Super Bomberman 4

Super Bomberman 4

Super Bomberman 4

There are 5 Super Bomberman games on the SNES/SFC. Not many people know this as in the Western world only the first 3 were released. The problem is that Super Bomberman 4 was released in 1996 which was around the time the SNES had started to drop in popularity. The world was anticipating the next generation of systems, & the 16 bit machines were being abandoned. Not in Japan however, where SNES games were made well into the year 2000. On a side note, recently a Bomberman article featured in Retrogamer magazine where they claim that number 5 was the only one never released outside Japan, but I can’t find any evidence to suggest 4 was so we’ll put that down to being a mistake.

So let’s have a look at the game. A very nice intro starts us off with Shiro & Kuro (another little known fact is that the 2 Bombers actually have names) asleep on a rocket ship which is attacked by a group of 5 evil bombers.

Super Bomberman 4

The guys are then awoken from their sleep & they are sent into a world full of clocks for some reason with a little girl dressed in cowboy clothes. Hey, it’s Japanese, I don’t speak it, so that’s the best I can give you. The manual has a little comic at the start which explains the story, but as it too is in Japanese I can’t refer to that for plot points I’m afraid. Does the plot of a Bomberman game REALLY matter though? We all know what we’re here for. BLOWING THINGS UP!!!

As you can see by the title screen at the top of the page you have your typical 3 options of “Normal Game”, “Battle Game” & “Password” for the normal game. If you’ve ever played a Bomberman game you’ll be pretty familiar with these options. If not I’ll explain as we go along. How does Bomberman 4 differ from the others? Well I’m glad you asked…

Here’s the first stage:

Super Bomberman 4

Not a lot in it, is there? Looks like Bomberman 1, Bomberman 2 & Bomberman 3. Bomberman 5 had a massive graphics overhaul which will be covered in another review later on. But here we are, typical Bomberman play. For the uninitiated, You play as Shiro (the white bomber) or Kuro (the black bomber) & using an infinite supply of bombs (though initially you can only use 1 at a time) you must blow up boxes blocking your path to the enemies, collect any powerups that may appear from those blocks, then blow up the enemies, then an exit will appear. You go to that exit & it’s level over. It really is the simplest of concepts.

Super Bomberman 4

Each Bomberman game has little things which differentiate it from the one previous. Bomberman 3 was quite innovative in that it had the Louies (Rooies), who were kangaroo type characters that you could ride. When blown up, some of the blocks in the level would reveal an egg you could collect. It would hatch into a Louie & you could ride it. Each Louie has its own special ability. Yes, it’s Bomberman’s version of Yoshi, but we won’t dwell on that as the Louies aren’t in this game. They do come back in Bomberman 5 however.

Super Bomberman 4

Bomberman 4 expands on this feature by allowing you to defeat enemies & use their special abilities. Some enemies when blown up will become green spotted, or metallic eggs. You collect the eggs, they hatch back into that enemy you blew up & they become your pets, allowing you to ride them & use their special abilities.

Unlike Bomberman 3 you can stockpile these guys allowing you to ride one & carry 2 eggs behind you in reserve. The problem with this is when you lay a bomb you must get those eggs out the way or they WILL be destroyed, even if you’re clear of the bomb yourself. If you are in a 2 player game your ally can come & pinch one of the eggs. This can be a problem in Battle Mode which we’ll cover later.

Super Bomberman 4

Another new idea introduced in this game is the idea of imprisoned Bombers who you can free. In some levels you will see a rattling cage such as the one pictured below. It’s along the left. side of the image.

Blow up the cage & you get yourself an ally for the remainder of the level. Here he is in the top left corner of the screen.

Why is he up there for seemingly no reason? Well the problem is these Bombers aren’t too bright, just seeming to lay bombs at random. This can cause problems as they don’t seem to care where you are when they place them. You don’t HAVE to free them to pass the level, so if you want to leave them to rot in their tiny cages go right ahead. They deserve it!!

Super Bomberman 4

I haven’t touched on the powerups yet. Upon destroying blocks you may find one of the following:

Skates for speed
Wooden sandals to slow you down
Additional bombs
Additional blast power
Viruses that cause random negative affects
Remote control bombs
Protection vest
The ability to kick bombs out of your way
The ability to punch bombs
The ability to be hit once & still remain in the game
Extra lives
Spikey bombs that go through blocks
Clock that freezes enemies
The ability to go through walls
The ability to pick up other Bombermen & throw them
The ability to push other Bombermen
2 others I can’t understand from the manual. One has a picture of a question mark & another as a normal human face. I never saw this item while playing the game, so I don’t know what it is.

Super Bomberman 4

The single player mode showcases some impressive bosses. The guys at Hudson really have a good imagination when it comes to designing some of these.

Not much to say here. Hit them 8 times with a bomb blast & they’re history.

Music is fun as always with variations on Bomberman themes featured in the earlier games. In Bomberman 3 as soon as you turned the console on you would hear a voice saying “By Hudsonsoft”. This voice is back but it’s slightly slower & less high pitched. The little Bombers will speak occasionally, but as it’s in Japanese I don’t really know what they’re saying.

Super Bomberman 4

Let’s move on to Battle Mode. Bomberman 4 gives us a little more yet keeps the improvements introduced in Bomberman 3. You can either choose a generic Bomber or one of the 5 enemies.

Now these guys aren’t just new sprites that look different. Each of the Bombers has their own special ability which can be used to cause problems for the opposition. For example, one of them can swing a ball & chain over their heads knocking items off anyone they hit & scattering them across the screen for other players to pick up. Another one can shoot fire destroying anyone it hits, but he loses all his powerup abilities for a short time afterwards. Now you & all of your friends will want to play Battle mode over & over trying all 6 of them… presumably that was the idea anyway…

Super Bomberman 4

When a Bomber gets blown up you can switch on an option that will allow them to come back & exact revenge on the players still in the play field. They pilot little ships that hover on the outside of the play field & can lob bombs into it. If a player is hit on the head with one of these bombs they get stunned & lose some of their items which will scatter around the screen, so if you blow someone up watch out!!! They may come back & hunt you down.

Super Bomberman 4

Summary.

This is without a doubt my favourite Bomberman game & it’s a shame it was never released outside Japan. What makes it my favourite? I personally think it’s the most innovative of the 5 games. Lots of new ideas which expand on an old favourite. It’s got to be 5/5. Sheer Hudsonsoft brilliance.

Eternal Champions

Eternal Champions

Eternal Champions

Killzone was supposed to “kill” Halo. Despite Sony playing avoidance with regards to sparkly magazine hype, covers began to explicitly plant Killzone as Sony’s hyper contender against an unexpected Xbox juggernaut starring armor-clad Master Chief. Killzone, as many would realize upon its PlayStation 2 release with a system-taxing engine, was not even set to punch Halo, let alone kill it.

Oddly, we didn’t learn from history. As Street Fighter II perched up arcades and sanctioned head-to-head competition with Midway’s ferocious Mortal Kombat, it was Sega who would potentially “kill” Street Fighter II.

Eternal Champions was their weapon.

Eternal Champions

Video game magazines, never one to shift shelf space to blitz sensationalist, exclamation point-filled text (GamePro’s embarrassing run of multi-issue Bubsy exclusives never matched), primed Genesis owners who were long deprived of Capcom’s Street Fighter IIEternal Champions would tilt the console war, or rather, we were told it would. EGM’s December, 1993 issue came complete with dual covers, declaring the title, “Truly amazing!” before a four person review team scored it 8,7, 5, and 5 in the next monthly installment. EGM would reset the cycle a few months later, declaring dinosaur rumbler Primal Rage better than Mortal Kombat 2.

Eternal Champions

In many ways, Sega and Sony both charted analogous pathways: Each first party were stout believers they had something. Sony continues to stress Killzone as a tentpole PlayStation franchise, and its improvements with each subsequent entry show growth amidst dominating first-person competition.

Sega drifted Eternal Champions from its Genesis origins onto a glossy Sega CD update, complete with grisly fatalities sprawled onto the disc with eerily smooth animation. Gangster era enforcer Larcen would be shrunk to clumsily occupy space on Sega’s handheld, the Game Gear, via Chicago Syndicate. A final gasp, an unplayable multi-verse in X-Perts, signaled a franchise collapsing in on itself. Sega’s dreams of elaborate spin-offs and knock-out financial competition with Capcom and Midway (and indirectly Nintendo) would die there.

Eternal Champions

Eternal Champions would plunder its time faring gimmick from 1992′s Time Killers, a sickly exploitative brawler that pitted past & future in blood splattering conflict, enough to make Mortal Kombat whimper. Sega’s headstrong fighter would eschew colorful, explicit ferociousness, partly due to subdued hardware capabilities. Locked to 64 colors (the Sega CD port finding itself a rare 256-color mode user), Eternal Champions ran with enlarged sprites to make Super Nintendo Street Fighter characters appear trifling in comparison, yet meek with dried up purples and browns. With system exclusivity allowing for peak fidelity, Champions would still fall prey to lackluster splash in an era where saturation was an attention hook.

Eternal Champions

Sega tried, creating a strategic fighting landscape with limitations on spammy projectiles, and in turn, forced spacing. Sega instead locked themselves out, explicit in their trendiness as they grabbed for something other than Street Fighter’s blast of uppercuts and fireballs. Unfortunately, without familiarity, Champions was instantaneously off-putting and uncomfortable (literally when conjoined with Sega’s Activator peripheral), while publicized violence – especially on Sega CD – was something executed on random timing or luck.

Eternal Champions

For its inarguable clumsiness, Champions is locked to Sega hardware, exhibiting design ideals which aimed older in order to pick away at an aging Nintendo audience, game playing landscapes maturing as they entered ’90s. Nintendo would learn their lesson. Fixating on a grungy campaign of illicit fonts, technological gains, and wonky TV ads, Nintendo’s spirited attitude would splice itself into Sega’s methodology.Champions, while a lesser influence in that drastic marketing modification than censored Mortal Kombatports, remains a historical relic. Released as the two console companies became embroiled in heated competitiveness, Nintendo was still playing nice as Sega reached for a teenage jugular.

Amazingly, it’s still happening. Microsoft’s glowing pink cavalcade of Covenant weaponry in Halo trots out playfulness against Sony’s bleakly visual saga of inter-species warfare in Killzone. Indirectly, the war begun by Eternal Champions still plays out, only with different combatants.

Clu Clu Land

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Clu Clu Land, October 1985, Nintendo

Clu Clu Land

Now here is an strange one. This is one you’ll either love to death and spend quality time daydreaming about how to conquer the next level or you’re going to throw this sumbitch right off a balcony and never think twice about it. Either way, let’s dig into this oddball Black Boxer, Clu Clu Land!
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Most of the early games have this sort of black title screen.
Let’s start with the box art. If you were a strapping young lad wishing to rent a new game, what the holy shitstain would you even think this one is about if you hadn’t seen it in the arcades prior? It looks like two Rupees in between a fried egg on the left and a first year graphic designer’s interpretation of Mr.Krabs holding a fried egg balanced Rupee while mentally talking to Professor Xavier via 1960’s psychic wave drawings on the right. In other words, no fucking clue what is going on on the box.
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Unlike the US version, the Famicom box art perfectly illustrates everything you need to know before popping it in.
Onto the meaty part of the burger. You’re a fish named Bubbles trying to collect coins while avoiding the Unira, a nasty type of sea urchin. Without the game manual, I wouldn’t have clue one that this was even a fish. She’s fairly badass in her own way because she has these extendable arms with claws that grab onto poles and turn however you grabbed them via momentum. Black holes can suck you in and bounce walls will send you eyeballs first to your doom but your main enemy in this game? The fucking timer. That’s right, you thought 8-1 of Mario forced you to haul ass through a level? This game is brutal with it’s timer and even if you die, the fucker doesn’t reset! Up the ass with Mobil gas I say! It’s biggest comparison would be Pac-Man but in reverse. Imagine Pac-Man’s mazes but instead of grabbing the power pellets, you need to uncover them while incapacitating the Unira. That’s the whole of it. Recover all the coins of a level (which usually creates a picture of some sort) and you move onto the next stage.
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We all live in a yellow submarine…
Graphics are nice and bright as they are in most of the launch games. There is never so much going on that you lose track of Bubbles and the Unira don’t blend in to the background in any way that would lead to cheap fishy-death. The sound is my favorite part about the game as it presents some catchy bittunes that  really get you bobbing in your seat like a kid again.
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One red, one green? Hmm, familiar 2 player color scheme there!
Bad news for those hoping for two straight 10 scores, these controls are the drizzling shits. I spent almost 90 minutes playing through and still had trouble making a simple left turn at times. The timer is a bitch and in some levels Bubbles moves normally, and some she smokes a fat bag of crank right before the level starts, so the pacing seems screwy. It looks simple enough becomes an untamed whoredoggie to say the least. The “sound wave” she shoots always hits it’s mark but ramming the Unira into the wall to kill them can take way too much valuable time. In other difficulty news, this becomes impossible around level 12, as you have to go over the coins twice to reveal them. I like impossible so stuck with it and was rewarded by having levels where if you uncovered the coin, you couldn’t touch it again or it flipped over and didn’t count. SADISTS!
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Is this Bubbles or Meatwad from ATHF?
THE FINAL VERDICT

6/10 This really wasn’t a bad game at all. The controls have a high learning curve and can run you ragged, but it wasn’t Kid Kool or anything (shudder). At times it was very addicting and you get a real sense of accomplishment when you uncover the picture of the level.

Clu_Clu_Land
Bubbles seems like she should’ve been more popular than she was. Cute as hell and just what NES fans seemed to love in their characters.

Those wondering what may have happened to Bubbles, she has popped up over the years in various places. The most well-known would be as a trophy in SSBM, but fuck, everyone from the Black Box era is represented there so no big surprise. Her most prominent role since Clu Clu Land was as a hidden character in the GBA game Donkey Kong : King Of Swing. Along with Ms. Pac-Man, she would be also be one of the first female starring roles in early gaming which makes me wonder why more people don’t know about this game? Oh yeah, goddamned box art.

Clu_Clu_Land
I’ll just say it, BRING BACK BUBBLES!!!

