Posts Tagged ‘virtual console’



When I moved to a new school to start off 1st Grade, my teacher had me fill out a new student worksheet so they could hang it in the hallway to introduce me to the rest of the school. One of the questions was “what do you want to be when you grow up?” No one had ever asked me that. I was only 6 years old. I chose something on the spot: race car driver. It seemed relatively normal for a 6-year-old to pick. Some other the other new kids said army guy or princess. Race car driver was a safe choice. But I knew in my heart I had a greater destiny. I wanted to be the 3rd Mario Brother. My (totally platonic) love affair the mustachioed Italian plumber runs deep. At 27 years old, Mario and I have been maintaining a gamemance for nearly 25 years and counting. I get geeked about new Mario game releases just as much as a kid. Girlfriends have had to deal with my irrational exuberance when E3 rolls around and Shigeru Miyamoto via translator Bill Trinen debuts Nintendo’s hot new ware. When said hot new ware releases and I get my hands on it… it’s, well… good. But for about the last 8 to 10 years, something has felt missing from the core Mario releases. New Super Mario Bros. certainly feels new, but I think therein lies the problem. It’s new, not old, which is what this retro gamer is used to.



I make no bones about saying my favorite game of all-time is Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES. It’s a fun game and still incredibly challenging after all these years. I still get an incredible sense of satisfaction after beating it because of the trials and tribulations of taking Mario through World 8 (especially the latter half of it, woof). I have great memories of playing this game as a child and watching others play it. But it makes me wonder, is Super Mario Bros. 3 my favorite game because it’s such a great game? Or is my undying love for it because I have such treasured memories of days past? I mean, it’s not exactly a stretch for someone to choose SMB3 as their favorite game. It is one of the best-selling games of all-time after all. But one of my earliest memories is watching my dad play it. My dad these days is absolutely NOT a gamer. I’m not even sure he’s touched a video game since I tried to get him to play NASCAR Thunder 2003. Even then, he probably hadn’t played a game since the early 90s. But I have such a vivid memory of watching him go through the second fortress on World 5 (the one that connects to the sky portion of that particular map). Maybe I’m looking into this too much, but could my love of Super Mario 3 be a result of it being, as far as I’m concerned, one of two video games I’ve ever seen my dad play? My dad and I never had a really close relationship. Could I be involuntarily holding on to this cherished memory by continually playing this game in the hopes of one day tossing my dad the second controller because I desire a closer relationship with my father? Yikes, this is getting a little deep for me. But this is only an explanation for one game, my favorite game. What about the other oldies?

Moby Games

Moby Games

Everyone has their reasons for being a retro gamer. Some may be hard pressed to find a reason for being a retro gamer other than “because it’s fun.” Well, of course it’s fun. You enjoy things that you find fun. But I want to go deeper. It may seem a bit self-serving, but I’m doing this introspective into my own head because I want to learn more about me. Maybe by doing this I can learn about others, but for now, I want to share my results with the world. One theory I came up with is how my post-high school life has been treating me. Adulthood has definitely had its share of ups and downs for me. I’ve faced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It perfectly matches my senior yearbook quote of “Life is like a rollercoaster. It’s scary.” Perhaps because my adult life has been less than desirable for the majority of my 20s, I’ve been holding on to childhood memories to remind myself of happier times. What better way to relive those memories than with the one constant in my life?



When I was living with an emotionally and mentally abusive girlfriend, my gaming room was my escape. For a small block of time, I was able to block her out and go back to a time where my feet didn’t touch the floor when I sat on the couch. I could sit in the basement and pretend I was 9 years old all over again. When a different girlfriend left me and I sat alone in an empty apartment, I picked up my 3DS and started speedruns on the copy of Super Mario Bros. I downloaded from the eShop. I didn’t have much, but I had the pure unadulterated elation of beating Super Mario Bros. without not just dying, but not even getting hit by an enemy. When I had a bad day at work and just wanted to yell and scream and ask whatever supreme being is in the sky “why?” I would go home, fire up my Nintendo, and take it out on the pixilated baddies. Ha! Take that goomba-who-is-an-8-bit-representation-of-that-customer-that-really-pissed-me-off-today! Okay, this seems to me that all I’m talking about is Mario. I mean, I played a lot of Mario as a kid as well as other series, but how does that account for my collection and love of retro games that I’ve only recently discovered?



