NES

One of the most iconic systems since the Atari 2600. The NES changed the way we looked at console gaming. Here you will find reviews for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy

Flintstones: The Rescue Of Dino & Hoppy looks pretty, sharp, and pretty sharp. The animated sprites are drawn well, the enemy designs are competent, and the levels vary widely in their appearance. Even the signature style from the show is used for Fred’s walk animation, with his exaggerated leg movements. The way Fred can creep along while holding B for a club strike is enjoyable. Yet among the strengths are a couple noticeable flaws: Primarily, the one-color backgrounds in some bits, startling when jumping across a broad chasm; and, in the game’s ambition, there are some minor flickering issues when dealing with the larger foe creatures. [...]

8 Eyes

The gameplay is as tough as you’ll find. I guess you can’t say it’s Battletoads tough but more like a very tough side scroller that you don’t want to play again. The game has decent controls but the monsters come from all places! You can’t find yourself in a good position at most of the times. Your bird doesn’t help much, you are at a loss!! HELPPP!!! [...]

Mappy-Land

Sometimes the trampolines are a bit touchy, and the third-level vines especially so. In fact, this entire game has a very distinct feel to its controls that takes some getting used to. Once you get used to it, you will find yourself smoothly traveling between the floors, using the trampolines, setting the in-level traps, grabbing the items, and traversing along as you conquer level after level, until the welcome reprieve in the castle side-level (like the church or haunted house on level six) of level eight when you race to try and gather the items in time for Mappy’s family member’s birthday party, etc. This is among the most obviously arcade-inspired of the NES games. [...]

Mike Tyson’s Punch Out

The musical score of this game is quite astounding. Did I mentioned there are only a couple of songs in the entire game? Well, they do the right job that’s for sure. The music will get you pumped up while the sound effects will reflect on how well you are doing in the fight. Be sure to tap the buttons real fast if you want to get up and fight again! You have been warned… [...]

Beetlejuice

This game looks okay. There are some still frames that look like characters from the movie, and one particularly creepy face shot of Beetlejuice that is reused every time something happens. But the actual gameplay graphics are not indicative of a producer that cared about its product, as the insect enemies look a little worse than generic and even the bosses are uninspired and bare-minimum. The highlight may be the infamous “snake” villain, which is truly frightening; though, this could just be because it is impossible to kill. [...]

Pinball Quest

The level design in the game is creative and every level carries a different objective. As you climb your way towards the top you will find the one annoying feature of this game, as everytime you lose on a stage you will drop down to the last and be forced to fight your way back up. A concept that keeps you playing and occasionally keeps you frustrated. The game features no game over, so there is no real reason to quit. [...]

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

The game provides a decent pace of action; not quite Ninja Gaiden or Mega Man, but a respectable clip nonetheless, while traversing through the historical context of such areas as World War II-era Germany. There is even a flight level where Indy participates in dogfights with enemy planes, zeppelin, and even fights the Red Baron. Touches like that add to the appeal as Indy ends up killing a few actual historical figures; though, in classic NTSC-region censorship, there is no outright reference to Nazis or swastikas to be found. [...]

Demon Sword

This can be a difficult game to master, especially some of the boss fights, but once you get the hang of the patterns of the infinitely generated hordes of enemies, it becomes a fun little romp. Victar can collect different power-ups; some that increase his life or respawn, others that change his speed or the speed of his darts, one that shortly allows him to throw darts in four different directions at one time, and keys that open special areas that reward miniboss-beatdowns with devastating special spells. [...]

Vegas Dream

Vegas Dream features multiple game modes such as slot machines, Black Jack, Roulette, and even Keno (if you didnt get enough of playing that in the bar). But what makes this game stand apart from the rest is the added scenarios that happen at random… say an unfamiliar woman offers to watch a show with you. Maybe her intentions are good, or maybe she wants to steal your wallet and throw your money all over the Black Jack table. [...]

Twin Bee

The gameplay is truly enjoyable! I can’t say enough! The game is short but fun and quite challenging. If you think the first stage was easy, they are just easing you in. Be sure to get all the power ups early on because you are going to need them. The game does a great job at raising the bar in difficulty although the enemies are quite simple if you learn the patterns and even then some don’t have patterns and you just have to shoot and move. Fun fun fun ! [...]