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete

lunar silver star storyLunar: Silver Star Story Complete

The game Lunar didn’t rang a bell to many as only real savvy Sega fans would know of its existence. The game was original released for the Sega CD and many thought it was a lost gem. Working Designs decided to port it to the original Playstation and this is the result. An amazing cinematic RPG of mass proportions! Lets take a look at it….
lunar silver star story
The music really reflects the beauty and atmosphere of this game. If there is anything this game stands out on is the music. You might see it today as a dated game but the music will always shine on this one. We all still listen to Beethoven right? Enough said!

lunar silver star storyThe graphics could have been better but they were good enough. You’ll feel like if you are playing a SNES RPG at times due to the graphics module the developers decided to use and lets face it, with games such as Final Fantasy 7, the standard of how RPGs played and are supposed to look like was raised. It won’t affect much of the gameplay anyways as it’s what the game’s strong point is.
lunar silver star storyWith every RPG comes every type of gameplay. You will find yourself battling through tough bosses and dungeons in this one. This game is not as easy as you might think so you better be ready to use all your skills for it. The challenge factor is what makes you keep coming for more so in a way it’s not too tough that you would want to rip your head off but it’s also not too easy to make it a cakewalk. Just try it for yourself.

lunar silver star story

RPGs are very tough when it comes to replay value as they tend to take a long time to finish so this will depend on how a hardcore a RPG gamer you are. You can’t say not to a second run at this beauty. If you overpass the difficulty, then you’ll be fine and enjoy multiple hours of this masterpiece.

The game delivers an experience like no other. You will fall in love with the characters and storyline. This game will suck you in from start to finish! Be sure to pick it up even though it could be pricey!

U.N. Squadron

U.N. Squadron

Format: Super NES Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up Released: 1991 Developer:Capcom

Back in the day, I used to be a massive fan of shoot ‘em ups (or ‘shmups’ as people are trendily abbreviating them nowadays). I don’t play them so much anymore, but there’s still something satisfying about a good shooter – the frantic button hammering, the screen-filling bosses, the feeling of constantly being no more than a gnat’s hair away from explodey death… yeah, there really is nothing like a good old shoot ‘em up.

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Having said that, I think you do need a special kind of gaming autism to really enjoy them: the hallmark of the genre is a level of difficulty that cultivates armchair-gnawing, joypad-snapping frustration in most gamers, but shmup players have developed the Zen-like patience/sheer bloody-mindedness to not only persevere with but enjoy these most unforgiving of games. In this respect, U.N. Squadron was a little more lenient than its peers, featuring – horror of horrors – an energy bar. Energy bars are like kryptonite to hardcore shoot ‘em up players, who believe that they detract from the intensity of the shoot ‘em up experience. For sane people though, they offer the opportunity to get past the end of the first level without retrying several hundred times.

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Despite the energy bar, U.N. Squadron was by no means easy, although it was a lot more forgiving than some of its contemporaries, such as Gradius III. It also had the added bonus of featuring various paths through the game, something that we take for granted now but which at the time was fairly rare. This meant that it was rare to get stuck on one level, and the sheer variety of planes and weapon upgrades was a compelling reason to keep playing (and replaying).

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Surprisingly, U.N. Squadron had a plot. I say ‘surprisingly’, because I’ve just found out that it’s based on an old manga called ‘Area 88′ – you can read all about it here. I’m always surprised when games like this have a plot – it seems so utterly unnecessary and ridiculous, like the ongoing plot of Tekken. I mean, in what possible situation would a single plane go up against an entire air force? I’m not sure where the U.N. come into it either – I presume that in this scenario the G8 have withdrawn funding, so the U.N. can only afford to send one plane at a time on peacekeeping missions.

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Looking back at this game, it’s clear just how much gaming has moved on in the last twenty years, and I even remember thinking at the time that shoot ‘em ups were ‘a bit old-fashioned’. The entire genre is based around repetitiveness, and any attempt at complexity rarely extends beyond choosing which special weapons to equip. Having said that, it’s hard to beat shmups for a pure adrenaline rush, and now that I have less and less time to play games, a quick five-minute blast on a traditional side scroller like this has more and more appeal. U.N. Squadron was certainly one of the better genre efforts, and it’s surely overdue for a revival.

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Shoot ‘em ups are a sort of prehistoric gaming genre that has somehow survived into the 21st century – like the Coelacanth, they keep being declared extinct, and then a thriving colony of them pops up somewhere unexpected. After all, a healthy clutch of shooters was recently spotted on PS2, and reports of new shmups being released on Dreamcast persisted long after the console’s ‘demise’. Here’s hoping that  U.N. Squadron will throw off its extinct status and resurface on Xbox Live Arcade sometime soon.

Air Fortress

Air Fortress

Air Fortress is a strange name for a video game, but this did not stop HAL Laboratories from developing and producing this odd title, released in North America in 1989. Did the makers of such cult classics as Rollerball and Adventures of Lolo have another lovable hit on their hands?

Air Fortress - NES

Gameplay

Air Fortress has unusual gameplay, formed of a hybrid between shoot-’em-up action and platforming segments. There are eight eponymous Air Fortresses, and they are evil. In fact, they have been destroying entire civilizations, and it is up to our hero character, at the player’s control, to destroy them.

Each stage begins with your standard fare of side-scrolling science-fiction shooter action. While blazing laser cannons with either the A or B button, dodging obstacles, and firing at enemy craft, icons “B” and “E” will also be collected, which form the Bombs and Energy inventory for the next half of the level.

Air Fortress - NES

In those latter halves, the player goes into a multi-directional scrolling platform environment that takes place in the Air Fortress itself. Firing a laser pistol with the A button, or those oh-so-powerful and limited Bombs with the B button, the player must venture further into the depths of the Fortress. There are many sorts of enemies, ranging from free-roving dive bombers to stationary platform guns, for the player to conquer, along with precision-movement puzzles and occasional timing challenges.

Eventually, the core is reached. Much like in Bionic Commando, but unlike Captain Skyhawk, the core is the target to be destroyed, done quickly using those special Bombs, but does not even bother firing back at the player. Once the core is destroyed, the level goes dark, and the player must get back to their spaceship for another round of Fortress-blasting patrol.

Air Fortress - NES

Really, that is about it. A few mechanical flourishes are interesting: The player can have several hundred Energy within the Fortresses, but it slowly depletes no matter whether moving, firing, or even standing still. Furthermore, even those platforming portions take place in zero gravity, allowing the player to jump as high as desired (with the Up button held), along with the neat visual of the player-character jolting backwards with each shot fired in midair.

Overall, however, Air Fortress is a bit dull and tedious. Even though it does show some flair in its design, it just does not feel rewarding enough to make the spent time worthwhile. The shmup segments feel watered down, with the enemies never really mounting an overwhelming attack, while deaths inside the Fortress take forever to accomplish, thanks to the huge amounts of hit-points Energy that can be racked up.

Is this a functional, fully-formed video game? Sure, but one would have to have a special little fetish for hybrid-genre games in order to find Air Fortress landing amongst their favorite NES cartridges. At least there is a password function, accessible at the title screen, for the sake of taking this game in small, healthy chunks.

Graphics

Air Fortress - NES

The pixel placement in this game approaches a hefty level of niftiness at moments, which cool-lookin’ sprites almost like rotating polygons in some segments, and backgrounds expertly designed to match a sci-fi motif. The player-character itself is oddly bland, and some of the color choices do leave a muddled tone strewn across the screen. Not bad, otherwise, ending up a little more appealing than not so.

Sound

Air Fortress - NES

The music is similar to the graphics, in terms of its quality: Composed professionally, and matches the tone of the game, without ever approaching interstellar levels of unforgettability. Above-average, never distracting, no complaints needed.

Originality

Air Fortress - NES

Well, Air Fortress sure is different, but difference alone can hardly guarantee a great gaming session. While HAL has managed to craft an 8-bit shooter/platformer hybrid with loving care, it lacks punch and gravity (ironically?), ending up as just another piece of flotsam floating among the morass of its genre competitors.

Overall rating: 2.5/5 stars.

King of the Monsters

King_of_the_Monsters

King of the Monsters (1991)
By: SNK Genre: Fighting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: SNK Neo Geo MVS First Day Score: 47,640
Also Available For: Neo Geo AES, MegaDrive, SNES
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

King of the Monsters

The Neo Geo has gained a great deal of fame and adulation over the years for a variety of reasons but much of this has come from fans of its many one-on-one fighting games. The flagship series must surely be King of Fighters, but fighters are not the only thing it’s possible to be king of! All these human-based games are all very well but even the most creative minds can only do so much with our soft, fleshy, watery bodies. What we need is for someone to open their mind to the possibilities that other beings could bring to the genre. No, I’m not talking about robots, I think we’ve had just about enough of those metallic buffoons clanging into each other (eeek!). Something with the unpredictability of nature is still required I think, but a good helping of muscles, fangs, and a bit of primeval ferocity wouldn’t hurt either. Sounds like a job for the Japanese…
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The result is clearly inspired by Japan’s preoccupation with giant monsters and hideous creatures of various descriptions, known as ‘kaiju’, and is set in six cities around said country. Each city is home to a combat arena which is… the city itself! Due to the probably-radiation-assisted size of the monsters, they face off in city streets surrounded by appropriate buildings and other landmarks. Well, I’ve presumed they’re appropriate but I can’t say I’ve spent too much time in the cities in question. The action is viewed from a 3D overhead perspective meaning the monsters can move in all directions around the arenas which are encircled by an electrical barrier. Almost everything within the sizeable perimeter can be and usually is destroyed though – more often than not each city starts out all lovely and pristine and ends up looking more like a debris-strewn warzone!
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The titanic battles take the form of wrestling matches which, to quote good old Mene Gene, are ‘scheduled for one fall’ and are contested by six monsters – Geon (a Godzilla-like dinosaur), Woo (a blue King Kong-like ape), Poison Ghost (a creature made of toxic waste like Hydorah), Rocky (who is… umm… a rocky creature), Beetle Mania (a large Megalon-like beetle), and Astro Guy (a courageous Ultraman-like superhero). Any of them can be selected and all are fought twice (including your own character) before the game is finished. Their repertoire of moves doesn’t vary much from one to another, although they do have special moves of course, and they’re also taken from the world of wrestling which means many suplexes, throws, gorilla presses, DDT’s, pile-drivers, and some close-quarters grappling and even biting! It’s possible to pin your opponent (in some humiliating ways, obviously – see blue ape oaf below) any time you knock them down but it’s probably best to beat the crap out of them sufficiently first. If they’re weak enough, your ‘cover’ may result in a three-count and victory.
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And that’s pretty much it! One-on-one fighting games have become rather convoluted in recent years in my opinion but King of the Monsters is the opposite. Is that a good thing? Well, it could certainly do with having a bit more to it – some additional fighters at least, and perhaps also the ability to use the surrounding buildings as weapons – but its simplicity also works in its favour in some ways. The graphics and music are quite pleasing for an early Neo Geo title too. The tunes have an air of disaster about them and the monsters all screech/roar appropriately enough. They are also just the right size have some nice animations, and the attention to detail on the cities is superb. In classic B-movie style, the players are attacked by various human vehicles like tanks and boats during play and these can be picked up and thrown. Control of your chosen monster seems pretty good for the most part. Each has two attack buttons and a run button, although it often seems a bit hit and miss as to whether a strike/move is effective or not, but each one needs to count as your character is not restored to full power for the next match which can mean a very rapid defeat.
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And therein lies both the appeal and problem with King of the Monsters. It’s simple, even for a fighting game, and is very much an arcade game in the traditional sense – it provides a lot of fun and laughs in five or ten minute bursts but little beyond that. That’s to be expected of an arcade game but the Neo Geo home versions haven’t been enhanced in any way and the MegaDrive and SNES conversions even lose two characters! It certainly is an appealing game though, initially at least, and that appeal is heightened when a second player is added who, splendidly, you can choose to either fight against or alongside you against two CPU monsters! You’ll also likely find much to appreciate here if you’re a fan of the old Japanese films from which the game takes its inspiration. If giant rubbery monsters don’t do it for you though, you’ll probably lose interest fairly quickly. It’s a fantastic premise with some great ideas and there are few fighting games like it, I just wish there was a bit more to it.

RKS Score: 7/10

Boxyboy

BoxyBoy

Boxyboy

This could be called the Amazon warehouse game. In Boxyboy you control a worker in a warehouse and the overall goal is to push the crates on to the squares with the yellow dots on them. The game was developed by Media Rings and published by NEC on the TurboGrafx-16.

BoxyBoy

Part of the Sokoban series the game starts of pretty easy, but like all puzzle games it gets harder and harder each level. Speaking of levels, Boxyboy features a level editor that allows players to create and then play their own custom levels.

Streets of Rage 2

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I actually played Streets of Rage 1, 2 and 3 back then – but 2 for some reason was always my favorite of the trilogy. ~Nick Herber

Streets of Rage 2

This could fall under a Retro Reflection or a PlayStation Network Review, but I really did not want to break this down into a series of score points.  One of the titles I got to play while using PlayStation Plus was Streets of Rage 2 on the PSN.

streets-of-rage-2

This was a classic beat ’em up game from Sega that I played over and over again on my Sega Genesis.  I actually played Streets of Rage 1, 2 and 3 back then – but 2 for some reason was always my favorite of the trilogy.  By today’s standards, it can be a bit slow and sometimes the fighting is a bit ‘cheap’ – but it is still a good throwback to the older days of gaming for those of us who recall Final Fight, Golden Axe, Double Dragon and Streets of Rage so fondly.
  streets-of-rage-2
The premise is pretty simple – you walk from one side of the screen to the other, causing it to scroll in your direction as you take on wave after wave of street thugs.  Each level culminates in some sort of a boss battle that is equal parts amusing and frustratingly cheap.  Along the way you will pick up a variety of items like food, money and weapons stored in random barrels, benches and more from the environment around you.
streets-of-rage-2
You can play the game with a friend, which I recall doing repeatedly when I was younger and it is still fun today.  There is an online versus mode as well that does not hold up nearly as well, for a variety of reasons.  One, the fighting mechanics are really shallow – Street Fighter IV this is not.  Additionally, it seemed like the connections were flaky at best a lot of times.  If I can run around environments like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 and suffer no lag, then it seems baffling to me that a game like this would consistently have trouble keeping up during a single isolated fight.
Beyond that, it seemed like every time I was about to win, my opponent would disconnect with no fear of tangible penalty that I could detect.  Anyway, not a big deal as the majority of my time spent playing was just trucking through the actual story mode on my own.  I beat it two or three times over the span of a few days, and it definitely provided me with a nice dose of nostalgia along the way.