When I originally started Five Dollar Gamer, I had not really started my retro gaming collection. I was mostly collecting games that I had as a kid, recovering what had been stolen from me in what I refer to as “The Great Nintendo Heist of 2000.” I managed to build that collection back up and then some, but Five Dollar Gamer started when my curiosity was piqued by a $2.99 Super Nintendo game. As a result of this almost 2-year venture, I have amassed nearly 100 “new” games to add to my collection. But what do I find so appealing about these games? These are not games that were a part of my childhood. But a lot of the time, these games hit the right mental notes. I had so much fun playing Solar Striker on the Game Boy, a game I only found out existed hours before the first time I ever played it. I feel it’s because of the similarities of the games I’m used to playing. The race for the high score, the simplicity, and the imagination required to craft your own story. Today’s games have the story spelled out for you. While sometimes that’s pulled of masterfully like in Bioshock or Grand Theft Auto V, for me, the kid who wanted to be the third Mario Brother, a little imagination goes a long way when enjoying an older game.



I don’t want this to come off as I only play old video games when my life is being shitty and I need it as a crutch to not fall further or a ladder to try to climb out. I play it during the happy times too. Everyone loves reminiscing and telling stories from the past. It’s just something that people do when they get together after not seeing each other for a while. We tell old stories. “Hey, remember that one time…?” For some social circles, “Hey, remember that one time…?” could mean “Hey, remember that one time we played 4-player Mario Kart 64 at your mom’s house?” Next thing you know, you and friend are huddled around the TV playing Mario Kart 64 and bringing up more stories. As a result of Five Dollar Gamer, I’ve got to hear from many readers who will suggest a game for me and tell me a story about how awesome it was as a kid, or someone will leave a comment on a game I wrote about sharing a story. It’s awesome.



Retro gaming unites us. It’s so easy to hop online nowadays and connect with a faceless gamer on the other side of the world. But where’s the camaraderie in that? How many people honestly wax nostalgically while sitting in a lobby while waiting for the next Call of Duty deathmatch to start? Hell, how many people are even sharing a laugh when they’re playing against nothing but strangers? Can you imagine if you took four strangers from a deathmatch lobby, sat them on a couch, and had them play Mario Kart? There would be a lot less swearing, name calling, and insult flinging. Sure, there’d likely be some, but not to the degree that you hear when hiding behind the wall of anonymity, and I bet it’d be a hell of a lot more light-hearted. There would be more sharing of stories and of good times past. Get four strangers on a couch. Put a controller in their hands. They’ll find common ground.

Giant Bomb

Giant Bomb

I think the notion that older games aren’t fun is silly. Everyone, one way or another, is nostalgic about the past. Nostalgia transcends different mediums. It’s why your parents listen to classic rock and oldies. It’s why your neighbor takes his ‘67 Ford Mustang to the car show every summer. It’s why you just bought that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt from TeeFury. It’s not necessarily because it’s better. It’s what you grew up with, it’s what you know. When two 10-year-old kids walked into a GameStop I was working at once, a coworker and I happened to be testing a Nintendo Wii. We were playing the NES version of Punch-Out!! that someone had downloaded from the Virtual Console. One kid asked us how it could be possible that this game could be fun. I asked him to clarify. He says “Well, look at the graphics! They’re horrible!” 21-year-old me was angered by his statement. How dare this snot-nosed brat shit on my childhood with his naïve statement! But 27-year-old me can look back at this incident with wiser eyes. All this child knew was realistic 3D graphics. His line of questioning wasn’t malicious in nature. He was just curious why I was riding a bike when I have a car in the garage. He wasn’t old enough to be nostalgic. Maybe when he’s 21 he’ll be feeling nostalgic about Spyro the Dragon (or more likely Grand Theft Auto IV) in the same way I’m nostalgic about Punch-Out.

Video Disc Things/Tumblr

Video Disc Things/Tumblr

In writing this, I’ve learned so much about myself in regards to my treasured hobby. I desire to be a happy person. I desire to make those in my life happy. Retro gaming makes me happy, so naturally it’s something I want to share with others. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not something I like because I’m trying to desperately cling to my youth as I continue to climb in age. It’s just fun. It’s a hobby. It’s partly nostalgia, but not fully. I can have just as much fun with a Super Nintendo game I discovered just recently as I can with one I played when I was 10. I can also have as much fun with a AAA Xbox title from 2013 as I can with an obscure Game Boy game from 1990. Right now, NES Kirby’s Adventure is getting equal attention with Fire Emblem: Awakening on my 3DS. For me gaming transcends the decades. It’s a timeless hobby. The question remains: am I, or anyone else, retro gamers because we play mostly retro games or our collections are mostly retro games? Or are we just gamers?



