PCs were not as commonplace back in the ‘90s as they are now. And with this game mostly being shared via email, it was no surprise that a lot of people who owned a PC then were able to play it.



      Of course, for all the people out there who had no idea that Elf Bowling existed before this article, it’s a pretty basic bowling game. You play as Santa, and you are trying to knock down elves who are arranged like bowling pins. There’s absolutely nothing fancy about the gameplay, but the game had a lot of antics that ranged from silly to crude. The elves will taunt Santa when he misses, dances when the game ends, and even randomly moons him. Sure, they can be decapitated by the bowling ball, but they can also randomly dodge it. Pooping rabbits, crossing frogs, and lurking deer are also present, making this one of the weirder bowling games released.



      Home Alone

      There were multiple versions of the video game tie-in of Home Alone, but we’ll be talking about the one that got the most positive reception. The Master System version of Home Alone has players control Kevin while he races to collect various valuables lying around the house before the Wet Bandits can get to them. Once he collects all of them, he will then need to place those valuables inside a vault. If he can do this without the Bandits leaving the house with valuables in tow, players will succeed in clearing the level and move on to the next one.


      While the Master System version will take a while to get into challenging territory, it’s the best of the bunch. Critics considered the Game Boy version to be slow and tedious and the other versions underdeveloped and overpriced. If you’re curious about how these criticisms hold up to today’s standards, the other versions of Home Alone were released for NES, SNES, PC, Game Boy, Genesis, Game Gear, and Amiga.



      Jazz Jackrabbit: Holiday Hare

      Much like Christmas NiGHTS, Jazz Jackrabbit: Holiday Hare is a special shareware edition of the original game that featured extra content centered around Christmas. There were two of these that were released, though: one was for 1994, the other was for 1995. Holiday Hare 1994 had three extra levels while 1995 only had two. Nevertheless, both Holiday Hare versions were extra Christmas-themed content with the same smooth platforming that Jazz Jackrabbit was known for, so we’ll happily play through both of them.


      If you’re hunting for both Holiday Hares, make it a priority to get 1995. 1994’s extra levels were later integrated into the main Jazz Jackrabbit game as episode X, but 1995 didn’t get the same treatment. Since both of them are shareware, it’s probably not going to be hard to look for copies of both of them if you’re just looking to play through bite-sized sessions of Jazz Jackrabbit, but, hey, the more you know, right?



      Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

      When you first take a look at it, there’s nothing about Metal Gear 2 that screams Christmas. But when you do get to play it, you’ll quickly realize that you’ll be embarking on a rescue mission on Christmas Eve. Yep, we’ve got a nuclear threat on both Christmas and the world. Time to sneak around as Solid Snake in classic grid-based stealth!

      Oh, right, this isn’t your newfangled Metal Gear Solid. This was way before it became cool on the Playstation. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was released on the MSX2, and it’s probably one of the best 8-bit games ever released. The thing about it is, aside from the plot occurring during Christmas Eve, there’s not a whole lot about the game that will provide the holiday cheers. There are plenty of double-crosses, tactical warfare, and clever stealth mechanics, sure. But if you’re looking for the Christmas spirit somewhere in there, you’d be hard-pressed to find it here.



      Merry Gear Solid: Secret Santa

      If you’re looking to play a game with plenty of sneaking around while also being a game that is themed around Christmas, then look no further than this fan-created game in the vein of the Metal Gear series. Merry Gear Solid: Secret Santa combines the gameplay of the 2D Metal Gear games while stylistically resembling the 3D games, putting the visual cues largely in line with the modern games. Players will be playing as Solid Santa, a holiday veteran who needs to deliver presents to several children on Christmas Eve.

      It’s got plenty of Christmas-y twists to the militaristic flair that the core series has, but it’s now replaced enemy soldiers with naughty kids who are waiting for Santa and oblivious adults who can’t even see you unless you come in physical contact with them. The overall game is a bit short, but it’s a free game based on an excellent IP, so I can’t hear anyone complaining.