Valkyrie Profile

Valkyrie Profile

Valkyrie Profile

“Smooth sprite animation, screen-filling spell effects, 2D backgrounds as good as the PlayStation can muster, and superb character art.”

Yup even the reviews sounded different back when……

Valkyrie Profile ヴァルキリープロファイル is a role-playing video game, released for original Playstation on December 22, 1999 in Japan. An enhanced port of the game was later released for the PlayStation Portable under the name Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth.

Valkyrie Profile

Loosely based on Norse mythology, players assume the role of a valkyrie who recruits and prepares the souls of fallen warriors, before sending them to Valhalla for a final apocalyptic battle between the Æsir and Vanir: Ragnarok.

Several improvements were made to the English release of Valkyrie Profile, including more cinematics and the ability to adjust all characters’ armor.  Some editing occurred during translation, but visible blood, drinking, and sexual comments remain.

Valkyrie Profile

Badrach’s smoking was cut out but the animation of him smoking after a successful battle remains, minus the cigarette.

Original Playstation discs range from $59 to a staggering $499 for a mint edition.

Game Review on IGN where it scored an immaculate 91%
Game Faq and Walkthrough

NES Baseball

 nintendo baseball

NES Baseball

The Nintendo sport series on NES was pretty bad, and Baseball is not much different.
nintendo baseball
The game really is not that bad in a technical sense. It’s baseball….and not much else. It’s got different teams and a 2 player mode but that’s about it.
nintendo baseball
The problem with the game are really three things. The first is the speed of the game, it really goes far too slow for it’s own good. The second are the controls which aren’t so hot when you’re trying to throw it to the right base. Lastly is the difficulty when playing against the computer. It’s far too good getting easy home runs while you struggle to get pass any base.
 nintendo baseball
It may be slightly better in some ways compared to some other sport games on NES, but it’s still garbage. Do not buy this game from anywhere.

Score: 3 out of 10

Super Mario Bros

Super_Mario_Bros
(Super Mario Bros, October 1985, Nintendo)

Super Mario Bros

Perfection. That is perhaps the only proper word created to describe Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi “Ten Ten” Tezuka, and Koji Kondo’s realized vision of a sequel to the original Mario Bros. When it comes to the “Black Box” titles, none come close to this magical tale that whisked many a young mind away far off into a land unlike any we had ever seen before. Super Mario Bros. Perfection.
Super_Mario_BrosAll hail!

 What some don’t know is that SMB (as I will refer to it henceforth) was actually created as kind of a “goodbye” to the original Famicom system to make way for the Famicom Disk System, which was a huge motherfucker of a contraption that fit in underneath the original Famicom. The Famicom (FAMIly COMputer), for the uninitiated, is the Japanese version of the NES with little differences such as controllers hard-wired into the console and different sized cartidges. Little did they know that this platform/shooter they were working on (yes, a freakin’ shooter!) would become the landmark of a generation. Thankfully, we were spared “Mario With Big Muthafuckin’ Guns” as they could only map the A button to either jump or shoot the gun. Alas, cooler heads prevailed and a-jumping we all went!
Super_Mario_Bros

Who else makes the Mario face with these blocks?

As for the story, when you say it out loud, it sounds like you may have just left the Guggenheim with Tim Leary on enough LSD to kill a rhino. At the base level, it’s two dudes saving a princess from an evil dragon. That’s where the logic ends and the kick-assery begins. Aforementioned “dudes” turn out to be two plumbers who starred in the previous title (Mario Bros, apropos) who eat magic mushrooms, jump like Lebron on a sugar high, and throw fireballs. There were power-ups in games before but one that doubled your size? Another that shot fire out of your hands? One that turned you into an invincible Goomba destroying machine? Never before had anyone seen anything like this and it was just captivating. Every world has 4 stages, with the fourth being a castle controlled by a fake version of Bowser until World 8. The stages are greatly varied with only two stages being re-hashes of the previous ones. My personal favorite is what I called as a kid “The Void” because it was alot like 1-3 but all in black and white. It was the perfect adventure for young gamers, you ran through grassy plains, made your way through dark caves, swam to your next destination, and avoided flying fish and shit-kicking beetles the whole way.
Super_Mario_Bros
My personal fav, “The Void” 5-3

Let’s not forget the music. Holy mother of God, the music. Everyone, and I mean everyone knows the Mario 1-1 Theme (officially known as “Ground Theme”) created by Mr. Kondo. When you think that just his royalties on ringtone sales for that one theme alone have him set for life, it is staggering, considering he also did work on the soon-to-be reviewed Legend of Zelda. No bullshit, and I’ve done this, you can walk practically anywhere, start whistling the Mario Theme and people will follow suit. It is like a gamer handshake. We only think of it as what it is, but if you told me as a kid “Hey, that’s a Calypso beat with steel drums!”, you would’ve been looked at like you just puked on my feet while I was wearing flip-flops. Calypso my balls, that’s simply the Mario Theme.
Super_Mario_Bros

Firework mystery, talk of the playground.

The controls couldn’t be more spot-on. If you died, it was your own damned fault, pick your head up little soldier and try, try again. The magnificent part of it is that at the time, these guys were creating the mold as they went and did so in ways that would re-define gaming forever. Sure, you had Metroid, Zelda, Contra among others that were just as great in their own ways but there is something about Mario that is more than can be described but I’ll give it a go. You are CONSTANTLY doing shit in Mario. In just 1-1 alone, you meet the Goombas, Koopas, Mushrooms, 1-Up, Fire Flower, Star Man, break blocks to find hidden goods, keep watch on your coin counter, make sure you beat the timer, duck on top of every pipe to see if it will take you anywhere, and try to figure out how the fuck you just made fireworks appear after you grabbed the flag. THE FIRST LEVEL!!! That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of unlocking the rest of the secrets that I had to test out after hearing about it at school due to no internet in the early 80’s. Secrets exist like the -1 World, an infinite water stage glitch that I never thought was real until I saw it in Nintendo Power. One of the funniest things I’ve read was an interview with Miyamoto about the Inifinite 1-Up trick at the end of 3-1. He was asked about the glitch and he replied that there wasn’t one. He purposefully put that there and couldn’t believe people found it. Honestly, I’ve done it and the guy that figured it out had to have accidentally pulled that off, I mean, how the hell would you know?

Super_Mario_Bros

Gaming’s first catchphrase!

The only negative I can even possibly find with this game is the 2 player. If you are Mario, you have to die in order for it to be Luigi’s turn. If the person playing Mario was good, go to the store, take a shit, balance your checkbook, develop a written language for Sea Monkeys, and make a LEGO fully functional house and THEN, it might be your turn. In one of those weird “I’d never think anyone else would do this but me” things, I used to boot up 2 player, immediately feed Mario to a hungry Goomba, and rock the whole game as Luigi. Recently, I spoke to two other people who did the same thing. Awesome.

Super_Mario_Bros

Oh, 8-3 how I hate thee.

In what will be I’m sure one of the longest reviews of a game, no other game deserves it more. SMB is the benchmark of the Black Box games to this day is beaten by me at least twice a year. In an era where acheivements were real trophys on your dresser, noone cared which voice actors were used, and “X Box” was more likely to be the name of a seedy porn store on Westheimer, Super Mario Bros was the king. It has been ported and thrown on more systems than any other game besides Tetris and shows no signs of slowing down.
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The first final boss I ever met. I heart Bowser.

FINAL VERDICT
10/10. No other way this one was going. This game is mandatory to play.
Super_Mario_Bros

THE JOURNEY WILL NEVER BE OVER!!!!!

Special thanks to N-Styles for the info about the gun. If you think it’s bullshit, there are original archived documents from Miyamoto himself! Check them out here:

Medal of Honor

I originally reviewed this game on the PSP and PS3, and at that point there was a bug that would stop you from continuing, if you A. Died, B. completed a mission, or C. looked at your console funny. Now on the Vita, it seems like those problems are behind us, so I managed to complete the game and here it is, another review.

Medal of Honor - PSOne

Original release date: November 11th, 1999

Release date on PSN: June 2nd, 2009

Price : 5.99

Story

Medal of Honor - PSOne

For the uninitiated Medal of Honor is a World War 2 game, you take control of agent Patterson a member of the OSS, the “Office of Strategic Services” which was a honest to god military intelligence service that was the pre-cursor to the CIA. You and Mr. Patterson go behind enemy lines and kill lots of Germans, and stop a lot of secret Nazi weapons programs too, that are also based in history.

Character wise you’re not going to get a lot out of it. Even though the story was written by the great Stephen Spielberg, there is no real story other than see Nazi, shoot Nazi. There’s no dialogue with other characters, as you’re a single operator through-out the game. Any narration you hear is in the cut-scenes between missions, they’re really interesting actually because they’re historical films of real WW2 weapons. But don’t expect to see you character grow or there be any twists in the story.

Gameplay

Medal of Honor - PSOne

This was built to be a Goldeneye like experience, and gameplay wise I agree, it plays a lot like it. You get many different weapons, the standards, hand guns, shot guns, etc. The accuracy of the weapons are a little off it seems though, making some weapons way overpowered. If you have a rifle, you’ll headshot everyone you see, being stuck with a shotgun and a machine gun in later levels though can be a pain. While playing on the Vita touching the back pad (where R2 would be) you get the cross hairs just like you remember on Goldeneye. This was a lot tougher on the PSP,  the dual analog sticks on the Vita make this game much easier to control

The missions are objective based, but there isn’t a lot of variety. You collect this list here, then plant a bomb here, sometimes you have to show a passport for a little stealth action, but that’s a very small portion of the game. There aren’t any escort missions which might be a godsend, but it probably would have given you someone to talk to at least. It gets to be a bit of a grind without a story.

The difficulty ramps up like crazy by the end of the game as well, (someone decided to give the Nazi’s rocket launchers at some point). That can get a little frustrating, but it’s not too bad.

There’s a multiplayer mode as well, but I didn’t test that out, but I heard you can get cheats to challenge a Velociraptor as William Shakespeare.

Shooting nazi’s pretty simple concept.

Graphics

Medal of Honor - PSOne

Medal of Honor is not a looker. It’s strength comes though animations. It was one of the first games where enemies would react depending where you shot them. They catch a bullet in the foot they hop around, the arm, they cover it and etc. They will even follow you by crawling into vents something I haven’t seen in games in the latest generation, which sort of surprised me. The music is excellent though, orchestral score by Michael Giacchino the Academy Award winning composer of films like Mission Impossible 3, Up, the Incredibles etc.

The levels are a bit like mazes, and you do get caught in a lot of corridor shooting. This is mostly due to the draw distance in Medal of Honor, it is really short. It’s even tough to use a Sniper rifle, because most of the time you can’t see the soldiers shooting at you due to the distance problem. This is obviously due to the PSX limitations at the time, but it’s still frustrating getting shot at by someone you can’t see, so you have to fire wildly into the night hoping you hit the source of lead.

Is Medal of Honor worth playing?

Medal of Honor - PSOne

I had fun with it, but going through the review has really made me a bit more negative on the whole thing. It’s an interesting game that’s for sure, but the little annoyances really nip at your heels. The end of the game does sort of end abruptly as well. You would have thought with a game backed by Spielberg you would get something, instead you get a 15 second clip announcing victory. The gameplay is decent in Medal of Honor, but the total lack of story doesn’t really drive you forward to complete it.

Medal of Honor is a functional shooter, but with nothing to really get you invested other than shooting Nazis.

7/10

Banjo Kazooie

Banjo Kazooie

Format- N64

Genre- 3D Platformer

Banjo Kazooie-N64

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I think Banjo Kazooie’s a bit of a classic.

When I hear people doing retrospectives on the subjects of N64 or developers Rare however, they usually dismiss the game as a turgid collectathon.

That is completely and utterly wrong in my opinion. So without further ado, here’s my hastily assembled defence for this unfairly maligned 3D platformer…

Banjo Kazooie-N64

This was my first title for the N64, and as a result I naturally have a bit more affection for it than others might do. This doesn’t mean that I think it’s flawless though – just that most of the game’s faults are blown mostly out of proportion by its critics.

First, there’s the criticism that the game is only really about collecting items. Balderdash. Although there are far more items to bag than in, say, Super Mario 64, there really isn’t a suffocating amount so that it dilutes the actual gameplay.

This was arguably a problem in Banjo Tooie where you had several different egg types – but the original has no such issues.

Banjo Kazooie-N64

Next, the Rare staple of sticking a pair of eyes of an object is dismissed as a lazy form of characterisation. The game may go a little further than needs to at times (Loggo the toilet i’m *shudder* looking at you), but Banjo Kazooie is primarily aimed at younger players, and in that context this process is quite charming.

The same goes for the garbled voices. I like them dammit! They fit into the feel of the game perfectly.

The way people moan about these googly eyed and strangely voiced characters you’d think the game was attempting to be a piece of high art. It’s not, so this criticism is more than a little unfair.

Finally, the large move-set of the game comes in for a fair bit of stick. It’s a criticism I can actually understand – compared to the simple but deep skill set of Mario, Banjo and Kazooie’s moves seem a little less natural.

Banjo Kazooie-N64

I personally don’t mind it, but other players may not like the way the game has more attack and jump types than is really necessary. A little streamlining might not have gone amiss.

In the standout parts of the game, the worlds you explore are nearly all wonderfully varied and lovingly designed. Each world is standalone, with different enemies and wildly different challenges in each one. They’re small but have a whole lot of things to do in them.

The game’s piece de resistance is definitely Click Clock Wood. A hugely ambitious multi-season romp, it stands out from the rest of the game every time I play it.

The other worlds are all fairly tight and well designed, but then this world comes out of nowhere and dwarfs them all. This world is the high point of the game, and in my view, the entire Banjo series. I haven’t finished Nuts and Bolts though, admittedly.

