Duke 3D

Duke Nukem 3D is back (again) like an old uncle telling 20-year-old jokes

Like uncovering a spiral-bound notebook full of junior high poetry, Duke Nukem 3D (1996) is back once again to remind you of what passed for “edgy” in the late 90s. After a half-dozen repackaged versions over the past few years, a sizable anniversary is enough for Gearbox Software, the current stewards of 3D Realm’s 1996 FPS “classic,” to give everyone another chance to re-purchase it. Including a brand-spanking new lighting system and a fifth episode created by the game’s original level designers, Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour manages to play the way you remember the game and thankfully…


The videogame world of HBO’s Westworld

Based on the 1973 film by Michael Crichton of the same name, HBO’s Westworld has taken the original’s hackneyed premise of a couple tourists escaping from the Delos Corporation’s various time-focused theme parks (Medieval World, West World, and Roman World), and shifted it into a refined look at what it means to be human, the nature of memory, and the true extent of humankind’s appetite for depravity. With “over 100 interconnected storylines” programmed into the park’s daily routine, the world they’ve created resembles a heightened version of the storytelling that players of modern RPGs have grown accustomed to. That connection to…

Merger 3D

Merger 3D combines the best and worst of 90s shareware

Nostalgia for the 1990s seems to have become the stock in trade for videogames over the past few years. I’m thinking of the tongue-in-cheek revisit to MS-DOS’s glory days of Vlambeer’s GUN GODZ (2012) and the brutal, tasteful modern reconfiguration of the 90s shooter in this year’s Devil Daggers. But these are exceptions, as drawing from that well is typically an exercise in diminishing returns. A new shooter, Merger 3D, is testament to this, as it showcases the best and worst of the 90s shareware aesthetic. The title weighs in at a svelte 10 MB, and supposedly will run on every Windows OS…


Moon Hunters is about legends, but isn’t quite legendary

Our ancestors courageously spoke their minds, fought against tyranny, ended wars, and along the way also probably made a lot of really stupid mistakes. Just because we don’t care as much about our time-honored heroes’ failures doesn’t mean they didn’t happen, it just proves that history has a way of selective forgetfulness. The truth? Our legends aren’t always necessarily as legendary as we’d have liked them to have been. Johnny Appleseed’s countless apple trees bore mostly inedible fruit, designed to produce lucrative cider, rather than out of an altruistic goal to feed the masses. Paul Revere may have ridden to…


Everyone should be squirming to play Push Me Pull You

Sweating, writhing, fleshy worms are locked in combat with each other. Their two heads and four arms struggle to maintain dominance over one another. It’s a vicious and gross game of sport. And yet it is somehow completely, utterly adorable. Push Me Pull You lands somewhere between sumo wrestling, a soccer match, and the body-horror nightmare of The Human Centipede (2010). It has two teams of two players competing to gain control of the ball on a playfield, each pair working together to wriggle their conjoined bodies cooperatively to score points. The maneuvers available to each player at either end…


Devil Daggers is one hell of a time

To play Devil Daggers is to die again and again. Anguish is constant. It’s never clear what the player has done to be locked in this eternal struggle. Every playthrough opens with a darkened room except for a single source of light, a floating blade. Touching it is apparently a damning offense, and that’s when the horrors begin. Rounds can last mere seconds, missteps compounding upon each other until you’ve found yourself knee-deep in the undead, where inscrutable tentacled horrors are eager to feast on the living. Swarms of chattering skulls are belched out of tentacled turret-like floating pillars. Skull-backed…


The Deadly Tower of Monsters revels in the schlock of B-movies

Bad movies can be a laugh to watch. It’s best done with a certain camaraderie, a group of buddies getting together to voluntarily partake in schlock, probably with alcohol and snacks to push them through it.Hell, Mystery Science Theater 3000’s (1988-99) Joel Hodgson has made an entire career out of that idea alone. But stripped of the jokes, there’s only so many rubber-masked martians and tin foil spaceships held aloft by fishing wire that your average viewer can tolerate. Let’s be real: no one is earnestly watching 1950s camp like This Island Earth (1955) for its cinematic merits. The cornball…


Replaying Yoda Stories, the most 1997 Star Wars game imaginable

Yoda Stories wasn’t much more than a lightweight diversion for preteens with a propensity to hog time on the family desktop. With an overhead view, players guided a cartoonishly large-headed Luke Skywalker, ordered by Yoda to visit various planets to save his friends, collect piles of robot junk, and swing a lightsaber around. The game was an installment in LucasArts’ stalled “Desktop Adventure” series—low-key, cutesy titles that require about as much investment as your average game of Minesweeper or Solitaire. It spit out randomly created maps of various Star Wars-esque locales. (Desert planet? Frozen planet? Forest planet? Check, check, check).…