       

       

      Parasite Eve

      Our last game is similar to Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake in that the plot unfolds during Christmas Eve but doesn’t have a lot of Christmas spirit. It’s got more of a horror vibe to it, with the primary antagonist Eve making herself known to the world. Of course, she has to do it on Christmas Eve. Maybe it’s more dramatic that way, no? Enter Parasite Eve.

      As Aya Brea, players embark on a journey to stop Eve from destroying the human race through spontaneous human combustion. Set-up as an Action RPG this was then-Squaresoft’s first M-rated game. Gamers were all sure back then that they wouldn’t be pulling any punches. Plenty of praise was hailed on the game’s graphics and gameplay, but the linear nature of the plot meant that there was little replay value to be had. Fortunately, that story is something that should be experienced by all kinds of gamers. We probably need an HD remake of this sooner rather than later.

       

       

      We Just Want More Christmas Games

      Beyond these ten games, there are still quite a few more games that have some sort of Christmas connection to them, but that's all we'll be covering for now. If you love Christmas, here's to hoping that more video game plots get to happen during the holiday season. We need more protagonists getting into trouble during the holidays or odd revelations in the most wholesome season of each year. Until then, be sure to stay tuned to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more holiday cheers! You can also head on over to our Mega Cat Discord and discuss with us any Christmas-themed games we may have missed!

      Make Your Wishlists Come True - Indie Steam Games to Beg Santa For

      Christmas is a great way to get some gifts. The holiday spirit is all about giving, after all. So if you’re truly hankering for some great gift ideas for gamers, or just want to stuff your wishlists with as many new games as possible, we’re presenting you with some of the newest indie games on Steam that you’ll want to receive and play through during the holiday season!


      This won’t be a definitive list, but the games on this list are ones that we feel extremely positive about. We have all of these games in our wishlists too. So, in no particular order, let’s get on with the list!

      Fights in Tight Spaces

      The newest game on our list, and possibly the slickest looking one, Fights in Tight Spaces is a turn-based deck-building game that aims to simulate, well, fights in tight spaces. With multiple enemies coming from different angles and a huge variety of ways to outmaneuver their smooth moves, Fights in Tight Spaces is a welcome addition to any gamer’s library who loves action flicks but can’t be bothered with games that rely on fast reflexes.



      If you’ve played any of the newfangled deck-building video games like Slay the Spire or Monster Train, or maybe have had plenty of experience with physical ones like Star Realms or Dominion, then Fights in Tights Spaces will be right up your alley. This game will make you feel like a badass while also keeping true to its turn-based tactical gameplay.

      Let’s Build a Zoo

      If action flicks aren’t your thing, then how about a wacky management sim about creating a zoo? If you’re unsure about how wacky things can get in a zoo sim, then let me tell you about Let’s Build a Zoo. This sandbox game with beautiful pixel art puts you in charge of not only creating your animal enclosures and everything in it but also splicing together the DNA of different animals to create weird combinations of animals. Whether you want a Crocoduck, a Chickow, or something else entirely, there’s a whole bunch of possible combinations to uncover!

      Of course, if that was all that the game could provide, it would be special enough. But with a bunch of random events with an equally oddball nature coupled with the usual management sim tropes of keeping customers happy while raking in the cash, it truly makes for a special one-of-a-kind of experience.

       

      Defend the Rook

      Crazy antics are fun, but if you’re looking for more of an odd mixture of gameplay elements, then Defend the Rook has it in spades. It combines tactical RPGs with tower defense mechanics while also being a rogue-lite. While a combination of any two of those elements has been mixed before, none has done it in this manner. The presentation is more akin to being a battle of chess, with players being able to move their pieces across a grid and summon various types of towers and units to defend their castle.