Finally, the game looks gorgeous. For an N64 game it still wows me, and I can’t see the game becoming out-dated or unplayable for a long time yet. The 360 hi-res version looks nicer still. The music is also great. Sure, it’s a probably a little too lively for some, but it’s catchy as hell and fits the game to a tee.

I probably haven’t convinced or indeed unconvinced anyone with the previous spiel, but it’s good to get it off my chest nontheless. Tomorrow – something a little more obscure.

Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Released in 1989 by Seta Corporation after development by WinkySoft, the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) video game Adventures of Tom Sawyer was based on the classic book of the same title, as written by Mark Twain. Would the mischief of a boy in ol’ Mississippi translate well to a gaming experience?

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

Gameplay

Adventures of Tom Sawyer is mostly a two-dimensional side-scrolling platforming game that also scrolls vertically in portions. There are also parts that resemble a shoot-’em-up, in both scrolling orientations, taking place on a river level and a sky stage. There are six areas in total, with boss fights after each, mini-bosses strewn throughout, and plenty of enemies and precision-jumping challenges along the way.

Fortunately, Sawyer is armed with an infinite supply of generic ball-like projectiles, possibly rocks. He throws these with the B button, while the A button jumps. The balls are not thrown straight forward; no, they have a modest arc, and drop quickly, much like his body upon each of his bounds. Every once in a while, Tom may pick up a slingshot, which enables firing perfectly straight forward for a limited time, although it is often just as well not to bother picking up this supposed upgrade.

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

There is no hit-point system, no health bar, no armor setting, purely a scenario in which a single hit kills Tom Sawyer. He begins with three lives, though he does have unlimited continues, and all levels except the final have a checkpoint system at which he can reclaim his adventuring spot from there. In two-player mode, the second player plays as Sawyer’s friend Huck Finn, with alternating turns much like the Super Mario Bros series.

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

The entire gameplay has a strange, slightly “off” feeling to it, somehow. Maybe it is the standard-breaking discrepancy in the fact that most of the bosses are rather easy, while some parts of the levels are frustratingly difficult to get past without utilizing tedious trial-and-error learning methods. Perhaps it is the opening cutscene, which places the entire game supposedly within a dream, which may explain why the settings seem to try and match the real-life era, until the life-likeness is spectacularly broken by the appearance of an impossibly giant alligator or outright dinosaur creature.

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

Warning: There are cheap deaths in Tom Sawyer’s little Adventures. Enemies with erratic movement patterns, enemies that will actually appear right on top of the player if the player is proceeding too quickly, enemies with strangely behaving projectiles, etc. Even for a video game, the creative liberties taken with the laws of physics are truly something amazing to behold. That, and the river level is just friggin’ annoying.

Yet play proceeds without major issues. Even if some parts are annoying, it is rare to feel truly helpless. The ability to duck is a niceand very necessary touch, even if Sawyer can do little else but climb ladders and grab the occasional helpful pelican or red balloon. The boss fight with the enormous zeppelin is a visual spectacle, yet other levels display drab one-color backgrounds. There is minimal flickering or slowdown, but the scrolling is a bit odd in some particular sections, when the screen pauses the action to take a moment to catch up with Sawyer’s movement.

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

This a polarizing title, seeming to match of its faults with a stroke of benefit, each of its flashes of brilliance with a mind-numbing design decision. The pace shifts between sudden bursts of frantic panic and moderately long trudges through duldrums. Tom Sawyer is vulnerable, but nimble; the levels tough, but passable; the bosses easy, but captivating; this game is decent, but underwhelming.

Graphics

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

Judging the visuals of this game is an odd endeavor. The first level seems bland, with its vast swaths of plain sky, straight-up weird “pirate” archetypes, and other lacking touches; but throughout the game, there are many pleasant surprises, ranging from the massive purple gorilla boss to the seemingly gradual adding of background detail. In the end, once the smoke of dying characters has cleared, this is neither a graphics powerhouse nor an ugly beast. This check-and-balance dichotomy seems to be the theme of the game. The cutscenes are actually pretty darn nice.

Sound

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

But the soundtrack is bad. The music, even if at a couple points reaching an admirable level of compositional depth and finally utilizing all of the NES hardware sound channels, is terribly repetitious, with melodies that are minimally pleasurable to begin with. Listening to this game’s music is an exercise in brazen masochism. The sound effects are okay, but typically not memorable. A bloop here, a pop there, a boomf over somewhere else. Conclusion: “Meh.”

Originality

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

Okay, well, the source material is undoubtedly an intriguing choice to form an 8-bit video game from. The boss designs are utterly zany. The levels hit a nice variety, even abruptly changing entire genre mechanics at a spot or two. The physics of Sawyer’s projectile weapon are a signature not really replicated elsewhere.

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

But: When boiled down to its base elements, what we have here is an average platformer. While it is somewhat skillfully programmed and would be difficult, at parts, to replicate on the homebrew scene by a small team, nonetheless is the playthrough simply not very fun or visionary in its execution, resulting in its rating of two and a half stars out of five.

Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.

Astrosmash

Astrosmash - Intellivision

How often is it that a game plays a big hand in your life? I mean, really big. Like, it brought upon the birth of someone, big. Ok, obviously I’m going to have to explain THAT one…

In this edition, Prixel Derp’s Chris “Sledge” Douglas takes a look at 1981’s Astrosmash, for the Intellivision. Designed by John P. Stohl for Mattel Electronics, this game is not only a ridiculously addictive shooter, its also quite possibly the only game that will adjust it’s difficulty level as you play! And this tension… well, you’ll see…

Weird Games: Alive

Alive - FMV - PSONE

I was a fan of FMV (Full Motion Video) games, not so much as a player but as a watcher. Honestly, those games were often way to hard and cheesy even for a teenager. You would think that if all you had to do was act out a video game, movie style it would produce some great games. Sadly that was not the case.

Alive - FMV - PSONE

Case and point is this PlayStation One game from 1998 called Alive. This game was created by the now bankrupt, General Entertainment. I mean with a name like that is it surprising that they failed? This game featured a 20 year old Japanese girl that is accused of murder. Like in classic games such as, Dragon’s Lair, you needed to make quick movements and commands and make sure they are the correct ones or you die and its game over.

Now the game is in Japanese, but you can piece together the story from the video, sort off. As stated you are accused of murder and must fight to prove your innocence. Of course you are being hunted by the cops and there are a ton of dangers you have to avoid. You are in a futuristic city even though it says 2003 they have tech that looks way beyond that, then again it is Japan.

To say the graphics are bad is an understatement, but I guess you can give them a little slack, but just a little. As a side note and because I am a sick puppy, I laughed really loud watching this video and seeing the “vibrator on” open on the title screen. You play as Atsuko-Kawada and while the game starts off peaceful it isn’t long before you realized something is wrong and you need to get out of there.

So the gameplay works like this. During some sequences you have three choices, active, cleaver and escape. You have a limited amount of time to choose one and the wrong one can delay you or give you the game over screen. Later in the game you get additional choices to make such as, when you are driving you can go left or right or go up or down. Once you have a weapon you will get a moving target indicator and will need to time your shots to hit the enemy. Failure to do so almost certainly spells doom.

Alive - FMV - PSONE

As stated the graphics are not that great. Obviously it is FMV, but the added animation is not well done. You can really see this in the car crash and explosions scenes. It is pretty bad. You can also tell in the gun shots that they use squibs, but all this goes along with the bad acting and overdone death scenes. If there is something I would say this game is known for it is the death scenes, especially the knifing scenes and the abrupt Game Over screen with what sounds like a cheap version of the Law and Order gong.

Full disclaimer, I never got to play this game. There are like no articles or wiki’s on it. I had to piece together everything from the videos. However, the game is interesting enough that it deserves to be talked about if nothing else, but to watch some of the videos and have a good laugh.

Hello Kitty World

hello-kitty-famicom

We come to another edition of Retro Game of the Week, this time around we have a game that seems to be just a hack of a very awesome game for the Game Boy. Nevertheless, it’s here to stay and it’s just totally awesome. If you can look over the Hello Kitty characters, then you’ll be all set. Enjoy as Hello Kitty World enchants you with its magic!

hello-kitty-famicom

The music is the same one as the Balloon Kid game. The game does a great job at entertaining you with tunes you’ll surely remember. It’s not the best of a soundtrack, but it does the job. You can’t get any better than 8-bit music anyways…it’s making a comeback!!

hello-kitty-famicom

The graphics are good. Just think of it as being a colored Game Boy title. After all, it is based on a Game Boy game. Either way, everything looks great. You won’t run into any dead ends due to the graphical interface of the levels so you’ll not only enjoy the sights but enjoy the gameplay as well.

hello-kitty-famicom

The gameplay is quite entertaining. You keep yourself levitated with two balloons and your goal is to get across the level without getting your balloons popped! It may sound simple but believe me, levels get tougher and tougher as you move along. Even if you get your balloons popped you’ll be able to inflate new ones to fly into the sun! Of course, you gotta make sure you don’t land on the different obstacles that will definitely kill you such as fire.

hello-kitty-famicom

The best part about older games is the their replay value is infinite. That’s why you see people playing such games as Tetris or Pacman in their more advance devices. Simple fun stuff is always welcomed and this is no different. You can go through the entire game and go for it again and again. When you don’t need to remember passwords or save the game, you have less stress going on, believe me.

This is another obscure game that never made it to the NES but if you do want to play the cheap alternative then I suggest getting Balloon Kid, other than that you should import this game as soon as possible. It’s a lot of fun and well…it’s Hello Kitty!!

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

I had gotten and beaten Ocarina of Time shortly before this game came out. I couldn’t contain my excitement for awhile.
The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask

Despite a lot of recycled graphics, Majora’s Mask is one of the most unique Zelda games ever. It’s dark, weird, has aliens, and is about the end of the world. Not exactly a typical adventure in Hyrule. Hell it’s not even set in our favorite Nintendo kingdom.

The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask

The moon in Majora’s Mask used to freak me out. Wasn’t so scary looking far away in the sky when I played Ocarina.
The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask
I didn’t like Deku too badly. Blowing bubbles and gliding were pretty lame.
The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask
Goron Link was much better, strong but slow. Unless you were rolling, which was beyond awesome.
The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask
Zora Link was the best. I loved zipped zagging through the water. Plus the twin blade fin attack was pretty neat.
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I do admit my disappointment with Oni-Link. I worked so hard to get every mask, and turns out he just plays like Adult Link in Ocarina….
The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask
I did hate the 3-day system, crappy ways to save your game/inventory, and the fact that there were only 4 dungeons. It did have the best side-quests in the series, so I still love it.

Whomp ‘Em

Whomp ‘Em

In 1991, when they were not busy releasing another Bases Load sequel, Jaleco released a side-scrolling platformer for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System console called Whomp ‘Em. Following a Native American protagonist named Soaring Eagle on his quest to seek mystical totems, Jaleco put plenty of developer muscle into fine-tuning this title. But in tuning the mechanics so finely, did they miss the big picture?

Gameplay

Whomp em

A seasoned NES player recognizes the formular: The directional pad moves the on-screen character, the A button jumps, and the B button attacks. While Whomp ‘Em begins with this formula, it certainly adds many ingredients. On a minor note, Soaring Eagle can duck.

But in a major way, Soaring Eagle’s attacks can be incorporated into a variety of moves. Holding B while running keeps his spear ahead of him, damaging incoming foes. Holding Down in midair enables him to drop the spear’s tip upon the head of unlucky enemies. The spear can even be used as a shield against certainly projectiles, if held in the right manner and in the right spot. The spear can even be directed upward, by pressing Up when jumping. This gives the player a variety of ways to damage creatures, and many angles to utilize.

Whomp em

Then there are the items, which form quite an in-depth in-game economy. Although the player begins with just a few hearts on the health bar, these hearts can be increased by collecting gourds. But the number of gourds needed to gain a heart of health increases each time, until the player needs 99 gourds to gain the 12th and final heart unit of hit points.

And this is not even to mention the bonus items that add to attack or defense until the player is hit, nor the health-increasing grabs. Perhaps the most intriguing item-driven mechanic, however, is how Whomp ‘Em handles extra lives: The “magic potion” item essentially is an extra life, but the player is limited to holding three at a time. This is a strange, different-from-the-norm way to handle an extra-life mechanic. It does seem to add some tension, as it removes the possibility of simply hoarding dozens of lives, as can be done in other games, while also making it a priority at times to hunt for those crucial hidden potions.

Whomp em

Much like Capcom’s Mega Man series, Whomp ‘Em lets the player select what order he or she would like to conquer the stages in. At the end of each level is an environment boss. Defeating this character gives the player a new selectable weapon type to use; typically, a boss is especially vulnerable to a certain weapon, which gives the player incentive to strategize smartly as to their order of play.

Whomp em

Taken together, these separate elements would seem just fine, quite enough to put together in order to create a formidable video game. Whomp ‘Em does proceed crisply, offering the player well-honed fighting mechanics to use throughout a variety of stages in an experience that proves to be a worthy challenge. However, well-designed items and enemies aside, Whomp ‘Em does have some flaws.

Whomp em

The additional weapon are underwhelming. Most of them just make the basic attack reach a little further, which there is already an item for, and prove to not be any more useful against most regular enemies. This is a strange choice, and could have been for any number of reasons, but it is definitely disappointing to gain the flame weapon – and notice that it only shoots a small fire out of the tip of the spear, like a blowtorch.

Whomp em

Some of the stage designs are questionable. Among Let’s Players and others, the final level has gained notoriety for being rather difficult and just plain cheap. These design errors are evident elsewhere, though: Several areas force the player to make blind jumps, which is hardly ever fun. At least the player can aim the spear downward, likely helping the cause in these cases. There still remain, though, a few spots in which it is tough to tell which elements are mere background and which are needed platforms, along with dubious practices in enemy regeneration.

Whomp em

Then there are the bosses, which range wildly between very cool and a just-right level of difficulty – to ones that are spectacularly frustrating, with such traits that include the ability to instantly take away the player’s extra lives at a single touch. While none of the bosses are impossible, and all are pattern-based, the use of cheap tactics in order to artifically inflate their challenge is a bit eyebrow-raising, to say the least.