1943: The Battle of Midway

This game offers a true test, even for shoot-’em fans. The design is tight, the waves approach with just the right mix of anxious panic without seeming completely impossible, and the entirety feels appropriately tense, even desperate, maybe adrenaline-pumping. The projectiles fly fast, there are pleasant little pacing cuts between levels, and points are kept for those old-school arcade-style high-score seekers. In fact, some bonus items occasionally emerge to be picked up for a tidy allotment, such as a cow or strawberry. Seriously. [...]

Batman

It remains to be one of the more memorable games of my childhood, and features one of the most unforgiving final boss fights I’ve ever encountered in a game. This game is based on the first Batman movie, although you may forget that once you see batmans purple suit, never before seen enemies, and some off the wall boss fights. You will find yourself beating down enemies, ninja gaiden wall jumping, and batarang spamming all the way to the Joker. A challenging, exciting, and highly enjoyable game in every way… this is one you dont want to skip over. [...]

Barbie

Each “level” of this “game” is actually a dream that Barbie is having, which is a convenient cop-out way to explain the ridiculous elements in each stage. Nonetheless, Barbie is armed to confront her adversaries with projectiles that never seem to hit anything, despite their somewhat potentially interesting mechanic of traveling a certain distance dependent on how long the player holds the B button. It is a shame that the potential of this degree is play control is wasted on such garbage of a video game. [...]

Alpha Mission

Alpha Mission already suffers a blow in being ported to a television setting, since vertically scrolling shooters are much more apt to their original arcade screens, oriented to provide an optimal perspective and taller screen. With so much working against it, and forcing the player to deal with a ship that begins so slowly and existing under the constant threat of downgrades (which, by the way, actually serves to discourage quickly going after power-ups, which seems outrageously philosophically counter-intuitive of shooter design), this video game is just not good. Even worse, it is not fun. [...]

Banana Prince

The game is a simple platformer that is just too fun to put down. The game has a lot of different features from such games as Super Mario and even Zelda 2. Combine those two schemes and you have an awesome title if done right that is. Be sure to check it out! FUN FUN FUN! The game itself is great. You’ll definitely have to come back for another run. The game is a great experience from beginning to end. Any platformer fan has to try this one out. The animation and beauty of this game makes you want to come back for more! [...]

Archon: The Light and the Dark

One other quirk applies. Each side has a magician; for the Light side, a wizard, and for the Dark, a sorcerer. Not only are they powerful in combat, with a very strong projectile attack, but they can also cast a spell on the player’s turn instead of moving a piece. These spells range from Teleport, which moves a piece (of either allegiance) to a different space on the board; to Revive, which brings a previously defeated piece back onto the playing field; to Heal, which recovers a piece’s health, since drops in health do stay in play, unless the piece is allowed a few turns to heal naturally; Summon Elemental, which basically attacks an opposing piece with a one-use powerful being in hopes of earning the kill; and a couple others, all of which are good for one use. [...]

Seicross

During game play the player rides a hovering motor bike racing through each level, shooting enemies, collecting energy and saving your blue friends. All of the levels are similar as in they scroll right, but there are the “FAST” levels and the “SLOW” levels and you’ll notice the differences. The fast levels have enemies on motor bikes chasing you around while the slower levels do not, but they have a lot more obstacles. [...]

Wayne’s World

In typical THQ fashion, the level design is less than extraordinary. On the first level, for example, Garth literally just has to walk to the right while firing his gun in order to reach the finish, despite the fact that there is an upper level of bounceable drums to travel across if he wished to. Other stages feature precision-jumping parts, annoying fly-over type enemies who bomb the character, and occasional items dropped to replenish the health bar. This is a bare-bones, minimalist, very basic platformer effort, and tellingly behind the times for a 1993 release. There are also amusing screens between the levels where Wayne and Garth engage in witty banter. [...]