      And while that would be different enough in itself, the added layer of being a rogue-lite makes each battle unique. If you’re not particularly enamored with how rogue-lites lull you into a particular gameplay loop, this will probably leave you wanting something different. But for everyone else, Defend the Rook will keep you coming back for one last round, over and over again.

       

      Growbot

      So far, none of the games in this list presents a strong enough story. How about we change that with this entry then? Growbot is a point-and-click adventure game with very cute aesthetics and a strong visual identity. It follows the story of a young robot who is trying to save her verdant home from a dark force made up mostly of crystals. Most of the game is made up of various puzzle sections that the player must solve to progress through the story.

      The one caveat that we have to give about Growbot is that its overall runtime was a bit short. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a solid adventure game to sink your teeth into throughout the weekend, we can’t help but recommend this charming little package.

       

      They Always Run

      Do you want more story than just a cutesy adventure of a little robot trying to save his home? Then They Always Run is going to be your jam. It’s got a complex story about a three-armed bounty hunter caught up in a galaxy-wide conspiracy interwoven with its tight 2D Metroidvania gameplay. The setting gives off a strong Cowboy Bebop vibe, while the gameplay feels like a more methodical version of Dead Cells’ over-the-top action sequences.

      The coolest thing about They Always Run is the usage of the third arm. Rather than simply pressing a button to perform attacks with it, players need to manually aim it using their mouse, making for a surprisingly flexible attack that can be executed from any angle.

       

      Impostor Factory

      If you’ve never played any game from Freebird Games before, then Impostor Factory will surprise you with how much of an emotional gut-punch this game can be. It’s billed as a tragicomedy, sure, but when the tragedy part hits, it hits hard. There isn’t much gameplay to be found in Impostor Factory. It’s mostly a superbly written story fleshed out by having players be involved in it by having some sections of walking around, talking to people, and interacting with objects.

      There’s also a good amount of puzzles to solve throughout the game’s runtime. The puzzles are good, but there’s nothing here that will challenge you as a gamer. If you’re looking for ways to test your skills, Impostor Factory won’t be the game you’re looking for. But it will test the threshold of your tears.

       

      Unmetal

      Do you miss the 2D Metal Gear games on the MSX2? Or maybe you want to play them but find it tedious to whip out such an old system? You’re in luck then, because  Unmetal harkens back to that good old top-down 2D stealth action of those titles and puts them into the modern era! The catch here is that this one’s a comedic romp that pays homage to the classics with plenty of humor and satire, so if you feel like you won’t be amused by a game that makes fun of the hyper serious military setting of Metal Gear games, then maybe skip this one out.



      If you can get past that barrier, though, you’ll have an especially fun time in your hands. This is a great parody of the series, and even if you’re not exactly privy to any of the Metal Gear games, the humor here is still fresh and will be able to continuously deliver you solid gameplay and hearty laughs.

       

      Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator

      If you’re iffy about early access games, this one might not be for you. But if you’re willing to invest in a game brimming with potential, then Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator might just be your cup of tea. It’s one of those games that has a very satisfying gameplay loop and a singular focus. You gather ingredients, craft potions, then sell them off to customers. There’s very little pressure to succeed because even your failures are a big part of what makes the game enjoyable, especially given the flavor of alchemy that this game is going for.

      If we’re looking to nitpick something about the game, it’s just that there’s nothing to the game that is a challenge. Everything is fun and safe, and there’s not much to it in terms of narrative too. But if you’re simply looking for a chill gaming session, then Potion Craft will be the perfect game for you.

       

      Eastward

      Flavor is the name of Eastward's game. Its world is brimming with characters that you would want to get to know more about, the locales are places that you would want to stay in longer, and the music gives each area a unique feeling to them. This game is probably the most well-known on this list, but that comes with plenty of good reasons. The story is delightful, albeit a bit slow-paced. But when it finally moves forward, it does so with plenty of gusto.