Whomp em

Overall, Whomp ‘Em is a pretty good game, and just that. It is not an all-time great. It is rarely seen on top-10 lists, but deservedly so; even then, it has perhaps been overlooked a tad, since it is still better than most 8-bit titles, and while nitpickers can find many flaws, the entirety was made well as a whole.

Graphics

Whomp em

Whomp ‘Em looks great. The enemy designs are fun and varied, while some of them even move smoothly in interesting ways – check out the floating hands in some of the vertically oriented portions. The levels are lush with colors, but better graphical signals could have been used, such as with the bizarre “electric” clouds on the final stage. Also, this game does suffer from some flickering. The pixel artists was skilled, but the execution was not quite fully polished. For instance, that jump animation looks super weird.

Sound

Whomp em

For a video game that feels like it was trying to be The Next Big Thing on NES, the music has a strange strata to it. While the composition mostly maintains a sense of skillful rendering, even summoning a vague Native American sensation at times, but at others falls flat or even gets downright irritating. At least the sound effects are satisfying.

Originality

Whomp ‘Em has been accused of being a Mega Man clone. You can offer the character stage selection right away alone without getting that accusation, or just borrow enemy powers, or have stage-end bosses, or involve pesky precision-jumping puzzles; but combine those, along with elemental weaknesses, and you have a recipe for such reputation. Then again, with a training level to start, the impressive in-game economy of items, the Native American flourishes, and an overall theatrical flair, Whomp ‘Em deserves a look, and is a bit more than a mere clone… even if it still never reaches the heights that a great Mega Man game achieves. Perhaps it would be a little better with a smidge more length, coupled with an adequate password or save function. Alas.

Overall rating: 3.5/5 stars.

Luigi’s Mansion

Luigis Mansion - Gamecube - Cover

Format- Gamecube

Genre- Ghostbusters, but with Luigi

Considered an unrecognised classic by many, is Luigi’s Mansion really that good? I would say…no. It definitely doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, but it’s not up there with the greats. It’s ‘merely’ very good.

Now that mild criticism is out of the way, lets me just say what the game does well.

It’s quite obvious why Luigi’s Mansion hasn’t dated as badly as other games of its era. Very tightly designed, the game’s small, self-contained environments have actually helped to give it a somewhat timeless appeal.

Sure, the detailed graphics don’t look quite as nice as they did on the Cube’s launch, but they still have a rather endearing appeal, and there are some nice touches present throughout.

Luigis Mansion - Gamecube

The gameplay mechanics are also commendable, with a pretty much perfect take on busting ghosts. The pull-back analogue control for grabbing ghouls is the perfect mix of randomness and skill, and feels physical enough to be hugely satisfying. Especially with a rumble enabled controller (sorry Wavebird users).

Puzzles are a mixed bag. The majority are nothing too taxing, but the way the game squeezes as many ideas as it can out of Luigi’s limited moveset is admirable. But occasionally you do feel the game is struggling to design a puzzle that is different enough to a previous one. This doesn’t really detract from the experience to any significant degree though.

Luigis Mansion - Gamecube

It helps that the game isn’t too long. This means it doesn’t outstay its welcome and is a manageable (but not too short) size.

For the most part, you’re just happy to soak up the game’s unique atmosphere. Sure, you’ve probably been through a scary mansion before (Resident Evil), and you may have had the chance to play as Luigi before (Mario is *shudder* Missing!) – but have you experienced both those together?

Luigi is a lovable coward (his nervous humming of the game’s theme tune is priceless), and the supporting cast of enemies and allies is a memorable bunch as well. It’s a game you’ll want to revisit every few years, for sure.

Overall, it’s very obvious why this game is close to many people’s hearts. It may not be perfect, but it’s a hidden Gamecube gem.

Spelunker

Spelunker

I got this game for like .99 a while back.  Thought it was worth the  money just for the cool light on the cartridge:) Lights make everything better!  The game is Spelunker made by irem according to the game case, but when the title screen loads up it says Broderbund Software….

Spelunker

There isn’t much for controls, directional pad moves from side to side, A jumps and B uses your drill.  Thing is it’s insanely easy to die, jump down a couple pixels to far, you are dead and you will be dying a lot.  Check out my gameplay video…

It’s kind of frustrating, so I’m going to need a lot more practice and figure out what to do so I don’t keep dying constantly.  At least it was only .99 cents!

Spelunker

 

Magical Tetris Challenge

Magical Tetris Challenge

Magical Tetris Challenge

Format- N64

Genre- Tetris, Disneyfied

Has the addition of Disney in any form ever made a game significantly better? Meteos: Disney Magic added nothing to the rather good gameplay of the original, just added some pointless storyline claptrap.

Even Kingdom Hearts, the game which is pretty much built on all things Disney, suffers from having too many cartoon characters to be even remotely understandable by outsiders. A little selective culling of Disney would do wonders there.

Magical Tetris Challenge

Magical Tetris Challenge is worse than those two though. Much worse. The first thing that hits you is its quite appallingly shambolic presentation. It feels like a SNES game for the most part, trying to cover up it’s low rent attitude with colour and Disney characters. It doesn’t work. A SNES version might have looked better actually.

The story mode is clealry the main focus, so naturally you play that first. You can choose from a few characters but the outcome is pretty much the same. Two animated freaks meet up and natter about nothing for a bit, and then suddenly Tetris is brought up in the conversation and – hey! – you’re playing Tetris, just like that.

Magical Tetris Challenge

It’s almost as if Tetris is somehow the solution to all these characters problem, like some kind of block based currency. It makes more sense than real life though – Tetris battles should be used everytime two groups disagree about something. That will, sadly, never happen though.

Regarding the actual block twisting part of the game, it works well enough – up to a point. There you are, twisting blocks, winning, laughing, and cavorting, but all of a sudden a freakishly shaped block appears.

Magical Tetris Challenge

You weren’t warned. You didn’t see it coming. A freakish tetronimoe outcast, it could take one of many forms. A weird zig-zag abomination, a ridiculously long one block beanpole or a ‘screw you’ lardarse square spanning many squares in width. It could be any of these, and they all mess your game up like no-ones business.

I can make it through the first stage of the story mode, and the second at a pinch, but not much further. The addition of freak blocks mean a tough game is made much more difficult. Balance is thrown out of the window.

There are some other modes, and somewhere there’s an option to actually play a proper game of Tetris. But really, the game fails in my eyes.

It’s not exciting and effective enough to be considered a colourful Tetris side attraction, and it doesn’t play the game straight enough to be considered a worthwhile Tetris game in of itself.

Fortunately I only spent 60p on it (haggled the seller down from £1) in a car boot a year or so ago, so the game being a failure doesn’t work out too badly on me. I would consider a purchase very carefully if you were to pay any more than that though.

Soul Calibur II

 soulcalibur2
Soul Calibur II was a huge hit on all 3 consoles, but I think many people opted out for the Gamecube version for one reason.

soulcalibur2

That reason was because Link from the Legend of Zelda was a playable character. Spawn was in the Xbox version while Heihachi from Tekken was in the PS2 version. I remember some fanboys of the other two systems saying Link didn’t even fit in the SC universe. Yeah I’m sure a weaponless fighter and an african-american demon from hell are perfect matches too. Link fit well with his master sword, bow, and bombs.

soulcalibur2

The rest of the game was good as the arcade version but with more modes and whatnot. Spent many hours playing this game. Unlocked all the characters, bought most of the weapons, even read some of the awful back-stories. My favorite in the series, and for the record I thought Soul Calibur IV was a big disappointment.

Twin Cobra

Twin Cobra

Twin Cobra is not officially a sequel to Tiger-Heli, but it sure seems like it. Although Micronics developed the arcade port for the NES for its predecessor, the pleasure of publishing Twin Cobra went to American Sammy in 1990, rather than Acclaim’s work to distribute Tiger-Heli.

TwinCobra

Gameplay

Twin Cobra is a military-themed vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up in which the player controls an advanced attack helicopter and wages a one-craft war against the evil enemy, who fights back with copters of their own, tanks, boats, turrets, in addition to other vehicles and obstacles. There is some horizontal scrolling as well, a bit to the left and right, adding a sense of size to the ten looping levels and an enhanced sense of flying freedom for the player.

The A button launches a devastating bomb, of which the player can hold up to nine at a time and find by shooting various objects for bonus items. The B button fires the primary weapon. Twin Cobra has a very solid variety of weaponry. To begin with, there are four types of ammo: The starting weapon, which has red-orange shells firing forward; a green-projectile weapon, which concentrates fire in a straight direction forward; a white-blue shot, which spreads in a radiated path forward; and a crazy multi-directional brown-ball weapon, which even slightly homes in on hostiles.

TwinCobra

In addition to the variance in weapon types, they can also be upgraded via collecting “S” items, with six total levels of upgrade, resulting in an annihilating amount of firepower. Even though only two shots can be on-screen at once, when fully upgrades, this still represents several projectiles in mid-flight, even up to a couple dozen in certain cases.

The player begins with three choppers, gaining an extra one when 50,000 points are reached; afterward, 150,000 points is required per one-up. Five continues are given. To grant the player a rest between frenetic rounds of bullet-blasting, each stage ends by landing on an aircraft carrier helipad for a brief rest from the firestorm festivities. Bonus points are totaled if the player was able to collect an amount of star items without dying. The white stars, rather than give bonus points, instead grant temporary invulnerability, as does a respawn.

TwinCobra

Twin Cobra does not have the most polished presentation, but it definitely offers a challenge that makes hearty demands on a player’s reflexes and flight tactics. Fans of the genre will enjoy discovering the absolute to-the-pixel limits of the chopper’s hit box, while casual players may be intrigued by the sheer amount of action on the screen at any given moment. There are even boss fights to contend with. Better than the plainest of shooters but not quite as refined in its quality as the better titles, Twin Cobra is quite decent, and will be fancied by some while ignored by others.

Graphics

TwinCobra

Twin Cobra definitely has to deal with flickering and slowdown. With multiple moving enemies firing multiple projectiles while the player-copter itself is firing multiple projectiles of its own, perhaps it is no minor miracles that the NES does not simply give up and freeze during the proceedings. The actual vehicle designs are alright, somewhat par for the course as far as these games go, but presentable. The staging is solid, as the player will find the chopper traversing over ocean naval forces, jungles, and even fighting some enemies on rails. The projectiles can seem a little odd, since most of them are just colored balls, but such lack of realism can probably be forgiven, given its 8-bit setting.

Sound

TwinCobra

Eh. The music is not awful in its composition, but the tonal quality leaves a bit to be desired. Those square-wave channels are a little obvious, and come off as tinny, plain (for digital musicianship), and not as rich as it could be. As for the sound effects, an enemy ship exploding sounds like a soft splash in the ocean, whereas the protagonist definitely suffers from “pew pew pew” syndrome, with very wimpy gunshot sounds. Twin Cobra is not a soundtrack powerhouse. Those wearing rose-colored glasses may find some appeal in its simplicity.

Originality

TwinCobra

Twin Cobra is undoubtedly not the first military-themed vertically scrolling shooter on the NES, and not even the first to feature a helicopter as hero. Thankfully, it features a much greater gameplay variety than Tiger-Heli, especially in the arsenal offered and enemy/boss designs. The basic level-loop, high-score-seeking shell is intact, and the general rule of “your mileage may vary” applies here. One does get the impression of Twin Cobra being somewhat rough around the edges, if anything. Overall, not the most staggeringly innovating 8-bit video game, but it can hardly be accused of being boring. A worse starting point for the shmup category could be found.

Rating: Two and a half stars out of five.

Chew-Man-Fu

Chew Man Fu

Perhaps it is the Japanese equivalent to the Ham-burglar.

Chew Man Fu

 

In Chew Man Fu your mission is to stop this hungry little man from stealing all the worlds’ fried rice and egg rolls. The game plays sort of like Pengo and you have to take out the enemies by firing the balls you place on each of the 500 stages. Developed by Now Productions and published by Hudson Soft and NEC in 1990 you can also find this game on the Wii’s virtual console.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

 Paper_Mario_Thousand_year_door
The sequel to the fan-favorite and practically only good RPG for the N64 was almost the hit as it was for the system that came before it.
Paper_Mario_Thousand_year_door

With the game-play and story-style almost unchanged, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door did receive a good graphics boost. And when you have a decently fun RPG combat system, there’s not much room to complain when its not drastically different. I think all the Super Paper Mario haters can agree on that one.

Paper_Mario_Thousand_year_door

The second Paper Mario game has an epically long quest with lots of quirky humor (there’s a tranny ghost who has a crush on Mario; I’m completely serious), and interesting characters. Be warned that the difficulty jumps for no apparent reason right at the end. Other than that, I can say that Thousand Year Door is a worthy successor to not only Paper Mario, but Super Mario RPG.

Wolfenstein 3D: Atari Jaguar

Format- Atari Jaguar

Genre- FPS

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

You’ve no doubt played Wolfenstein, or are at least aware of its existence. But have you played it on the Jag? You really should you know – it’s really rather good.

Remember back in my Power Drive Rally piece I said there were a few reasons why the Jaguar wasn’t completely rubbish? This is another of those reasons.

The Jaguar wasn’t 64 bit, but it could churn out a simple game like Wolfenstein with nary a glitch. The whole thing is super-smooth and one of slickest versions of the game it’s possible to play.

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

Enemies are large and detailed, and their soundbites always make me laugh. Why they say their positions (‘Luftwaffe!’ ‘SS!’) when they strike is beyond me. It’s like they’re Pokemon trained Nazis or something. No wonder they didn’t win the war (check this great Youtube video of Hitler’s reaction to the Wolfenstein story unfolding).

The bosses add a much needed shot of variety as well, and their catchphrases are often repeated by me in real life, i’m that sad. Classics such as ‘i’m coming for yer!’ have lived long in my memory.

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

In many versions of Wolfenstein there are far too many levels between boss stages, and they wear you down at times with their somewhat monotonous layouts. Here though, a fair few levels have been snipped, and this results in a far more manageable and fun experience.

Although it’s archaic in many, many ways the game is still good for a quick shot of retro blasting fun. Talking about it actually makes me want to play it again, which is always a good sign.