Mega Man

The graphics are very stable. They are nothing amazing but it does make you feel like if you are in the future. The game looks and feels great overall. There aren’t that many weird things off from the game but it wouldn’t make any sense since it’s from the future. The bad guys are definitely known by many with such simple names as Cut Man and Guts Man…. Yeah, I remember those. The gameplay is quite tough. This is one of the more difficult Mega Man games out there mainly because there is no Mega buster, no sliding, no E-tanks…I can go on and on. You’ll have to use your best Mega skills to get through this. It’ll be worth it though! [...]

Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones

This is a brutal video game, but brutal because the computer is relentlessly unwaveringly tough, the move set boils down to only a couple of effective options at most in any given situation despite the expanded repertoire, and there is no real saving grace to make up for the shifts upward in difficulty, as even the weapons seem fewer and far between. Some side-scrolling action NES video games such as Battletoads, Mega Man, and Ninja Gaiden are notably difficult, but for reasons of tight stage design, a mix of precision-jumping puzzles and enemy encounters, and bosses that gradually ratchet upward on the difficulty scale. [...]

Werewolf

The player controls the werewolf, who begins the game as a man but, after defeating the first mini-boss character very soon into the game, collects a token to become the werewolf; afterward, the state of man or werewolf is determined by health. In either state, the game takes a rebellious stance against traditional NES platformers by having the A button attack and the B button jump. As a man, the player jumps, punches, and can launch a projectile attack by holding the A button and releasing. As a werewolf, the character is a tougher, meatier, nastier beast, slashing with long claws, leaping through the air, and using the holding-A-button attack to level the entire screen, at the cost of some units on the heath bar. [...]

Bomberman II

Of all the tweaks to the original Bomberman NES game, major and minor, the most noteworthy is probably the visuals. From the in-your-face title screen to the overhaul of the main quest looks,Hudson shows off their artistry with crisp, colorful, cool pixel pieces from beginning to end. Every eight-stage Area has a different theme, which determines the color and appearance of the soft blocks, permanent blocks, border, and background color. There are still-frame cutscenes between each areas, showing Bomberman’s continued progression to true freedom. Many of the enemy designs from the original game return fairly faithfully but with an appropriate touch-up. While other elements shine as well, like the fantastic frame-by-frame explosion animation, there is definitely a bit of slowdown when a lot is going on at once on-screen. This is unfortunate, especially later in the game. [...]

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

The visuals may actually be the high point of the game. The backgrounds are colorful, the animations are smooth, there are few clipping/slowdown issues, certain background elements are animated, the characters look distinctive, and many sprites are handled at once. A couple highlights are the lighting effects under the streetlights in the first level, and the tomato-throwing effects during the opening and the credits. However, there are a couple flaws, such as the infamous switch that must be activated in one level, which reverses the gravity; while the gravity-reversing feat is always great fun on the NES when it is found, the switch very much just looks like a background element and can be easily missed. [...]

TMNT 3: The Manhattan Project

The gameplay is even better than the one before. When you pick a turtle, they will have their own unique skill. You have to use their skills accordingly in order to get through the levels with ease. Of course, I do stick with Raphael’s special move for boss fights. You might wanna do the same :p Furthermore, the difficulty makes it a challenge but not so much of it to make you throw the controller across the room. Beating the hordes of Foot Soldiers has never felt so enjoyable though. Play with a friend for a true radical experience, that’s for sure! [...]

Amagon

Considering the patterned movements of many of the enemy obstacles, this already creates the inherent issue of requiring the player to undergo trial-and-error gameplay techniques in order to conquer the game, which provides a very repetitive, unenjoyable time. Even when Amagon is able to transform into the much (much, much) more powerful Megagon, it is still for a limited time, and ultimately a cartridge cannot rely solely on a single appeal in order to make a great game. [...]

Alfred Chicken

The visuals are not awful, but they lack a certain polish. In a way that is difficult to describe yet obvious the moment you see it, the art used is very “flat,” lacking outlines or layers, giving the human player a “washed-out” sensation for everything. All this, despite the fact that the game prides itself on not having a big single color for its backgrounds, instead plastering little stars and crap across the canvas of the levels. Another instance: The first stage’s color sample is in a yellow and brown theme, even though Alfred himself is yellow and brown, and the whole event just feels stale and yucky. [...]

