Tuesday, 23 August 2011

An Interview with Eric "Nintendo Legend" Bailey

I recently stumbled across a great website, NintendoLegend.com, which sees reviewer Eric Bailey playing through every single Nes game which gained a North American release. The list is huge, so this is an impressive feat.

Here you'll see the chat I had with Eric about his challenge, his love of retro gaming, and more Nes related questions. 

Q: Welcome to 8-Bit Girl! Fancy introducing yourself?

A: Sure – I am Eric “Nintendo Legend” Bailey, the crazy retro gamer who runs NintendoLegend.com and has an absolute blast and a half doing it.

Q: Wow. Your site, Nintendo Legend sees you playing through and reviewing every North American NES game made. That's quite a challenge! What made you decide to embark on this epic task in the first place?

A: Well, I suppose it represents the intersection between my ongoing bout with insanity and my obsession with lists. But, really, it is a perfect combination of two of my biggest passions: Writing and video games. I am also a very goal-oriented person; I like to set one big goal at a time, then actually do it. Right now, in my life, the Nintendo Legend project is my One Big Goal. It sounded like fun, and I tend to enjoy things that are fun, so I figured what the heck, let's play a whole bunch of old video games. I started it up last year and will be going at it for a while.

Q: It's clear that you favour retro games in particular. What is it about playing through retro games that appeals to you so much?

A: Someday I plan on writing a lengthy treatise in order to fully explain the appeal and relevance of retro gaming; in the meantime, I feel that the preservation of historical, influential titles is important, and that many of these “old games” are simply still very fun. Part of the reason is my pace – Even all these years later, I just feel like I am not finished with the NES yet. I have yet to completely wring all of the possible fun out of that console. I am also definitely part of the crowd that feels like the significance of gameplay outweighs the importance of graphics, and there is a certain profundity to playing the original groundbreaking titles that went on to permanently influence the gaming scene, as opposed to yet another military-themed first-person shooter.

Q: Why did you decide to start writing about video games?

A: I have dabbled in freelance writing for a few years now, and anyone who does a decent amount of freelance work will probably tell you that it is easiest, most lucrative, and most efficient to write about what you know. I am not a very smart person, so there are not many areas I have any useful knowledge in, but I spent an awful lot of time playing the NES growing up, so writing about video games eventually made a lot of sense to me. I can say that it was more of a natural, organic transition than a true “hey I'm gonna write about video games now” decision.

Q: Everyone loves reading a review of an awful game from time to time. Have there been any so far in your list that you would rather not mention again?

A: Oh, yes – there are some titles I just find useless and not worthwhile at all (Color A Dinosaur, Blackjack), but if I had to pick one game to never mention again, it would be Urban Champion. While there is an outside shot that its “innovation” influenced the future fighting-game genre, there is simply so little to the gameplay experience that it is almost depressing – yet they are releasing it on the 3DS! Hearing about it almost makes me ill and I would just like to move on entirely.

Q: Can you recommend an excellent NES title or two for my readers to play, and why?

A: Sure, I can recommend two excellent games to try:

1) StarTropics. This may be my favorite video game of all time. In summary: This is an overhead adventure title split into dungeon and overworld elements, with escalating health & weapons, and an intriguingly distinctive plot that follows a baseball-playing Mike in search of his missing scientist uncle across tropical islands. The graphical, auditory, mechanical, and immersive aspects of the game are all outstanding, and the challenge level appropriately ramps up steeply as the game progresses, culminating in among the most rewarding video game endings ever directed. Let yourself fall into it and get caught up in the saga that continues in its sequel, Zoda's Revenge.

2) Little Samson. The story behind this cartridge is like a tragedy: Developer Taito
put a ton of hard, caring work into this game, something of a last-ditch effort for them to find a big hit. Unfortunately, by the time it was released in mid-1992, the 16-bit scene was the dominant demand and the game simply did not sell very well, making the cart rare to this day. If you do get to play it, though, you will discover one of the most tightly honed, gorgeous, skillfully crafted platformers ever made.

Q: And finally, what games are you planning on completing and reviewing next?

A: It really is a shame you asked me at this particular time, because I do not have a solid vision at the moment – much of which is because I am getting married in a couple weeks and counting on the site to go on hiatus for a period! Then again, I rarely do have a concrete order in mind, which allows a nice sense of flexibility and surprise. That being said, let's just say right now I have my eyes on basketball games, a few action movie license titles, and a couple obscure/unique cartridges.

8-Bit Girl: Thank you for answering my questions Eric, and all the best for your wedding and on-going Nes challenge!

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