I’ve had a lot of time on my hands lately. Being that I’m between jobs and without a car, I have plenty of time to kill when I’m not filling out job applications. While watching a speedrun of Super Mario RPG on YouTube one day, I thought to myself “Why don’t I just play it instead of just watching someone?” Not owning a physical copy anymore (thanks to childhood thievery), I fired up the ol’ emulator and set to work recovering the Seven Stars once again.

My history with Super Mario RPG goes way back to 1996, the year the game was released. I was only 9 years old. I was visiting my mom in California that summer. I read in an issue of Nintendo Power about this new Mario game I had never heard of, Super Mario RPG. I was blown away. I had no idea this game existed and it looked WAY different from any Mario game I was familiar with. I also didn’t know what”RPG” stood for. When my mom asked me what “RPG” was, I responded “I don’t know, but it’s Mario, so it has to be good!”


We went on a veritable tour of Los Angeles while I was there, getting to see the sights and theme parks, and other points of interest. Unbeknownst to me, a trip to Chinatown would introduce me to this wondrous new Mario adventure. Taking in the scenery while in the famed area of town, my mom approaches me holding a bag. “Hope I got the right one!” she says. I open the bag and there it is, Super Mario RPG. The game I only found out about mere days before in my hands. Unfortunately, I had not brought my Super Nintendo to California with me, so it would be nearly 2 weeks before I would set off what would be nearly 18 years of endless replaying and wondering why a proper sequel was never made.

Fast forward to about a week ago. I find myself mindlessly grinding through the game, nary a smile gracing my face. Since I rarely engage in marathon gaming sessions, it takes me a few days to make it to Nimbus Land, home town of one-off sidekick, Mallow. This area is roughly ¾ of the way through the game. This is where I stopped. I couldn’t continue. I wasn’t having fun anymore.


I was initially confused when I came to the realization that I wasn’t having fun. But I thought back to when I first started this current playthrough and realized I wasn’t having fun from the get go. What could possibly be the reasoning behind this? Had I become jaded by the complexities of modern gaming? I don’t think so. I enjoy retro gaming just the same, if not more than modern day gaming. I had thought about this over the past few days as I prepared to write this. I settled on a couple reasons why I was no longer having fun with Super Mario RPG.

Super Mario RPG is no longer challenging for me. This may come with the territory of playing a game on a semi-consistent basis for the better part of 18 years, but I don’t think is the sole reason. I play Super Mario Bros. on the NES way more consistently and have done so for much longer than 18 years. Yet I still feel Super Mario Bros is a much more challenging game, especially if I play through the entire game, not using warps. This is not meant to be a knock on Super Mario RPG. The game was not designed to be a hardcore RPG like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger. The game was meant to be a sort of introduction to RPG for players like 9-year-old me who had likely never played, or in my case, heard of an RPG before. I made it to Nimbus Land dying exactly once. I don’t mean entire party. I mean one party member and it was because of an instant KO move I failed to block. I did intentionally game over once, but it was to exploit a known invincibility star trick. This brings me to my next point: I’ve seen all the game has to offer.


Over the course of the years I’ve picked up on many tricks. Whether it was through reading the Official Nintendo Strategy Guide and memorizing enemy weaknesses and total hit points or finding about exploitable tricks like the aforementioned invincibility star trick through the Internet, I have run out of things to explore in this game. I haven’t “100 percented” the game, though. I haven’t collected every single item or found every hidden block on a single playthrough, but it’s not something the game keeps track of anyway, so viewing progress on that would be difficult. It’s also something I don’t have interest in doing. So with that said, there are outside challenges that some may create to add a layer of challenge to the game that aren’t presented in the forefront.

I have absolutely no interest in speedrunning this game. Like I mentioned before, I’m not a marathon gamer. Unless a game truly sucks me in, I usually take a break after an hour or so. The top speedruns on this game clock in at ~3 hours. I really don’t have much of an interest in speedrunning games in general. I enjoy watching them. But outside of seeing how fast I can beat Super Mario Bros., which is only a 10-minutes or less commitment, I don’t like speedrunning games.


