Interviews

Retro Replay arcade — A MegaBites interview

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While the modern-day arcade scene may pale in comparison to the innovation, sights, sounds (and cigarette smoke) of the coin-op scene’s glory days, a rising number of new locations are proudly waving the flag for arcade heritage. One of these venues is Norwich’s Retro Replay — the UK’s newest retro arcade. MegaBites spoke to Retro Replay’s owner, Glen McDonald, to get the lowdown on this newest of old-school gaming havens.

During the 1970s, 80s and 90s, there were arguably few experiences in gaming that could match the thrill and atmosphere of the arcade. The sights, the sounds and the heated competition for high scores under darkened light were near-impossible to replicate elsewhere — and still are. Arcades were the epicentre of gaming culture, a forum to battle for scoreboard supremacy, an arena to experience the very latest in video game technologies and experiences. 

Fast forward to 2019 and the launch of the Retro Replay arcade. Opened in September of this year, Retro Replay  is situated over two floors, in Norwich’s Castle Quarter shopping centre. Lit only by a combination of blue and purple neon, visitors are tempted inside by the inviting glow of cabinets including Virtua Fighter, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Galaxian, Lethal Enforcers and Ridge Racer — to name but a few. Meanwhile, the arcade’s ground floor is home to rows of retro consoles consoles, cocktail-style cabinets and bean bags sat beneath vast screen projections of Mario Kart.

For the price of a £10 day pass, visitors are free to play any game of their choice against a backdrop of chiptunes, frantic button-bashing, the cheers of gaming triumph and the groans of lives lost.

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The person responsible for this fun-filled oasis is its owner, 24-year-old Glen McDonald, who switched his day job as an account to launch Retro Replay, and share his collection of cabinets and passion for arcade gaming with the public. MegaBites spoke to Glen to find out more about the venue.

Continue reading “Retro Replay arcade — A MegaBites interview”

Memories

Aladdin 26 years later — is Capcom’s title the rightful heir to the sultan’s throne?

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Since its release in 1993, Aladdin for the Mega Drive has been widely regarded as the superior of the platformer’s 16-bit outings. But 26 years later, could it be that favour is shifting towards Capcom’s Super Nintendo edition, including, incredibly, my own?

Prompted by the Sega title’s anniversary, and its recent 2019 remaster for modern consoles and PC, I approached the SNES version for the very first time for a balanced consideration of the argument and a glimpse into a whole new world — of video gaming, that is.

(N.B. This article references the original 1993 edition of Sega’s Aladdin throughout.)

To this very day, Aladdin on the Mega Drive has remained one of my favourite platformers on the console. Since its release in 1993, I’d even go so far as to say it’s remained one of my top platformers, full stop.

Then a strange thing happened. Earlier this year, Disney released its live action version of Aladdin in the cinemas. Rather than convince me to buy a cinema ticket, it drove me to blow the dust from my cartridge and revisit my Mega Drive edition of Aladdin.

And it seems I wasn’t the only one…

Around the time of Aladdin’s 2019 cinema release, the Retronauts podcast released an episode rather temptingly named ‘Aladdin Games’. Its online notes read:

“Virgin Interactive’s Genesis game mostly overshadowed Capcom’s SNES interpretation thanks to still-impressive technical tricks, but the conventional wisdom about the Sega version being superior might not hold together 2.5 decades later.”

So I gave the Retronauts episode a listen. To my surprise, the Sega version came off worse — by a very, very wide margin. Then it dawned on me — I’d never played Aladdin for the Super Nintendo.

Was Retronauts right? Could it be possible for the SNES version to rival its Sega counterpart? There was nothing for it, I had to see for myself.

I had to play Aladdin for the Super Nintendo.

Continue reading “Aladdin 26 years later — is Capcom’s title the rightful heir to the sultan’s throne?”

Retrospectives

Cart Wars: The Evolution of the Cartridge, Episode 2 – MegaBites on RetroCollect.com

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Avert thine eyes! Nintendo alert! Once more, this site is graced with imagery of Sega’s mortal enemy, and for that I apologise. However, it’s all for a good cause – MegaBitesBlog.com’s latest article on RetroCollect.com – ‘Cart Wars: The Evolution of the Cartridge, Episode 2’.

During the early-to-mid 1990s, the bitter rivalries between the console superpowers were hard to ignore. It was Sega vs Nintendo, plumbers vs hedgehogs and Mega Drive vs Super Nintendo. Amongst these battles, one gaming format had risen to the top to rule supreme over the video game industry – the cartridge. ‘Cart Wars: The Evolution of the Cartridge’ is the story of that medium, and with it, the incredible lengths taken by developers of that age to topple the competition and reshape the gaming market forever. Continue reading “Cart Wars: The Evolution of the Cartridge, Episode 2 – MegaBites on RetroCollect.com”