Route 16 Turbo & Challenger retrospective: Wheeling into the future | NES Works Gaiden #044

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The two games in this episode have almost zero profile in the West, what with the whole "never having been released outside of Japan" thing. And yet, both hold what is in my opinion a fairly significant place in Famicom history (and therefore, by the transitive property, in NES history as well). Route 16 Turbo matters for what it symbolizes for Sunsoft; it offers our first glimpse into the company's talent for reworking existing concepts into something new and different, and it remains a pretty entertaining game nearly 40 years on. Challenger, on the other hand, does NOT remain entertaining. However, its sprawling, multi-modal game design offers a foretaste of the design methodology that would become standard fare on this platform: Action games turned immersive adventure, arcade twitch concepts infused with greater depth and substance. Also, lots of cheap untelegraphed deaths to pad play time. It feels like a more fully realized take on high-concept Atari 2600 titles like E.T., but vastly less abstract. Which is to say that developers were finally beginning to realize that console tech had begun to catch up to their grandest creative ambitions beyond simple coin-op experiences. Production notes: Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more! NES/Famicom footage captured from @Analogue Nt Mini; arcade footage captured from MiSTer with thanks to @MiSTer Addons. Video upscaled to 720 with @Micomsoft xRGB Mini Framemeister.

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