The Backlog 01 – Rogue Agents

The premiere issue of The Backlog reminisces on ToeJam and Earl (1991), explores its importance in the canon, and delves into a little bit of the history behind the game, its creator, and the future of the franchise.

The Backlog is a zine in which we pick a single game and craft a focused essay on the topic.

The following zine is available for free online, or you may visit our online store to purchase for $2 (plus 50 cents shipping).


Rogue Agents

For the past few years, every other game released outside of the mainstream has been described, in one review or another, as a “roguelike”. The term has become synonymous with certain game mechanics, such as randomized levels and weapon drops, extreme difficulty, and the inability to continue after the player character dies. But the roots of the term come from the game Rogue which came out in 1980 on Unix-based systems and, many people believe, established itself with NetHack in 1987. In fact, purists of the “genre” argue that a game is only a “roguelike” if it mimics all of the factors set at the 2008 International Roguelike Development Conference in Berlin, Germany. This list of factors has been nicknamed the “Berlin Interpretation”. Any game that doesn’t include all of these factors (such as turn-based actions, resource management, and the ability to interact with items in a multitude of ways) can only be considered a “rogue-lite” or a “roguelike-like”.

One of the earliest, more popular “rogue-lites” came from the Sega Master System/Sega Genesis. This premiere issue of The Backlog is going to reminisce on this game, explore its importance in the canon, and delve into a little bit of the history behind the game, its creator, and the future of the franchise.

(click here to read the rest of the issue)

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