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Classics and cash-ins: the unsung brilliance of video game compilations | Games

It’s been a busy month for nostalgic video game compilations. Sonic Origins collects the first four Sonic the Hedgehog titles, the Capcom Fighting Collection brings together various titles from the Darkstalkers and Street Fighter ranges as well as a couple of rarities, and Pac-Man Museum + gathers an astonishing 14 Pac-Man games from the past 40 years. Cynics may suggest we live in an age of endless nostalgia and brand regurgitation, but compilations have always been a staple of the video game industry. I know, because I’ve bought most of them.

Back in the home computer era of the 1980s, game compilations were a common way of scraping just a little more revenue from titles that had slipped from the software charts. Four or five releases would be crammed on to two tapes and distributed in large, twin-cassette boxes with exciting names such as Solid Gold, Heatwave and Mega-Hot. The legendary Manchester-based publisher Ocean was an absolute master at these, creating themed compilations, with lively and exciting packaging resembling the action movie video covers of the era. I had Live Ammo, which contained the excellent second world war strategy adventure Great Escape as well as scrolling shooters Green Beret and Rambo. Meanwhile, Magnificent Seven boasted the classics Wizball and Head Over Heels as well as the not-so-classic tie-in with Sylvester Stallone’s 1986 Cobra movie. But that was the thing with these collections: you accepted there would be a couple of stinkers in there, and it was fun to discover terrible B-games amid the gold.

Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors in the Capcom Fighting Collection.
Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors in the Capcom Fighting Collection. Photograph: Capcom

In an era before the internet, it was also harder to know whether a new game was any good, and not everyone could afford a magazine subscription – so game compilations took on a vital curatorial role. Compilations such as They Sold a Million and the Zzap! 64 Sizzler Collection provided a way to ensure you got quality games to play, even if you’d never seen them before. For me, a school kid with 50p a week pocket money and a high quality-control bar, they were a revelation.

But this was also the era of exploitation and chicanery in the games business, which was still in its infancy. If you were a young gamer in the early 1980s, who read magazines or comics, you would have seen the infamous advert for the mail order only compilation Cascade Cassette 50, a collection of games mostly written in BASIC and never commercially available elsewhere. Originally programmed by Cascade’s founder Guy Wilhelmy, they were the sorts of games you’d usually type into the computer yourself from magazine listings or early programming books. But Wilhelmy’s excellent print adverts promised a spectacular collection of gaming treasures, and offered a free Timex digital watch to purchasers. The compilation sold hundreds of thousands of copies across multiple computers, and when Wilhelmy found he didn’t have time to program them all, he put ads in local papers offering a tenner for new games.

There was also the similarly notorious Don’t Buy This compilation from Firebird, a budget collection of the five worst games submitted to the publisher. It was launched almost as a joke on 1 April 1985, and went on to commercial success. The publisher doubled down on the fun, releasing the copyright so anyone could copy it and sending out stickers to anyone who wrote in to complain.

In the 1990s, with the arrival of the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn, things got a bit more serious. The increased storage space offered by CD-Roms and advances in emulation coding led to a new era of serious compilations functioning almost like academic archives of treasured artworks. The Namco Museum series for the PlayStation matched beautiful packaging and presentation with genuine arcade classics such as Pac-Man, Galaga and Pole Position, as well as a wealth of extra features including digitised copies of the original advertising flyers and cabinet art photos.

Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade on Xbox 360.
Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade on Xbox 360. Photograph: Namco

Lots of veteran Japanese developers devised their own versions – the Sega Ages Memorial Selection, Konami Antiques, Capcom Generation – all lovingly transferred and laden with extras. Analogous to lavish special edition music CDs or director’s cut DVDs, these compilations were a recognition that the gaming audience was maturing and becoming discerning about their collections. Fans were seeing games not just as momentary time-wasters, but as cultural artefacts.

This was also the era in which we started to see compilations of Japanese titles that never made it to the west in their original formats. My favourite example was Bishi Bashi Special, a PlayStation collection of Konami’s hilarious Bishi Bashi arcade titles, which featured a huge range of bizarre mini-games.

In the 2000s, Nintendo indulged the new mainstream audiences attracted to its Game Boy and DS handheld consoles with a range of compilations, based on comforting, recognisable experiences. The Nintendo DS Classic Games collection included everything from chess, backgammon and draughts to poker, while the Wii’s most successful titles were often mini-game compilations – Wii Sports, Mario Party, Carnival Games – designed to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible.

Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 and PS3 provided a lot more computing power, and therefore a wider range of emulated and updated titles. The market moved on from compilations of old arcade games to classic 8- and 16bit console titles. The brilliant Mega Drive Mega collections and SNK’s Neo Geo Battle assortments were rich with nostalgic delights from the recent past, providing instant libraries of retro games. We also started to see high definition remasters of near contemporary hits: the luscious Devil May Cry HD and Metal Gear Solid HD collections, the absolutely essential Ico and Shadow of the Colossus release, the ridiculously good value Orange Box games had become like favourite albums and movies, updated and released for each new generation.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection trailer

My best days as a young gamer were when I went to WH Smith or Debenhams in Stockport town centre and found a Commodore 64 compilation on sale, and I’d get a few acclaimed games (and a couple of interesting stinkers) for two or three pounds. I’d be excited all the way home on the bus. Whether the games were good or bad or weird, it didn’t matter: my weekend was sorted.

I still love compilations, even in this era of MAME mini-consoles. I like to see games packaged and presented together, I like to think about the curation process; I like to skip between each game, spotting similarities and diversions, and seeing how ideas evolved. In this era of mass instant availability, aggregation is really valuable. A video game compilation is like a good display in a bookstore: titles you barely know, together with ones you’ve perhaps always loved and want to experience again, put together in a pleasing way.

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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.

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