      Eastward wears its inspirations on its sleeves. One look at it and you’ll know that it takes plenty of cues from Earthbound and Undertale with its charming worldbuilding, quirky characters, and colorful visuals. The gameplay treads plenty of familiar ground, but that’s such a small caveat for players to be torn away from the wonderful world presented in this game.

       

      Log Jammers

      Our last game is something that we hold close to our hearts and for good reason. Log Jammers has long been in early access, and while its fast-paced gameplay is better suited for couch sessions with friends or online multiplayer with jeers and cheers via voice chat, the current state of both the world and the game offers very few opportunities to play it as such.

      Thankfully, with the upcoming updates to the game’s multiplayer code, online play will be smoothed out. Add to that the new servers that we’ll be adding to the mix, plenty of quality of life changes, and easier ways to invite friends, and we’ve got ourselves a banger of a multiplayer game to end this list.

       

      Why Not All of Them?

      And that’s our list of Steam games that we would love to see in our libraries this Christmas! If you feel like we’ve missed any game that you want to see, then go ahead and tell us all about it on any of our social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! You can also head on over to our Mega Cat Discord to discuss which other games you want on your wishlist! 

      This Week In Gaming History - November 29th - Dec 5th

      This Week In Gaming History - November 29th - Dec 5th

      Winter is coming and it’s time to dust off that old chest in the attic where your Mum keeps the old Christmas decorations, rummage through it and you just might find that video game memento you’ve been looking for all these years. Lets go ahead and open that secret wardrobe right there and let Catslan the Lion transport you to another nostalgia filled past in This Week in Gaming History.


      As gamers, we’ve all asked the age-old question as to what video game is considered to be the first of its kind and a lot of people seem to agree it’s Pong. They’re not wrong but they’re also not right. See it all depends on context. 

       

      The very first video game produced was in February 1962, made by a group of MIT engineers and was actually called Spacewar!, this was never released commercially despite its popularity in the university where it was developed. This however, inspired the creation of the very first commercialized video game called Computer Space developed by Bushnell who would later co-founded Atari. Sadly, the game never took flight as intended and Bushnell left Nutting Associates to put up Atari. 


      When he assigned Allan Alcorn to make a video game as a training exercise, Pong was born! Bushnell was so surprised at the quality of the game that he decided to have it manufactured. By November 29, 1972, the game was commercially released. In a span of 2 years they sold about 8000 Pong units and it took the fledgling gaming world by storm! In fact it was so popular before its official debut that the prototype cabinet used in a local bar broke down due to the huge amount of coins inside. 


      See popularity also brings with it copy-cats and Pong inspired a slew of bootlegs and ripoffs but this didn’t deter Atari and instead countered them by releasing Home Pong, a console version of Pong and in 1973 released a sequel called Pong Doubles that featured 4 players; another first in the gaming world. So again, was it the first actual video game? No. But was it the first video game that launched a whole new industry centered on entertainment and fun? Definitely!



      Here’s another video game inspired by real life sports, specifically ice hockey! NHL 99 was released on November 30, 1998 for the N64 and was met with high review scores by different gaming publications with an aggregate score of 84%. To make the game more immersive, the N64 version of NHL 99,  faithfully represented the official NHL and NHLPA licence showing all teams and players, including the Nashville Predators expansion team. Talk about bang for your puck, I mean buck. 


      Speaking of immersive, Daryl Reaugh returned from NHL 98 as the new series’ color commentator however, he left after NHL 99. The play-by-play commentary was done by ESPN's Bill Clement. The game also featured Eric Lindros on the cover. Lindros was with the Philadelphia Flyers when this game was released and was ultimately recognized in 2016 as an appointee into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Nice, ice baby.

      Here’s something to do in-game if you wanna skate on thin ice while playing hockey. If you type the word “zambo” anytime during the game, a random Zamboni will appear and start driving around on the skating rink even if a game is still ongoing! I hope that doesn’t happen in a real live game though, those things can be dangerous.