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

The Jag version also has the useful feature of three save slots which can be saved to while playing, by tapping either the 1, 2 or 3 buttons on the controllers keypad. No pausing is necessary. Just make sure you don’t press them when you mean to look at the map screen number button. This feature really helps to make the game an even more instantaneous, fuss free fun-fest.

There’s is an oft-cited problem that the game’s enemy sprites were 2D however, and could therefore only be seen facing you. This mean that there was no way to sneak up on them. This isn’t really a problem for me though – who really attempts to be stealthy in Wolfenstein?

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

The only minor annoyance this 2D enemy issue really creates is when you enter a new room. Enemies can open fire on you from the sides, with you having no chance to fire back and avoid damage. This results in you bobbing into a room and quickly back out again, a tactic you have to use for the later, tougher levels.

As with most Jag games it’s hard to find cheap, but if you have the console it’s worth picking up. I’ll be looking at the other retro Wolfenstein titles I have over the next few months, but this is definitely one of the best.

Magical Dinosaur Tour

magical_dinosaur_tour

Pretty much whenever you see the words Magical and tour in something it means educational which for many means boring. This game was released in 1990 so it was before the whole Dinosaur craze, but it would have fit right in if you had a child that really liked learning about Dinosaurs and whom you wanted to punish by giving them this instead of say Ninja Spirit.

magical_dinosaur_tour

So you get to explore a magic area and watch and learn about Dino’s but that is pretty much it. You can watch them living and searching for food and the coolest part is when they roar. The game did not look bad, but it took forever to load and honestly it was one of those games that seems cool when you buy it until it is loaded up and you realize you are in school.

King of Kings: The Early Years

Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

King_of_Kings

Wisdom Tree: A developer that produced unlicensed video game cartridges for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console, doing so without Nintendo’s authorization or now-infamous Seal Of Approval. They rather boldly did within the guise of publishing Jesus-themed games, even selling their carts in Christian bookstore-type outlets, with the shrewd knowledge that Nintendo would hesitate to threaten legal action against such an organization, since the resulting press would likely earn them some sort of Jesus-hating reputation and would then realistically hurt their sales.

King_of_Kings

The games themselves were of questionable quality, sporting some flaws in their mechanics despite what could be considered impressive execution at all, given their limited resources as a small-time development group. The notoriety followed them from their days as Color Dreams, however, and their titles under either brand are somewhat derided in the present era. Nonetheless, King of Kings can be considered one of Wisdom Tree’s finest efforts, even if still not quite a spectacular video game. Although such designation is unofficial, it is sometimes thought of as the sequel to Bible Adventures, considering the very similar visuals and nearly identical gameplay mechanics, especially in the Jesus and the Temple portions.

Gameplay

Interestingly enough, King of Kings is actually comprised of three different complete platformer games, all on one cartridge, each dealing with a different segment of the life of Jesus Christ, and selectable from the title screen: The Wise Men, Flight to Egypt, and Jesus and the Temple.

King_of_Kings

In The Wise Men, the player controls one of the three wise man, rotating every couple levels, as they journey across platform levels with Middle Eastern flavor, from barren desert to ornate palace. Realistically, the wise men ride camels rather than travel the whole way on foot; strangely, the character controls the camel directly, including their combative spit. Between spitting at enemies, consuming fruit to launch a more powerful one-time special attack depending on which sort is eaten, and leaping rather tall heights to tackle precision-jumping challenges, the player must eventually make it to the manger scene where infant Jesus awaits, even collecting gifts for the King along the way, in units of frankincense, myrrh, and gold.

In Flight to Egypt, the player controls Joseph, Mary, and infant Jesus atop a Donkey, as they trek up mountainous terrain, presumably somehow toward Egypt, upward and upward, following the Biblical narrative of trying to escape Herod’s edict to kill all infant males, in his misguided attempt to get rid of this “new king” baby he had heard of. Perhaps humorously, the player can attack with the B button as the donkey twists and kicks with his hind legs, the sole way to contend with wild attacking animals, even fierce beasts like lions. Falling boulders and trail gaps pose challenges as well as the family dangerously treks the seemingly endless route to Egyptian safety.

King_of_Kings

In Jesus and the Temple, the player actually controls characters on foot, alternating between Joseph and Mary per level. With gameplay mechanics most akin to the Bible Adventures game, precision-jumping challenges are back, including classic logs-on-a-waterfall bits, ala Super Mario Bros. 2. Once again, wild animals are on the prowl as well, even little frogs. The point is, Joseph and Mary are traversing through this levels in order to find twelve-year-old Jesus, who has gone missing; just as in the Biblical account, he has left his parents to go teach in the temple with great insight.

In all three games, the player has a health bar displayed in terms of scrolls, with each hit from an enemy element usually taking a half-scroll away. Scrolls of health can be regained, however, by way of answering Bible questions encountered when scroll icons are touched throughout the course of the levels. Thankfully, the questions and answers are completely displayed on-screen, rather than in Bible Buffet, another Wisdom Tree game, where multiple-choice answer options are offered, but the questions were contained in a separate book, making any relevant interaction impossible without the instruction manual.

King_of_Kings

Overall, these are fairly basic platformers, each representing a simple goal with little flair or extras to accompany the tedious action. One admirable angle may be the surprising challenge that each choice presents, though, as the difficulty level is actually decent; although these are Bible games, they are not the most kid-friendly, as most children would eventually get frustrated at trying to complete these, especially the latter two. Then again, that can also be construed as a weakness, so really, no matter how you slice it, this is a video game destined for the middle of the road in terms of its place of quality compared to the other titles in the NES canon.

Graphics
King_of_Kings
Admittedly, this game’s graphics are actually not too terrible. Its large, colorful sprites and weirdly impressive backgrounds (well, in certain spots), along with detailed level designs, put King of Kings far ahead of many other 8-bit titles on the NES. Whether this was due to the late-cycle release timing general mastery of the hardware tools, or specific development staff gaining familiarity with generating visuals after prior Color Dreams/Wisdom Tree titles, either way it is not bad. However, the actual animation is what brings the presentation down a notch; as unlicensed games are wont to do, at times the movement is somewhat choppy, stilted, and not as smooth as a player would want, even glitching out in crazy ways at times, such as firing the character forward at warp speed or juggling them around in arcane fashion. In addition, the animated icons, like the words flying around and the item tallies after each levels, are somewhat cool; but “somewhat cool” like a neat animated .gif, in the sense that it looks neat, but is really a cheap effect and nothing truly artistic.

Sound

Give those wacky non-license developers some credit for the unique elements inherent in their work. This is a distinctive NES game in terms of its soundtrack, in that it shows points of brilliance right alongside points of head-scratching oddity. Some of the effects are very enjoyable, like those rapid countdown shots to tally points and item collections after each level, in varying pitches and notes. Then there are the hymn-inspired tunes, that can come across as either annoying or amazing, depending on one’s tastes, it could be supposed. From Go Tell It On The Mountain to We Three Kings, a veritable Christian Christmas Carol is on full display; and decently composed, too, despite mostly sounding like they may have only been taking advantage of two wave-shapes from the NES sound channels rather than a full set. Nonetheless, at least there is a bass line beneath the recognizable melodies.

Originality

Judging the originality of a Bible game, what a proposition. Creating an 8-bit cartridge based on the early life of Jesus Christ was certainly a new idea, and nobody else was likely to touch it. In fact, even in the decades since, King of Kings may truly be the only such game. Even a few of the gameplay touches have strokes of innovation, from the camel-spit attacks to the flying icons on the tally screens to the Wisdom Tree trademark of answering Bible trivia for health boosts.

Yet, overall, undeniably, on the scale of NES platformers, this is a smack-dab center title on the spectrum. What is intact here is a beginning-to-end adventure, in three different flavors, each with their tweak difference in mechanic, and each posing a worthy challenge. That being said, this is noMega Man or Castlevania or Mario or Sonic or other legendary platform game of such stature. Jerky movements, unresponsive controls, and a premise that may make some gamers uncomfortable all add up to a game that, despite Wisdom Tree’s best efforts, still does not quite measure up to the greats, nailing (oops, bad pun choice?) two and a half stars out of five.

Battle Mania

Battle Mania - Sega Genesis
So we are back with another entry of the week! This time around we have the awesome game Battle Mania for the Sega Genesis. This is an awesome shoot ’em up game for the classic console. It’s totally recommended! And here is why!
Battle Mania - Sega Genesis
The music and sound effects are spot on! You will definitely feel upbeat and ready for battle with the music score of this gem of a game. Totally overjoyed with power!
Battle Mania - Sega Genesis
 The game looks wonderful and there is always a lot of action going through each of the stages. The stages also have awesome backgrounds and the enemies are very detailed. You definitely will get a joy from looking at this game.
Battle Mania - Sega Genesis
The gameplay is genius! You can guide your two gals through the stages and detach them as you go in order to plan an strategy for victory! You’re going to need all your cunning to get through the stages but it’ll be an enjoyable experience overall. If you are a fan of shoot ’em ups and cute girls, then check this baby out!
Battle Mania - Sega Genesis
The game is always a fun journey from beginning to end so you’ll definitely find it enjoyable and challenging. Why not try to beat the game without dying once? That will make your entire afternoon a blast!
Battle Mania - Sega Genesis
To conclude, the game is just awesome! With great graphics, awesome gameplay, and a high rate of replay value Battle Mania will be one of your favorite Genesis games ever! The game is a little pricey but I’m sure you can find other alternatives or just use a damn emulator!

Cratermaze

Cratermaze

Traveling through time with four of your best friends, what could go wrong? No, this isn’t the plot for an upcoming movie (or is it). This is the overview for the game Cratermaze released by Hudson Soft for the TurboGrafx-16 in 1990.

Cratermaze

So you are traveling through time with friends and an evil villain kidnaps them and you have to travel through more time periods to save them. Along the way you “collect” (cough *steal* cough) treasures from the various periods. Every 15 levels you rescue a friend (what did he leave them as breadcrumbs). Also on level 30 and 60 there is a floating super boss that can kill you with a single touch.

Why can’t they just be normal people and travel to the previous week can play the winning lotto numbers like the rest of us would?

Blue Stinger

Blue Stinger - Sega Dreamcast

Blue Stinger (1999)
By: Climax Graphics / Activision  Genre: Survival Horror  Players:  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega Dreamcast  
Also Available For: Nothing

As game systems get more and more powerful over the years it’s only natural that the games played on them will evolve to make better use of them too, and occasionally new genres appear. One such genre was arguably started by Alone in the Dark which appeared in 1992 for the PC but I don’t think anyone would deny it was the arrival of Capcom’s Resident Evil series which really saw it take off. This genre came to be known, of course, as survival horror, but it’s one that’s never really taken a hold of me. Despite this, I bought Blue Stinger at the Dreamcast’s launch and looked forward to exploring its world. Is that because it promised something more than existing survival horror games, or would I once again fail to be ensnared by this burgeoning genre?

Blue Stinger - Sega Dreamcast

In all honesty it was probably just excitement over the Dreamcast’s arrival which prompted the purchase of this game, but it does have a few differences to earlier games of its type. It’s set in the Gulf of Mexico in the vicinity of the Yacutan Peninsula. As we’re shown in the fairly decent intro sequence, this was the site of the immense meteor strike which brought to an end the age of the dinosaur. Fast forward to the year 2000 and a mysterious island is all that remains after a huge earthquake hits the presumed site of the meteor impact, and it becomes known as Dinosaur Island. It isn’t long before the island is occupied by a shady biotech corporation called Kimra. Nearly twenty years later, ESER (Emergency Sea Evacuation and Rescue) member, Eliot Ballade, is fishing in the area while on vacation with a friend when something falls from the sky, heading towards the island.
Blue Stinger - Sega Dreamcast

Soon after the island is struck by what appears to be a meteor, an energy barrier appears around it which traps Eliot’s friend, and almost capsizes their boat in the process. Needless to say, Eliot awakens on the island with only a blue, floaty creature called Nephilim for company. Urging Eliot to follow her, it’s at this point your adventure begins. To begin with you’ll just have Eliot to control but before long you’ll meet some friendly characters – Janine King, a member of the security force on the island who most of your contact with is via computer/viewscreen, and Dogs Bower, a resident of the island. From this point on you can select either Eliot or Dogs to explore the mysterious island with. Eliot is faster and more agile, Dogs is stronger and can take more damage. But damage from what, I hear you ask? The majority of Blue Stinger is a adventure game – explore the various buildings and other areas, solve simple puzzles or find items to progress, etc, but there are also some less-than-friendly creatures on the loose.
Blue Stinger - Sega Dreamcast

As you might expect from a survival horror game, the island is occupied by some horrifying creatures as well. Many of these used to be human by the looks of it, but I don’t think they’re zombies. Whatever they are, they waste little time in tearing chunks out of Eliot and Dogs if they get the chance. To begin with, your only means of fending them off is your fists but it isn’t long before you’ll start finding some more effective weapons. These come in two groups. Short-range weapons include the trusty baseball bat (do these things actually get used for playing baseball?), axe, even a light-sabre type device. Far more effective (and safer), but with finite ammunition, are the long-range weapons. These include the standard handgun and shotgun, a couple of more originals ones in the acid gun and plasma gun, and the supremely satisfying bazooka!
Blue Stinger - Sega Dreamcast

Some of these weapons can be found surreptitiously laying around, but they can also be bought at one of the various (automated) shops you’ll come across. It’s the same for ammunition, although this can also be found on some of the dead bodies you’ll periodically encounter. Eeek! Dinosaur Island is a fairly extensive place too. As well as the expected areas like the docks (which is where you start), warehouses, and research facilities, there’s also shops, banks, and all sorts of other places. It’s more like a town than a corporate headquarters – they even have their own currency – the Kimra dollar. This can be found in several places but your first source of it is a dangerous one – the terrifying monsters themselves!
Blue Stinger - Sega Dreamcast

Predictably enough, the hideous creatures increase in both strength and numbers as you progress through the game but it’s worth taking them on rather than running as each will explode in a shower of coins upon defeat! Whilst this does break the illusion a little, they are nonetheless invaluable sources of money which is needed to make decent progress. Money can also be found in a few other places, as can numerous other items. Some of them are useful but not very exciting such as keys, bank and ID cards, stamps, etc. Others are a bit more interesting but less useful such as an array of new t-shirts! Various foods and ‘Hassy’ drinks can also be found or bought which replenish your energy level to a varying degree depending on what you consume.
Blue Stinger - Sega Dreamcast

One of the biggest attractions of games like this is their realism which is probably why they, as a genre, were born relatively recently as a result of the ever-increasing power of home systems. After all, only so much realism could be achieved on the older and more limited cartridge and disc-based machines! Accordingly, considering it was one of the first Dreamcast games, Blue Stinger is a fantastic-looking game. The intro and cut-scenes are great (although the lip-syncing is a little ropey) and this was one of the first games on any system to feature a fully-3D game environment. The scale and atmosphere this helps to convey is pretty darn good and all the characters, especially the gruesome monsters, look superb. Some of the boss monsters are enormous and mightily impressive!
Blue Stinger - Sega Dreamcast

The various areas of the game have been well thought-out too and the attention to detail is top-notch. For example, the game apparently takes place near Christmas as there are decorations and jingly music around the shopping area! The voice-acting, whilst not cringe-inducing, is a little below-par but the rest of the music is of a high standard too. Some of it’s creepy as you would expect, but that Christmas tune is brilliant. There’s something very surreal about shooting the crap out of disgusting, mutated creatures while music as happy and jolly as that is playing! A vast majority of the game is viewed from a third-person perspective and, mercifully in my opinion, control over Eliot/Dogs is more akin to Tomb Raider than Resident Evil which gives the game a lot more immediacy and is greatly beneficial to the enjoyment of the game.