The Adventures of Lolo

Way back in 1988, Hal Laboratories, who would still be churning out quality titles in later decades, released a quirky little cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System called The Adventures of Lolo. The colorful opening scene depicts fun, cartoony characters as Princess Lala gets captured in dramatic fashion and is whisked away through the sky from Lolo.So, as Lolo, the player must certainly control a valiant hero across epic landscapes and use a mighty sword to brutally dispatch of repulsive enemies and enormous bosses, right? Not quite – this title, with its round blue main titular playable character sporting big eyes and a cute little tail, throws a monkey wrench into the traditional adventure game. [...]

Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf

The Masters got me thinking about this game, although ironically, Lee never won that tournament, his only Major fail. But, I put a lot of time into it back in the day, and like real golf, you find you never really master it. LTFG is a 4-player game, with only 4 characters playable (conveinent). There’s Pretty Amy, the accurate-conscious lady in the pink skirt; Miracle Chosuke and Super Mex (Lee’s happily-embraced racist nickname), who have a good mix of accuracy and power; and my favorite, Big Jumbo, who has the pop in the club, but has a 3-click meter that runs faster, making it more difficult to hit the perfect shot. [...]

World Games

One odd side item worth mentioning is a humorous glitch in the Sumo Wrestling game: Although normal gameplay would not reveal it, the wrestling ring level wraps. In other words, what goes off one side of the screen will appear on the other. While it is not possible to walk outside the bounds of the ring without losing the match, there is a move that throws the opposing player backwards. If done at the very edge of the ring, the flung opponent will reach the edge of the screen; or, at least, his head will. This means that his body will be laying still on one side, while his head suddenly jumps over to the other, creating the appearance of a decapitation! Other weird visuals can be achieved with other games, such as the weightlifter who holds the barbells too long and falls through the floor after turning blue. [...]

Adventure Island

The power-ups are interesting, and provide the key motivator. Taking the form of eggs, when they are bumped into, they reveal themselves. The most common is the axe, always gathered first to provide a means of attack. But if Harry runs into other eggs once he has the throwing axes, he can gather further power-ups at the same time, such as riding a skateboard that not only moves forward quicker but also means he can now take an additional hit without dying; or the fairy mentioned before, which provides added protection and a temporary period of differing music. The idea is to make players want to see how many power-ups they can continue getting in a row, until they build into this unstoppable SuperHarry and crash through to the end of the level. [...]

Kid Icarus

With the release of Kid Icarus it was only fair to pick the classic counterpart as the pick for this week. The game itself is not for beginners or crybabies. It’s one of the toughest NES games around and does rivals the difficulty of Ghost n Ghouls for the same console. The game does require lots of patience but does get a lot more bearable later on especially when you get the better weapons and level up. Yes, you do get more health bars and believe me, you’ll need them. So why not step back into the past and take a look at Kid Icarus for the NES. [...]

The Adventures of Bayou Billy

And now we come to the reason why this game earned notoriety and an appearance on Captain N: It was overwhelmingly difficult! Rumor has it that the Japanese release was too easy, so for the international version they gave the enemies triple the life energy and lowered the ammo on shooting levels. Despite having practice modes for each of the three types of Bayou Billy levels, the entire ordeal is still excruciating and nightmarish. Only hardcore gamers should bother seeking this one out for its ardent, horrifying difficultly level. All others can safely stay away, leaving this to score a mild two stars out of five. [...]

Wolverine

The problem with the NES iteration of Wolverine is that the concept itself, of taking a popular license character and producing a below-average game with him or her as the starring vehicle, was not original at all. However, the parts of this game that are “innovative” are dreadful aspects, like having Wolverine’s claws damage him as they are used. This video game actually would have been much better had it been a little simpler: Have Wolverine’s claws out at all times without being self-damaging, fix the hit-detection oddities, and voila, a decent platformer. Instead, we have a very “meh” game that could be worth some replay value as a very challenging action title, but still only merits one and a half stars out of five. [...]

