For the arcade game fan who plays arcade games at home, "MAMExpose" presents you with the many joys - and pitfalls - of emulation, specifically those found while using our favorite program in the universe: MAME.

by Rob "Flack" O'Hara

Old man winter is upon us once again like brown on beans. I love winter, but I hate the cold, the snow, the ice, the wind … hmm, you know what? The more I think about it, I don’t think I like winter at all – I just like playing winter-related games in MAME! Don’t stand out in the cold this year! Make yourself a mug of hot chocolate, fire up your MAME playing machine of choice and try out some of these wintery ROMs instead! Go ahead, there is no flake on the list! Get it? S’no flake? Snowflake? Ha, I kill me!

Snow Brothers – Nick & Tom (Toaplan/Romstar, 1990)
Snow Bros 2 – With New Elves (Toaplan/Hanafram, 1994)
Winter Bobble (Sakowa Project, 1990, clone of Snow Brothers)

Fans of the Bubble Bobble series will love this wintertime update to the classic game. Instead of Bub and Bob, Snow Brothers stars two snowmen with particularly un-wintery names, Nick and Tom. Like Bubble Bobble, the goal of Snow Brothers is to clear each level of all enemies. Instead of blowing bubbles, Nick and Tom throw snow. Hit an enemy three or four times, and he’ll turn into a big snowball. Then you can stand next to the snowball and kick it, sending it rolling and flying around the screen. The more creatures you defeat with a single snowball, the bigger your bonus will be! With its fun graphics and quick action, Snow Brothers is a classic platformer that everyone should give a spin. If you love it, check out Snow Brothers 2 for more of the same, including more playable characters, more levels, more enemies and more fun.

Alpine Ski (Taito, 1981)

For some reason there were a lot of skiing games in the early days of videogames. It probably has something to do with the fact that snow is very easy to draw (color the screen white – you’re done!). Despite graphics, skiing games haven’t changed much over the past 25 years. The goal of Alpine Ski is to zoom downhill, avoiding rocks, trees, snowmobiles and fellow skiers while picking up point bonuses. Later levels include slalom racing (replace obstacles with flags) and a ski jump competition. Alpine Ski is both simple and challenging, making it completely addictive. There are plenty of games out there with better graphics, but for a quick round of retrogaming fun Alpine Ski is worth a spin.

Vs. Slalom (Nintendo, 1986)

The second skiing game on the list is Vs. Slalom. I remember playing this game in the arcade and trying to balance myself on those wobbly ass skis that stuck out of the front of this game. Fortunately for you at home, this game can be played just fine with a joystick instead. I remember this game being pretty hard back in the day – maybe it’s because I was steering with my feet back then. Using a joystick, even beginner gamers should have no problem shredding their way through Vs. Slalom in record time. Players looking for a real challenge should try steering with their feet. Or you could just use your feet to walk away from this game.

Snow Board Championship (Gaelco, 1997)

Ah. Snowboarding, the winter sport of Generation X’ers everywhere. Snow Board Championship has some really great graphics, but don’t get your hopes up. After selecting my course and picking a snowboarder, I began my downhill adventure. I whipped a hard left into the first corner and kept going. At the next corner, a sharp right, I turned left. Hey, didn’t I press right? At the next right, I turned left again. Pressing left on your joystick turns left. Pressing right on your joystick turns left. Pressing up or down on your joystick also turns your snowboarder left. I even tried pulling three lefts at each right hand turn, but unfortunately your turning radius is so large I just kept smashing into the fence. If you’re looking for a good looking and yet ultimately unplayable snowboarding game, Snow Board Championship is for you. It’s too bad, since this one looks really good too.

Hit the Ice (Williams, 1990)
2-on-2 Open Ice Challenge (Midway, 1995)

I included both of these games together as they’re very similar. Both games are hockey games in the vein of NBA Jam and NFL Blitz. Williams’ Hit the Ice has more of an old school, 2D feel, while 2 on 2 Open Ice Challenge has an updated graphical style. Both games include lots of aggressive offense attacks. Hit the Ice reminds me of the popular WWF wrestling games of the early 90’s that were popular. 2 on 2 Open Ice Challenge will instantly remind players of NFL Blitz and NBA Jam in both its graphics and game play. If you like hockey, videogames, and punching people, check out both of these classic hockey games.

Pengo (Sega, 1982)

You know me – I have to end on an old school note. Pengo is the quintessential block pushing game. The goal seems simple enough; push the ice blocks around, crushing Sno-Bees and lining up each level’s three diamond blocks. The first time I saw Pengo it reminded me of Pac-Man, except in this game you could move actually the blocks around which made up the maze! Once you master the art of kicking ice blocks around, you won’t feel nearly as helpless against the Sno-Bees. Pengo can be tough for beginners, but it’s a chillingly good game that even veteran gamers will consider challenging!

And there you have it! Don’t risk getting frostbite this year – experience winter how it was meant to be: behind a computer monitor. Enjoy!

You've played plenty of bad games on game consoles, but what about bad arcade games? In the next MAMExpose, we'll look at a few titles that aren't worth a second look, let alone a second quarter.

A new "MAMExpose" can be found here bi-monthly!

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Last updated: Monday, July 04, 2005 10:03 PM