Blue Stinger - Sega Dreamcast
And enjoyable it is too. The graphics, sound, presentation, etc are all about as good as you could expect for a Dreamcast launch title and they still impress today but for one problem – the camera. Yep, it was a familiar story in the late 90’s. The view of the action is very good until you find yourself in a cramped corner or something similar, at which point it doesn’t seem to know where to go! That said, it’s not a game-ruining problem and it shouldn’t dissuade you from playing Blue Stinger. The story is engrossing and the interaction between the characters is superb with some amusing banter between them all. The shady Dogs rarely seems at ease with Eliot and even less so when Janine’s around (I suspect he’d be ever more incensed if he knew about the revealing pics Sega hid away of her on the game disc!).

Blue Stinger - Sega Dreamcast

Aside from the camera problem there really isn’t and bad points to this game. There’s a genuine urge to unravel the mystery and see how things end and there’s a good 10-15 hours of tense and atmospheric gameplay before you’ll get to find that out. There’s also enough secrets and small side-quests to encourage multiple play-throughs and it’s enjoyable each time. A survival horror beginner I may be, but I’d like to think I know a good game when I see one, and this is certainly that.

RKS Score: 8/10

J.B. Harold Murder Club

J.B. Harold Murder Club

The name could almost be on a rap label or like those teenage books I used to read in school. However, J.B. Harold Murder Club is a murder mystery game developed by River Hill Soft and published by Hudson Soft for the PC Engine, aka the Turbo Grafx-16 in 1991.

J.B. Harold Murder Club

In the game a wealthy womanizer named Bill Robbins has been murdered and you as J.B. Harold has to find out who did it. There is a list of suspects and you must travel around talking to people and searching for clues. For the most part you travel using a grid map and view pictures. For many of today’s gamers it would not be that interesting, but for those who like reading and solving mysteries and puzzles it was an interesting game.

Baseball Stars 2

Baseball Stars 2 - nes

Baseball Stars 2

So this week we have an awesome title. The second entry of the Baseball Stars series for the NES. Many of you might remember this as being the RPG baseball of the NES. Why RPG? Because you could actually level up your team to make them better hitters, better pitchers, and even faster and lucky. The game was so addictive that one could only wonder how great the series would’ve been on the SNES. Sadly, SNK took their talents on their own console and we never saw such a thing happen. Nevertheless, we have this beauty to remember it by so lets check it out.

Baseball Stars 2 - nes

The music of the game is actually pretty awesome. As with any baseball game on the NES or at least most of them, it would change as the mood of the game changed. For example, if you had a double and were on second base you are already in scoring position so the change and even the mood of the pitcher will change as he is thinking about stopping you from scoring. The rest of the sound effects are the usual baseball ones. Nothing that amazing but enjoyable at best.

Baseball Stars 2 - nes

The graphics of the game are great. They don’t make you wonder what’s going on and best of all it has barely any flicker on it. NES games had a lot of problem with flickering when there is a lot of stuff around the screen but this one was great at holding that off. The stadiums are your usual baseball stadiums although with different fields. They still feel like the same stadiums but we’ll let the slide. The NES could only do so much after all.

Baseball Stars 2 - nes

The gameplay of the game is nothing but wonderful. If there is a strong point of this game is the gameplay which is what makes you want to come back for more. Not only is it challenging at times, but it’s just a wonder to go through your noobie team and turn them into professionals. From beginning to end, you’ll end up powering through some tough challenges and it’ll definitely want to do it all over again.

Baseball Stars 2 - nes

Due to the long length of this game you are welcomed to come back to it at any time. It’s also a great game to play with friends especially if you use created teams. The length of the game can be changed to your liking so maybe playing a season of ten games is good enough for you? You can even play the long 100+ game seasons here. Of course, no official MLB teams but who cares, it’s a great game with amazing gameplay!

Any baseball fan should have this game in their collection. Let me rephrase that, any retro baseball fan should have this game in their collection. You just don’t know what you are missing! The game itself is beautiful, the music is amazing, and the gameplay will keep you coming back for more. This game hits everything bad about a baseball game out of the park!

Resident Evil (GameCube)

 Resident Evil - N64
Resident Evil was a huge hit on PS1, so it was kind of weird for gamers to see Capcom have a super-remake done on the Gamecube especially for it’s “kiddie” reputation.
Resident Evil - N64

The original PS1 version is a classic, but the game is dated quite a bit. Just think about it, we went from this

Resident Evil - N64

to this. Defiantly not a poor rush job on Capcom’s part. Not only is everything redone, but they added more areas, tweaked weapons, and made enemies even tougher.

Resident Evil - N64

I think my favorite part was the crimson head zombies. The regular zombie was no longer a threat, so after a few easy 9mm caps in their butts they go down easy. However after some time, the zombies revive into nastier and stronger version of themselves. The first time you see one of these guys wake up, will make you paranoid about burning or beheaded every zombie you meet.

Resident Evil - N64

The only bad thing I can say about it is that it’s a little bit too difficult. I think the PS1 version had a better balance of challenge. However it still was a fantastic job done by Capcom and really is one of the best remakes gamers have ever seen.

Ghostbusters II

Ghostbusters II

Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Ghostbuster 2 - NES

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, in the wake of the success of two blockbuster movies and a lengthy, high-quality animated series run, the Ghostbusters were a hot media franchise with the usual action figures, lunch boxes, and other tie-ins. A licensed video game on the most popular console naturally had to follow, and Activision delivered with the Ghostbusters title on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1988.

But it sucked.

Ghostbuster 2 - NES

It was truly dreadful, for many reasons, and for those who loved both the Ghostbusters and the NES machine, it was an outright heart-breaking tragedy. A couple years later, Activision would publish another Ghostbusters cartridge, this time with development work done by Imagineering, Inc. As the first video game was based on the first movie, the second video game would be based on the second film. Would it be superior?

Gameplay

Ghostbuster 2 - NES

This is, indeed, a superior video game to the original Ghostbusters title on the NES, although the second iteration certainly has its shares of flaws. The gameplay engages six levels that very loosely follow the plot of the sequel film, which hinges on the antagonist Vigo, stuck in a portrait though regaining power as the collective evilness of New York streams in a gooey river toward the museum he is in, with the Statue of Liberty posing as the only symbol of hope powerful enough to stop him.

Seriously, that’s the plot of the movie. Go watch it. The original’s better, but II is still worth seeing.

Ghostbuster 2 - NES

The game accomplishes this by, for the most part, varying between two types of gameplay: Driving levels and on-foot levels. Oddly enough, both feature jumping by use of the B button and slime-shooting (good slime, not bad – again, go watch the movie) by use of the A button. The fifth level takes an odd departure from then norm, as the player takes control of the Statue of Liberty with all four Busters in tow, and in a genre-bending style that most closely approximates a good old-fashioned shoot-’em-up, must fire at pattern-oriented flying ghosts overhead, trying to survive long enough to make it to the final battle, which all four guys get to participate in. Ghostbusters II on the NES has a two-player mode available for selection as well, even if it is in the take-turns style and not truly cooperative.

Ghostbuster 2 - NES

The side-scrolling on-foot levels cannot even be called platformers, as there is no surface but the floor to run on. The enemies are crude as well, consisting of pattern-based apparitions that bounce up and down in place, or bounce across the screen. Some are not as pattern-based, flying around, but are able to be beaten with slime blasts. The other must either be dodged to avoid, or eliminated by use of laying a trap, which is used by pressing the Start button, oddly enough. Also odd is the lack of a pause feature. Furthermore, another odd thing is that nowhere in the game can you go backward on a level; while this makes sense on the driving levels somewhat, it would be at least a tiny bit helpful as a possibility for the footpath stages.

Actually, these are not oddies: They are flaws.

Ghostbuster 2 - NES

Depending on perspective, there are a couple other features of the on-foot levels that pose as a tremendous flaw as well, or perhaps they are innovative features. Namely, this is the control scheme for aiming the slime-blaster gun and the implementation of a time limit; the former by using up and down on the directional paid to aim the gun in angled increments for several possible shooting angles, the latter by a spider that starts at the very beginning of the level, just behind the player, and slowly follows. Each time the spider catches up, it jumps onto the player and gnaws at the angle, causing the loss of one life. That is not a made-up story, that is how it works.

Ghostbuster 2 - NES

Fortunately, every time the player collects a Ghostbusters II movie logo (again, not making this up), it goes toward a tally, as every 20 earns an extra life. Collecting most of them will mean getting an extra level about every other level. This is helpful, as the game definitely poses a difficulty curve. Some portions are very challenging; during the second on-foot level, there is a particular section where three red-hued ghosts, right in a row, in a close cluster, move across the screen. Incredibly enough, each poses a different jumping pattern, oriented to differing jumping height, motion, and timing. It is nearly impossible to avoid all three without knowing their pattern, which would seem rather hard to understand without repeated playthroughs. That is the true, underlying nature of Ghostbusters II on NES: The actual levels are fairly short, but in order to conquer them, the player must rely on repeated attempts, memorization, and other tactics of mastering the game, rather than honing true skills.

Ghostbuster 2 - NES

The driving levels provide more examples of this phenomenon. Controlling the iconic ECTO-1 vehicle in a side view, the player can change to any of four lanes, even while shooting slime and jumping. The lane-changing is essential in order to dodge fixed obstacles on the road, and especially to hit the speed boosts necessary to leap large gaps in the street.

On the first level, the player notices three barricades blocking three of the lanes. Now, by their height, it could be supposed that they look low enough to jump over. This would not be an unreasonable guess. However, they are impossible to jump over, resulting in the loss of a life for a player trying that tactic. So then, now knowing to dodge those particular sorts of barricades rather than try to hurdle them, the player immediately comes across another interesting sight: Three more barricades, and the fourth lane, the free lance, has a speed boost on it. The natural inclination is to take the boost. The problem is, if the player does so, he or she will immediately slam into another set of barricades, in the form of yet another trio that leaves just one open lane. That is two lives lost, right away, on the beginning of the second level of a game. For a video game that gives the player only three lives to begin with, this seems rather harsh, even remarkably so, in light of the fact that these two deaths are practically unavoidable for a new player, despite their skill in any other genre or game.

Ghostbuster 2 - NES

Graphics

Perhaps oddly enough, Ghostbusters II is actually a pretty darn good-looking game for the NES. The on-foot stages are rendered in adequate detail, animations run smoothly, and weirdly impressively, the slime gun can fire something like nine projecticles on screen at a time without posing flickering or slowdown issues, an unusually high number not really seen in many other NES titles. The cutscenes, though usually just a single screen with perhaps some text, are a pleasantly nice touch, enjoyable and enhancing to the relevant plot. But it is the driving scenes that show off the true potential of the visuals, as buildings are shown in a gorgeous, comic-book-style skyline, complete with great use of perspective, and not resorting to lazy one-color washovers but instead really digging into the windows, lighting, etc. The drive through Central Park is fun as well, with the lust green scenary accompanied by picnic tables as the ghouls torment the driver.

Sound

Ghostbuster 2 - NES

The music is skillfully composed, offering a rendition of the classic Ghostbusters theme, along with watered-down 8-bit background version of the “Higher, Higher” track featured in the film. There is another theme or two at work as well, which is already a huge step up from the original game, which only had the one theme that played over and over and over and over and over and…

The sound effects are an improvement as well, even if not exactly mind-blowing. The slime-blasting is fleshed out well, the trap is bizarrely quiet, the car crashes sound grindy, the enemies remain astoundingly quiet. Okay, maybe the sound is not great, but it is there, and beyond the buzzy oddity of the original.

Ghostbuster 2 - NES

Originality

Speaking of original, how does one score Ghostbusters II on creativity and innovation? For the pros, we have near-unique weapons implementation in the on-foot levels, an interesting idea for posing a time limit, the always-interesting challenge of combining different styles of play in one cartridge, and inventive use of the source material in transferring to a video game.

But with its flaws in questionable game design choices (no pause, death-trap cheap tricks, very flaccid no-platforms, no-frills gameplay in either fashion) and the status of having a difficulty curve but not practicing it fairly, this cannot, and typically is not, be considered a good game. Then again, it does look pretty good (and, once again, especially in comparison to the original), offers a legitimate beginning-to-end experience, and is not nearly the worst of license titles. For offering a decent game perhaps worth mastery from true Ghostbusters fans or true NES warriors, this middle-of-the-road (literally) cart earns two and a half stars out of five.