Gyruss

The majority of the obstacles to victory consist of groupings of enemies that fly in, dance around in some form of pattern, then make their way to the middle of the screen. Much like Galaga, a handful of groupings will all form together, and should be dealt with before they begin coming back and dive-bombing toward the player. In fact, similar to other shooters such as even Sky Shark, shooting down all the crafts in a particular squadron before they reach the middle garners bonus points. [...]

Weird Games: Zombie Nation

Released in 1990 for the NES by KAZe, Zombie Nation follows the story of an alien named, Darc Seed, (See what they did there?) that fell to earth on a meteor. Unfortunately, the meteor fell right smack in the middle of the Nevada desert, (See what they did there?).Then the alien used magnetic rays to turn everyone in the United States to zombies. [...]

Crystalis

This week I have one of my favorite picks period. Crystalis is the equivalent of an upgraded Zelda title. The game itself is jam packed with action around every corner. The story line is also very interesting since it takes place in the not so far future. The year is 1997, now back in the NES era this would have made more sense since we were in the early 90s but nowadays it doesn’t make much sense since the year has passed and well, just saying they should have made it the year at least 3000. Lets move on, the game is only one of few Zelda-clones which there weren’t many to begin with(The only other one being Faria as far as I know). SNK learned well on how to apply the Zelda-like mechanics. [...]

Dragon Warrior

You take role of a warrior (Elwood?) in order to save the princess and slay the dragon. Dragon Warrior(Quest in Japan and lately here) is the one that started it all in terms of quest style games. If you get a chance to check out the library of games for the Famicom you’ll realize that there are a vast amount of Dragon Warrior(Quest) clones out there. Most of the good ones were translated by true RPG fans while some others might or not still be in the works. Either way, you’ll have your best bet playing this classic of classics as you take a quest in the most initiative way through a realm full of freaks! [...]

Elevator Action

After completing a level, the next stage is generated, with exactly the same building, but a randomization of red-door locations. Also, the A.I. gradually become smarter and more sneaky in their tactics (for instance, they may vary between crouching and not crouching when they fire at you), against the sole defense of the player: A semi-automatic pistol that can fire three shots at a time, and kills instantly, much like the one-shot deaths the player may endure. [...]

Mike Tyson’s Punch Out

The game starts with a tune-up fight: A guy named Glass Joe, who is really just a punching bag, or practice to get used to the controls. The graphics look cool, decent sound effects, and Mario is your referee. Between plumbing and rescuing ladies, you wouldn’t think he’d have time for a night job, but good for him living the American Dream. Glass Joe goes down, and there a huge list of un-politically-correct boxers in my sight. [...]

Cool World

The level design is also very questionable. Some require puzzles to be solved, like on Main Street when the player needs to enter the Slash Club, but has to figure out that he has to blow the lid off a green trash can with a bomb, then push it to the left in front of the bouncers, in order for the smell to drive them away from the entrance. Another level is an unforgiving skateboarding level, with lots of one-hit kill opportunities, slightly reminiscent of that aggravating Great Wall of China stage from Bart Vs. The World. [...]

Baseball Stars

This time around, Baseball Stars for the NES takes top honors as it’s a game well over due for a mention right here at Retro Gaming Life. The game itself combines the RPG elements with sports elements in a very satisfying way. You can start up with a horrible team and win games to earn money to buy steroids for your players so they will get stronger and run faster. Is this what the American past time is all about? You bet! You are also able to name your team whatever you want, as I would name mine the Chomps. We finished last in our first season of play but ended up buying enough steroids to strengthen for next season. [...]

Die Hard

There are 40 baddies to kill throughout the building levels, by fists or weapon. You’ll need your fists, because I find myself running out of ammo very quickly. But, it’s just as fun pummeling these ass-wipes. After dispatching the Germans (YIPPEE KAI YAY, MY FRIENDS!!), use the elevator to the next level, finding more weapons (NOW I HAVE A MACHINE-GUN, HO HO HO!!) and more bad guys. Some cool features include listening in on their radios and the “foot meter”. This is because like the movie, you’re actually running around in bare feet, OVER GLASS!!! You’ll replenish health by drinking soda and finding first-aid kits. [...]