       

      We’re all dangerously in love with the Legend of Zelda franchise cause we can’t stop talking about how awesome the games have been over the years! Released on December 1, 1988 for the NES,  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was a direct sequel to the original Legend of Zelda however it deviated from its predecessor in terms of gameplay, introducing RPG elements and side-scrolling action. In addition to this, the game introduced elements such as Link's "magic meter" and the Dark Link character that would become commonplace in future Zelda games.It was also the first Zelda game to feature invisible enemies and also featured secrets such as being able to get past locked doors without keys by using the fairy spell and flying through the keyhole. Zelda II was slated to be released at an earlier date but due to the 1988 shortage of ROM chips, it prevented Nintendo from releasing most of its games according to their original schedules, including this one.


      Despite the differences it had with its predecessor, what Zelda II shared with it was its popularity,  as the game was met with mostly positive reviews from critics and became one of the most popular NES games of 1988, with many retailers reporting that the game was selling out that year. The game ultimately sold 4.38 million copies worldwide. Now, that’s flashy! 


      Speaking of flashy, the original NES/Famicom releases of this game showed a rapidly-flashing screen whenever Link dies. This was changed in the remakes to a blank screen, as the rapid flashing was known to cause epileptic seizures. Good thing they dialed down that kind of flashiness though. On a happier note, I’m glad they put Link’s name on the title, cause you know, to avoid confusing Zelda with Link. Admit it though before you got to play the game, you thought the main character’s name in the original Legend of Zelda was Zelda.

       

      You know who are masters at confusion, deceit and stealth, though? Ninjas! And who loves ninjas? We do! They have got to be one of gaming’s best tropes and that shows in Revenge of the Shinobi for Genesis. Released on December 2, 1989, it is the sequel to Shinobi for the arcade. Revenge of the Shinobi was a masterclass in design and gameplay and a lot of gamers and gaming critics agree that it is in more ways than one, superior to its predecessor. It has received 5 stars and 9s across the board and was even inducted in a lot of greatest games list, notable of which is Gamespot’s list of the greatest games of all time. 


      The game follows Joe Musashi as he finds his master bloodied and dying and his bride, Naoko, kidnapped by the notorious Neo Zeed. It is a traditional side-scrolling action platformer game that features 8 district levels, with its own set of enemies and unique bosses. Joe Musashi can also perform ninjutsu techniques and attack and jump simultaneously, hurling deadly shurikens at enemies. Now you think the game follows a serious plot line and story but wait till you hear about the bosses. 


      It’s funny to think that a game of this caliber would actually be a huge target for copyright lawsuits from different major companies owning certain popular characters. This is because in early versions of The Revenge of Shinobi, it had you fighting Batman as a boss, but because SEGA failed to get the licensing rights for the Caped Crusader, he was replaced by a winged demon in later versions of the game. I mean good thing they removed Batman from the game though, I’m sure he was prepared to beat Joe to a pulp. 


      Funnily enough too, district 7's boss was no other than the big G-man himself, Godzilla! Again it was eventually replaced by a skinless dinosaur whose name was Monster-G, which was obviously not a reference to a certain Kaiju. One of the other bosses is also very reminiscent of the Hulk. Spider-Man is also present as a boss. Like the actual Spiderman. This time though they were able to use Spiderman as a boss but was eventually deleted too as soon as the license for it expired. Serious question, who is this ninja guy? Is he like a dimension-hopping ninja Thanos-Darkseid-Ghidora hybrid? But, you know who the real boss is though? Joe Musashi is.

       

      The next game on this list is based on another game that is set in a hybrid world with aliens and dinosaurs and involves a dimension hopping, time-traveling warrior. Sounds confusing huh? Enter, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil for the Game Boy Color. Not to be confused with the N64 game with the same title, Turok 2 for the GBC was released on December 3, 1998 with low to middling reviews. Even IGN reviewer Peer Schneider described the game as "an E-rated cookie-cutter sidescroller with decent controls and unimpressive visuals". It followed a completely different story from its N64 counterpart but was essentially  set in the same world. 


