Edutainment is a noble concept, and simple enough. You’re more likely to retain knowledge of something if it’s fun, right? In the case of video games it appears to have worked somewhat – many children of the late 80s and early 90s have fond memories of Math Blaster, The Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, to name a few. The latter of those is of particular interest here, as it appears to have inspired Michael and John O’brien of Australian-based Newbyte Educational Software to create Wanted: Ned Kelly.
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Platform: Sega Mega Drive, Sega Mega CD, Commodore Amiga
Traveller’s Tales have an interesting history in that though they’ve been around since the early 90’s and have developed a lot of great selling games (i.e., the Lego series of games), they’ve never actually had their own intellectual property – they’ve always done work for other people. They started off working with Psygnosis (now known as Studio Liverpool and sadly made defunct by Sony Computer Entertainment) on Leander, an Amiga game similar to Shadow of the Beast and a game based on the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula for the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo (other console versions were handled by Probe Entertainment or an internal Psygnosis team). Their third game, Puggsy, is something special.
Blade Runner was one of the most influential films of the 80’s. Its influence on design, atmosphere and storytelling can still be felt in movies to this day. Like just about any movie, good or bad, it had a video game tie-in, right? Well sort of.
WARNING A HUGE BATTLESHIP
IS APPROACHING FAST
Genre: Horizontal Shooter
Also on: Saturn/PlayStation/Windows/PlayStation 2/Xbox
It’s hard to believe that at one point, arcades were dominated by “shooters”. Not first-person shooters such as Doom or Quake, but games where you had a small spaceship (or plane, as was the case with Capcom‘s 1942) and fired upon waves and waves of enemies, generally of the alien variety. In 1978, Taito more or less invented the genre, depending on your views of Spacewar!, and really pushed video games into public knowledge with Space Invaders. Space Invaders was one of those games which managed to become a household name and in Japan even managed to create a shortage of 100 yen coins. It was a fairly simple game. You had a spaceship, positioned at the bottom of the screen, and shot at blocky aliens who somewhat resembled sea critters. This last part leads us to 1986, where some crazy whackjob at Taito decided to make a game where you shot at giant mechanical fish, with the action taking place across three monitors to give it a huge widescreen look. Weirdness aside, the first couple of Darius games were very by-the-numbers shooters. They weren’t bad, but nothing special. And then, in 1994, Darius Gaiden was released.
Also on: Mega Drive
Do you like pinball? How about 16-bit metal? Are you a fan of hitting demons with a steel ball? If you answered “yes” to any one of those, you’ll find something to like about Compile’s heretical pinball release. It improved upon their previous “Crush” game, Alien’s Crush, in quite a few ways – the major one being that the table now scrolls with the ball. In Alien’s Crush, when you hit the middle of the screen, it would blank out for roughly half a second and change to the other part of the table. As you can guess, that got annoying pretty quickly. There’s also a lot more going on this time around. A giant woman’s face grafted to some bizarre machine/armour contraption is in the absolute centre of the play-field, the “She Giant” bizarrely highlighted on the rear of the box. The more you thwack it with your ball, the more it slowly transforms from human to some unsettling demon-snake hybrid. It changes back afterwards, but it’s still very odd. Also notable, right up the top is a big glowing pentagram with robed “followers” circling it, whom you can hit and destroy. They’re obviously bad people and deserve to be hit with a big ball of metal that’s roughly twice the size of themselves.