Disney’s Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

There is a loose storyline involved the literally named villain Fat Cat and his nefarious efforts at small-world domination, and eventual kidnapping of the chipmunks’ friend. As the player defeats levels, he or she can actually choose a course through different stages, with multiple paths available, similar to Bionic Commando. In addition to the Mega Man games, it seems that allowing the player to choose their own path was a Capcom design staple. [...]

Batman

Another item he can find is health to boost his life meter, which at full strength allows him to take several hits before dying, although even Batman’s death is impressive, as he bursts into a flash of fire. Suffering damage does not incur knockback, and grants a brief moment of invulnerability. Mastering Batman’s skills in movement, melee combat, long-range weaponry, and inventory management will be key to success, as this Batman game boasts a challenging difficulty curve that will prove to be a worthy conquest for even a seasoned retro gamer. [...]

Toxic Crusaders

There are even the usual beat-’em-up elements like a skateboard level (quite essential to any 80’s or 90’s gaming experience) and even an underwater stage. The enemies are pattern-based, as repeated plays will make passing the waves of baddies much easier as the player learns their vulnerabilities, most of which amounts to “do not attack in a straightforward manner; rather, move up or down directly into an attack, or even let them move vertically to you as you are swinging.” Each of the six levels has a boss fight, and there are items hidden in destructible objects that can increase health or mop meter. [...]

Rygar

This game looks grand, from the multi-colored environments that take Rygar through areas of sandy deserts, snowcapped mountain peaks, and even lush woods, to the varied monstrous enemies he encounters, to the detailed backgrounds that put a finishing touch on enhancing the setting. Gameplay itself proceeds at a smooth clip, despite some definite flickering issues, even with just a couple or a few enemies on the screen. Rygar looks like the rugged hero he should, and one can hardly find complaint with the original canon at work here. [...]

The Uncanny X-Men

The “graphics” found in X-Men are genuinely bad. The character sprites are tiny, with only the palette colors enabling you to discern who is who, and not making any effort to showcase the famous characters with any marquee on-screen presence whatsoever. The different levels are a poorly designed, crappy-looking tile-based mess of background haziness, foreground busyness, and bizarre enemies coming from every angle. The navigation screens, like the level selection or character selection, are dull and minimalist, completely uninspired and not making even the least effort to appear interesting or like the developer cared at all about the final product. [...]

Wrecking Crew

Another title for the books! Wrecking Crew is a simple game that keeps repeating and repeating over and over. The game consists of Merio which is trying to destroy buildings and such. There is this dude called Werio that won’t let him do it, in fact he is trying to hammer his ass to prevent him from wrecking everything(must be an environmentalist). Your main objective as Merio is to well wreck everything but along the way you have to deal with Werio and some fish with legs that try to kick your ass. The worst part of this game is that you can’t jump! I guess the hammer must be too heavy for Merio to jump with. [...]

Jaws

Usually, movie-themed video games are developed too quickly, as they seek to capitalized on a film’s popularity as rapidly as possible. While this may have been the case with Jaws, it does not show; the game is actually decent on its own merits, with some interesting themes. For example, there are a few modes of play: The overworld view, where the boat seeks upgrades while trying to avoid Jaws; the diving scenes, where the diver attacks creatures while collecting items; and bonus scenes, where bombing jellyfish (yes, bombing jellyfish) earns extra points toward upgrades; and a special section, whenever Jaws’ energy is depleted in the diving scenes. There is even a “hidden” mini-sub upgrade for the diver, making him faster and providing more firepower [...]

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

This was the second and final Star Wars game released on the NES, and for some reason, it feels like it takes a step backward. Maybe it is the slightly more linear gameplay, the seemingly increased challenge, or an intangible “feel” that separates it from the original, but this game is not as fun as the previous. As a two-dimensional platformer, it is decent at best, and eclipsed by many earlier titles from other developers. Some of the portions of the gameplay that are not taking place in a side-scrolling environment are nice, but do not detract from the title’s primary fault: Its immense difficulty. [...]