      You are Joshua Fireseed a Turok or a Son of Stone tasked with protecting the Earth from multiversal incursions stemming from the Lost Land, a barbaric world that is an amalgam of all existing timelines. You are tasked to slash and gun down the Dinosoid Army in eight levels and battle four bosses using your wits and weapons like a knife, bow & arrow, pistols, shotguns and more. Schneider may not have been impressed by the game but lemme give you a very interesting tidbit about the game.


      Interestingly enough, the major plot points of this game is based on a comic simply titled Turok published by Acclaim Valiant in 1997 and 1998. This follows Joshua Fireseed also known as Coyote Knight, who is essentially a new Turok after the mantle was passed to him by his deceased uncle, Carl Fireseed. Although Josh was a new Turok he had the ability to call upon the previous and future Turoks to act as his guide in a style similar to  Avatar the Last Airbender. As puzzling as the state of the GBC game was, I think this is  an awesome piece of info and it’s best to experience the game and the comics hands-on. 

       

      Speaking of puzzling, here’s a puzzling challenge to boggle your mind on and I think you’d be interested to know it involves our favorite monsters we all aim to catch, Pokemon. This game was released on December 4, 2000 and has undergone more name changes than your favorite ninja game in Europe. It was initially announced by Nintendo employee Peter Main's "Industry Review" webcast under the title Pokémon Attack on January 13, 2000. Its name was eventually changed to Pokémon Puzzle League, but was released as Pokemon Puzzle Challenge. Puzzling ain’t it? Despite the name changes, what didn’t change was  the fact that it was a very-well made game as it holds an aggregate score of 90.20% at GameRankings, making it the 10th best Game Boy Color game and the 300th best video game on Game Rankings. 


      Of course, they wouldn’t put the word “Challenge” on the game title if the game wasn’t challenging right? You can unlock two extra modes for the hardcore gamers out there by doing these button prompts. When at the difficulty screen in Challenge Mode, pressing select & A while hovering over Hard More will unlock Super Hard Mode. Doing this again while hovering over Super Hard Mode will unlock Intense Mode, the highest difficulty level available in the game. Talk about punishing yourself in a Pokemon game. 


      Incidentally, there’s a secret involving the weird human-shaped Pokemon, Jynx. Her losing animation features nothing but her detached hair holding a white flag of defeat, similar to what happens when you defeat her in Pokemon Stadium.

       

      Like the Legend of Zelda franchise, Mario games have been a staple for Nintendo systems ever since it was first released way back in 1983 and the next game in this list is a striking testament to that. Super Mario Strikers was released on December 5, 2005 for the Game Cube. However, this was the last Mario game to be released on the GameCube in Japan and North America. It didn’t disappoint though as it was able to reach its goal and was ultimately considered to be outstanding in its field. It sold a total of 1.61 million copies at the end of its cycle owing to its fun gameplay and tight controls. Before the game was conceived however, game director Mike Inglehart and marketing director Grace Kim revealed that Strikers was originally intended to be a more realistic Mario sports game, but the development team opted for an "over-the-top" style after numerous consultations with Nintendo. Which is a wise decision in my opinion cause Mario games have always been over-the-top. 


      In a lot of firsts for the game franchise, this is the first game to feature Kenneth W. James, who temporarily replaces Scott Burns, as the voice of Bowser, a role that would become permanent starting with Super Mario Galaxy. This is also the only Mario Nintendo GameCube game to support 16:9 widescreen as well as 480p. Early concept art for the game shows Mario wearing number 10 as his team number but this was ultimately given to Princess Peach as her team number. In a first, breaking football tradition, Mario was given the number 1 as his team number which is supposed to be reserved for goalkeepers.


      That is all for this week’s gaming history lesson. Which one is your favorite pick on this list? Or do you remember a different game released on these dates? Join our Discord and subscribe to our YouTube for more!