There are only so many ways you can play Super Mario RPG. Using a different combination of party members, making different choices when choosing level-up bonuses, and utilizing different equipment, were just some of the ways I tried to jazz up my latest playthrough. But ultimately, it fell short for me. There’s just not a lot of variation you can create when playing through again. Maybe I’m not imaginative enough, I don’t know. I think this may be the biggest problem I have for why I wasn’t having fun. Aside from nostalgia purposes, Super Mario RPG does not have a lot of replay value, for me at least. It hurts me to say that as a gamer that loves the feeling of nostalgia while playing Super Mario Bros. 3 every now and then. Super Mario RPG doesn’t give you a real good reason to jump back into the game for another adventure. There is no New Game+ mode like Chrono Trigger (also developed by Square), and there is nothing that unlocks after beating the game. For the average player, replaying the game entails nothing more than doing it again.

In a weird way I feel kind of guilty for feeling the way I feel now about Super Mario RPG. I don’t think it’s a bad game. In fact, I feel just the opposite. Super Mario RPG is an absolutely fantastic game! I implore anyone that has not played it to give it a look. It’s not as deep in story and features as some other Super Nintendo RPGs, but it’s a unique game and experience in the Super Mario universe, one that hasn’t been replicated by “spiritual successors” like the Mario & Luigi games or the Paper Mario games. For me, the shiny veneer of nostalgia has washed off. It’s not a good feeling. I hope I don’t continue replaying old games only to realize it’s not as good as it once was. I still have very positive memories of Super Mario RPG to hold on to, whether it was through gameplay, or even when I first got the game at 9-years old. In a trip to California that included visits to Disneyland, Universal Studios, a giant water park, and a dip in the Pacific Ocean, I hold receiving Super Mario RPG that day in Chinatown in just as high regard as those other events.


I think it takes a lot for someone to admit when they no longer get the “warm-n-fuzzies” from engaging in a favorite childhood activity. Especially for me when it comes to Mario. This doesn’t mean I like retro gaming any less. I feel that possibly, as I get older and my tastes continue to change, that I’m starting to weed out what I actually still like and what I only think I feel nostalgic about because I continue to look at it through rose-colored glasses. I challenge anyone that reads this: if there is a game you enjoyed in your more youthful days, and you haven’t played it for a while, go ahead and fire it up and see if you still feel the same about it afterwards. This experience has made me realize I can’t be afraid to lose nostalgic feelings about a certain game. The Super Mario franchise is my hands-down #1 favorite, and realizing Super Mario RPG wasn’t fun for me anymore hurt, but I learned a lot about myself through this, and writing this and sharing it with the world is kind of cathartic in a way. Just before I finished typing this up, I redeemed some coins on Club Nintendo for a free download of NES Kirby’s Adventure on the 3DS. I’m going to be very interested to see from here on out if other retro games hold up with the memories I have of them.


(All screenshots used are from

System: Game Boy

Release Date: March 1991 (Game Boy)/January 18th, 2012 (3DS Virtual Console)

Rarity: 48%

Price/Location: $2.99/Nintendo eShop

I love Nintendo. Nintendo is in my blood. Nintendo has been in my house in one form or another since before I was even born (full disclosure: 1987). So when I am virtually strolling along the Virtual Console section of their 3DS eShop, I tend to take their word for it when they upload classic Game Boy games. A lot of these games I had never heard of. I saw it as a virtual goldmine of material. Classic, unknown Game Boy games hand-picked by Nintendo to be shared with gamers worldwide, all priced at under $5 no less! Some of these games I had played before and were better known like Super Mario Land 2 and Kirby’s Dream Land, but the Five Dollar Gamer likes to keep his game review choices as sight unseen as possible.

Shut up Neil deGrasse Tyson or I’ll give you some stars to look at.

I chose Maru’s Misson from the bunch because it was about a ninja. Ninjas are cool. How could I go wrong with this game? It’s from the early 1990s and it’s about ninjas.

This assertion typically applies only to video games.

Before I discuss the game play I wanted to point out the hilariously inaccurate box art. I mentioned this game was about ninjas, but as you can tell from the American box art, there appears to be an average 1991 kid featured. The screenshots shown on the 3DS VC store show a cute little ninja sprite.

Awwww. :3

Why? Why change it? Would Americans not buy a game with ninjas on it? Is it not American enough? Why must we change the box art for game about a freakin’ ninja into one featuring a character who looks NOTHING like his in-game counterpart. It should have prepared me for what I was about to stumble into.

Yeah. That’s stupid. No kid would want that. Give him a backwards cap and a Walkman.

The opening cinematic gives you the bare-bones basics of the razor-thin plot of this game. You, Maru, are walking with your girlfriend, Cori, in New York when a monster jumps out of the water and kidnaps her. That’s it. No dialogue. I forgive this transgression against storytelling because it’s an early-1990s Game Boy game and hope that like Chaos Legion before this, the gameplay will make up for the forgettable (non-) story. So the controls are pretty straightforward and standard platformer fare. A to jump, B to attack/shoot. If you hold A you can jump higher… all the way off the screen even. You’ll eventually come crashing down though, so don’t think you’ll be pulling a Kirby and flying through the level to avoid enemies.


When you throw your shurikens at an enemy and defeat it, you get an item that refills 5 units of health, which is useful because each hit will cost you 10. Now, these health items I’m assuming are supposed to be the spirit of the enemy you killed, but my dirty mind can’t help but wistfully play in the gutter and think it looks like something else…

I’ll just come (pun not intended) out and say it. It looks like sperm.

At about the same point in each level, right near the start you get a random power up such as bombs, comet-looking things that shoot from left to right wiping out any enemy in your way or a warp to the end of the level. Yes. Randomly it will warp you to the end of the level. I’ll talk more about this in the summary. The levels themselves are not too long and before you know it you’re at the first miniboss, Eyeclops. He goes down easy and gives you an item to help fight the level boss, Insector. Now, I don’t mean, you defeat him and an item pops out of nowhere or you gain access to an item he was guarding. He willfully gives it to you saying it will help you defeat the boss.

I’d thank you if your lack of loyalty didn’t sicken me.

You get to Insector beat him and he tells you Cori has been moved to Romania. So off to Romania, right? Whoa, whoa, whoa! Not so fast there, gamer! You’re going to go kill sharks first! …what?!

Ancient ninja secret. They never tell gaijin about the part of ninja training where they use harpoon guns to kill aquatic life.

So then. After that odd distraction, you’re off to Romania now! … … … I said you’re off to Romania now! … … …

Everyone is familiar with the arid Romanian desert right? When I think “Romania” I think “F*** Dracula! Watch out for that killer cacti!”

Whatever. You fight Wolfman and he gives you some garlic to fight Dracula. At least the 2nd part of this level is true to the image one would ACTUALLY think of when picturing Romania. Kill Dracula and he tells you Cori has been moved to Greece where Medusa awaits. They sure are going through a lot of trouble to keep Cori away from me. Greece is some kind of underground bone dungeon. I made it to the miniboss, Golem. That’s where I stopped. I’ll explain why.


This game pissed me off. The flimsy story, questionable shark killing, and misused environments are one thing, but on 3 separate playthroughs I made it to the Golem and died. What happens when you die? Well, let me show you:

Push Start… to waste your time.

No lives. No continues. Die, and it’s back to the title screen. Remember when I said I’ll talk more about the “warp to the boss” power-up? I wanted to talk about it here because it’s one of the things that pissed me off about this game. I started off one particular level low on health and had planned on meticulously defeating enemies and gaining health so that I had plenty of leeway in battling the boss. Nope. I warped to the end of the level still low on health and soon to be destroyed by said boss. The health power ups are useless since you lose more when you get hit than you gain by getting the health item. In many games it’s a 1:1 ratio or a #>1:1 ratio. In this game it’s 1:2. Sure, it makes it challenging. But when there are so many freaking enemies on screen, they’re hard to avoid. Not to mention, said enemy count causes some significant slowdown. Nintendo may have acquired the rights to distribute a bunch of Jaleco Game Boy games digitally, but that doesn’t mean that should have. I can’t vouch for the other Jaleco games they put up on there, but this game doesn’t make me want to take a shot at them. If you have a 3DS, please, leave this game in the virtual bargain bin. You can do way better for about $3.

Like using that $3 to buy (roughly) a gallon of gas to drive to the store to by a better game.

That does it for Episode 4 of Five Dollar Gamer! If you want to leave comments, praise, criticisms, or suggestions you can leave them here, or on The Official Five Dollar Gamer Facebook Page!

Thanks for reading!