Spartan X2

Spartan X2 - famicom

Spartan is one of the games we were sad to miss. The list of unreleased games in the USA really makes me sick! So many gems we could’ve cherished and remembered as true classic. Nevertheless, we can now import them quite easy so problem solved! Enter Spartan X2 for the Famicom. The game has a huge fun factor but there are some things that stop it from being great. Lets check it out in this week’s pick!

Spartan X2 - famicom

The music is quite good. You can’t get anything better than an 8-bit track that mimics an action packed game! The game has also a very decent sound effects scheme. It’s definitely better in every way of the first game in the series which we know as Kung Fu.

Spartan X2 - famicom

The graphics are quite good. This game is everything an action pack side scroller is supposed to look like. Even the intro has a very awesome background. The game shows it wasn’t rushed!

Amazingly, the gameplay is the same as Kung Fu except with some exceptions mainly due to the scenery. You go inside trains, the streets, and many more places. You have the main kick and punch as in the first game. You can also jump!! Tapping the buttons at the right time is crucial to survive in this game. I’ll be honest, this game may be short (4 levels) but it’s as tough as you can get especially in the final levels. Better start practicing!

Spartan X2 - famicom

The game is so short that playing it over and over can be quite fun although tiring at the same time. There is only so much you can do and the levels are very linear. There is no other way around any of the levels. Just walk from left to right until you reach the boss. In replay value this game suffers but there is always an urge to come back to it for a quick play especially if you know the length of it. Sometimes, games don’t need to be long to be fun.

This is probably not the best game to spend all your cash on but it’s definitely an interesting title as it’s the long forgotten sequel to Kung Fu. If you ever find it for a decent price, pick it up!!

A Boy and His Blob

A Boy and His Blob

Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
A Boy and his Blob
In 1990, a particularly unique video game from the mind of David Crane (the man who brought Pitfall to Atari) was developed by Imagineering Inc and Absolute Entertainment was released for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System home console. This was A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia, a title that defied many existing precedents, genres, and standards for the NES.

Gameplay

The player controls the titular Boy protagonist as the Blob tags along as a sort of pet/friend/helper character. The goal is to save the planet of Blobolonia from the evil king currently ruling it, though the player must first traverse the realm of Earth in order to gather treasure to buy vitamins (which serve as ammo for the Vitablaster weapon against later enemies, of course) in order to stand a chance of survival in further areas, including planet Blobolonia.
A Boy and his Blob
In terms of genre description, the closest parallel may be the classic point-and-click problem-solving-based adventures on old PC software; albeit, obviously, with a controller instead. The challenge is based on the premise that the Boy starts out with hundreds of jellybeans in an inventory, available by scrolling through with the Select button, and available in several different flavors. Each flavor, when fed to the Blob, transforms the Blob into a different object or even creature, which then can, hopefully, somehow be used to traverse a current obstacle or get to a previously unassailable location.

A Boy and his Blob

These jellybeans are tossed with the A button, and actually require a little care in their aiming, lest they be wasted by falling uselessly to the ground (where they are, presumably, rendered disgusting and no longer acceptable for blob consumption). The B button whistles, which calls the Blob to the Boy, if possible. Following this formula of using different jellybean-flavor functions to solve obstacle-based puzzles, the player tries to advance to the end of the game. Solutions include such choices as turning the Blob into a ladder or trampoline to reach a higher spot, a coconut to roll across certain places, a hole to drop through the floor to a lower level, or even a bubble that the Boy can use to enter underwater regions. It can be very difficult to figure out where to go next, but the cartridge does offer a little flexibility in giving a few different open-ended options for where to proceed.

Graphics
A Boy and his Blob
A Boy and His Blob has an interesting appearance. On the one hand, the screen-by-screen traveling can exude a very static feeling, with some background images (giant cornstalks ‘” yes, giant corn) looking better than others. On the other hand, this title definitely has a very whimsical, original atmosphere about it, with the occasional fun details thrown in among the bizarre “enemies” and obstacles. Perhaps the highlight is how the game uses puns and other wordplay-based jokes, such as the literal cherry bombs, or the fact that using the Apple-flavored jellybeans turns Blobert into a Jack, a reference to the breakfast cereal Apple Jacks. The ending screen is also memorable, providing appropriate closure in evocative fashion. There are also the few visual jokes like the way the Boy runs off a ledge but runs in place for a few moments before falling, much like an old-fashioned cartoon.

Sound
A Boy and his Blob
The music is meager and unambitious. There are only four tracks in the entire game, including the title music and the ending screen tune. Thus, the bulk of the quest is occupied by the endless repetition of one piece for Earth and another for Blobolonia. These melodies are not terrible, but neither are they among the NES’s Greatest Hits. The sound effects are okay; in fact, the Boy’s whistle is pretty darn good. But, again, they are lacking, as there are only a few different sounds throughout the entire gameplay. While the Blob occasionally makes silly sounds for certain transformations, and the cherry bombs burst when they hit the ground, there are no effects for entering water, jumping on the trampoline, etc.

Originality

Despite the technical shortcomings of its audiovisual presentation, A Boy and His Blob is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive titles in the NES library. Its creativity and utter uniqueness lends it a sort of quality that has led it to becoming one of the most fondly remembered and beloved cartridges ever released in 8 bits. For many retro gamers, Boy And Blob holds a distinct sway in nostalgic sentimentality.

Yet, when examined on an objective, holistic basis, this is not a game without its flaws. A Boy and His Blob can be daunting, confusing, and just plain hard; for every fun, rewarding puzzle solved, there is a place of frustrating mystery. For every moment of enjoyable visuals, like the interplanetary rocket ride, there is another of odd vagueness, like the bouncing white squares. The quest is potentially rewarding, but lacks much replay value. It seems that A Boy and His Blob is a video game of dichotomy, where its “meh” gameplay aspects are matched by whimsy and originality. In all honesty, if it were not cleverly written or imaginatively drawn, this might be a downright dreadful title. Its refreshing nature saves it, though mileage will vary from player to player. There is a little wonder still left in Boy And Blob, tucked away within its middle-of-the-road rating of two and a half stars out of five.

Military Madness

Military Madness

Military Madness sounds like it could be the name for all the wars happening in the past 12 years, but it is actually the name of a turn-based strategy game released for the Turbografx-16 by Hudson Soft in 1989. You play on the moon in 2089 on a hex map controlling the Allied-Union forces against the Axis-Xenon forces. Now unlike many games like this you do not build units, but you can capture enemy units being built in factories. The game was eventually remade for the PlayStation and a 3D remake was made for WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.

Black Belt

Black Belt a.k.a. Hokuto No Ken (1986)
By: Sega Genre: Fighting Players: Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega Master System First Day Score: 209,100
Also Available For: Nothing Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Black_Belt
Apparently inspired by Irem’s Kung Fu Master, even to the point of borrowing its ‘plot’, Sega’s game introduces the martial arts master, Riki, whose girlfriend has been kidnapped by a rival gang. Blinded by love to the obvious dangers ahead, Riki immediately sets out to rescue her by kicking and punching his way across six scrolling stages of enemy goons. His repertoire of moves is restricted to a punch or kick, both of which can be performed while standing or squatting, and he can also unleash a flying kick. Each stage features just one type of standard enemy who are each felled (and then explode) by one of Riki’s strikes. There are also one or more mid-bosses, who are usually armed, before the main end-of-stage battle against a much stronger foe.Back in the late 80’s, my good friend Luke and I were both proud owners of Sega’s Master System.

Black_Belt

We were both still at school though, so we couldn’t afford new games very often, but we frequently ogled the games we wanted in the various magazines of the day, and on both of our lists was this exciting-sounding game by Sega. It’s actually one of the first games by Yuki Naka who would later go on to head Sonic Team and was released earlier in the same year in Japan as a game based on the popular manga and anime series, Fist of the North Star. Rather than using this opportunity to introduce it to the rest of us though, its release in other territories saw a change in theme to the generic karate game we have before us. This was all unknown to Luke and I at the time of course, and despite the atrocious cover art (see here) it’s a game I always found very enticing.

Black_Belt

Enemy strikes deplete Riki’s health-bar but this can be replenished by performing a high-jump (jump while squatting) to grab the icons that occasionally float along the top of the screen. As well as several types of food to refill your energy, there’s also a temporary shield, but they’re tricky to grab without taking any damage as the buffoons running backwards and forwards along the single-plane landscapes are infinite and quite quick too. They’re also pretty small, as is Riki himself. The level of detail isn’t too impressive on most sprites either but the mid and end-of-stage bosses are quite varied and a bit more detailed too. Confrontations with the latter sees the view zoom in a little, and therefore the level of detail increase a little, as the game (briefly) switches to a one-on-one brawler complete with unique backgrounds.

Black_Belt

Each of the stages also has its own backdrop and tune, of course, but these are little better than average which sums up the whole game really. It would probably have proved a reasonably entertaining game to play every now and then when it came out but it’s not aged too well. There’s no incentive to play for points since the enemies are never-ending. There is a time limit, admittedly, but it’s not a very strict one which is probably because the stages aren’t very long – if you were forced to rush through them, each would probably last a couple of minutes at most, not including the boss fights which are, incidentally, the only times you’ll need to use more than one brain cell! Playing through the rest of the game, though, is a bit of a chore and there’s a few scrolling fightings games on the MS which are much more enjoyable. Sometimes these games I’ve been meaning to play for so many years are worth the wait. Sadly, Black Belt isn’t one of them.

RKS Score: 5/10

Bravoman

Bravoman

How to describe Bravoman, it is a platform slash beat em up game that is a parody of Japanese Tokusatsu and video games. So just think, if we sometimes laugh at crazy Japanese video games, this game, developed by Now Production and published my Namco, laughs at those types of games which will make us laugh at this game.

So the plot, well using my comic book knowledge it is like a strange version of Hal Jordan and Green Lantern. A normal man who works at an insurance company encounters and alien named Alpha Man who gives him a metal rod, a fork and a coin, kind of sounds like a Macgyver setup, and this allows him to turn into Bravoman. His mission is to stop the evil Dr. Bomb who gives him a… you thought I was going to say bomb didn’t you. Dr. Bomb has an “end the world weapon”, whatever that means, that will, er, end the world.

So that is the setup, check out the video for a full review.

Power Blade

Power Blade

Power Blade

Format- NES

Genre- Side scrolling action game

Pretty much forgotten, Power Blade is actually a surprisingly assured action game. It’s a little too difficult for my tastes, but for those who love a challenge this is worth investigating.

I realise that the above sounds a bit like a conclusion, but there’s a few things else I still want to note about Power Blade.

First, is that it has dated in ways that have nothing to do with the actual game itself. The cartridge and box art, for example, looks so cheap and tacky you couldn’t blame someone for simply overlooking or choosing not to play the game.

Nova (the hero of the game) for example, looks ridiculously ‘macho.’ With his John McClane-esque vest he looks horribly out of place in todays gaming world. For Nova’s dignity, perhaps it’s best if he remains forgotten in the mists of the time.

Power Blade

Especially considering the lawsuits he might have on his hands from Gameloft.

The game itself though, is of the solid blade hurling action variety, with a decent range of enemies and obstacles to avoid/destroy. You can choose any of the levels from the main hub in any order you wish, except for the final boss’ lair. I’ve not made it that far though, admittedly.

Some of the enemies however, such as faces that are bolted onto walls, don’t quite fit into the future-setting of the game. They feel like something more out of Castlevania or Megaman. Odd.

The graphics are cutscenes are pretty damn impressive for the NES, and are fortunate enough to hold a certain retro-charm about them. I can certainly see why Power Blade has a little cult audience all of its own.

Darkman

Darkman

Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Darkman

In 1991, Ocean (aka Konami) developed an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System video game, Darkman, based on the comic-book film released in 1990 starring Liam Neeson in what has become something of a cult role.

Gameplay

This is a two-dimensional platformer, with the standard controls of A to jump and B to attack (in this case, with a short-range alternating punch and kick). There is no crouch for the down button on the directional pad nor any secondary effect for the up button. Having no projectile weapon either, the player (including a second if desired, in turn-taking fashion) controls the protagonist Darkman character through many levels of differing scrolling orientations and types altogether in an attempt to satisfy a loose storyline (the opening menu actually has a separate option to read the story) involving a scientist’s experiment gone wrong and his resulting attempt at seeking vengeance on some goons.

Darkman

Darkman the NES game has both good and bad elements to it. In summary, some good aspects: Innovative stages involving photography and differing gameplay goals, differing characterizations based on Darkman’s ability to take on the appearance (and thus, apparently, the other physical traits) of certain foes later met as bosses, and an overall smooth, pleasing appearance. The bad components: Not-quite-polished physics resulting in overly slippery momentum and odd hit detection (battle is somewhat arbitrary in contact), rather difficult precision-jumping sequences throughout, and just an overall license-grade performance.

Graphics

Darkman

In its defense, Darkman does not look too bad. The visuals are colorful, varied, and detailed, with sprawling backgrounds highlighted by the interactive foreground. The cliche Chinatown is a delight, and the sprite animations are slick, along with action bits like the steerable metal mine-cart rails thingies.

Sound

Darkman

The music is slightly annoying, though it does get better, and the effects are standard fare for platform play, with the “bloops” and “swishes” of jumping, sliding, and the occasional “biff” for punches and kicks.

Originality

This video game certainly does contain some creative, innovative ingredients, such as the trio of levels the player must endure as each of a series of different masked-on characters, or the PokemonSnap-like photo portions. These interesting additions, however, do not make up for the general lack of spectacular development consistently present. The enemies are either simplistic and easy or nightmarishly difficult, and the variance in levels seems to give the idea that the creators preferred quantity over quality in their gameplay elements. Even considering its timeframe, it looks a little worse in context; by 1991, the NES was entering the latter years of its life cycle, and many of the issues in Darkman should have been able to have been conquered in its making. Overall, it turns out as an average effort; at least that makes it better than many other licensed games, and good enough for two and a half stars out of five.

The Jetsons

The Jetsons

The Jetsons

This week we take a look at a very fun title called The Jetsons Cogswell’s Caper! for the NES. Other than cartoon related games by Capcom, there were other cartoon style games that were actually good from other publishers. You have the Flinstones and Jetsons series for example. This game in particular is quite fun and hilarious at times. George’s way to take a hit says it all just experience it for yourself. Anyways, the game has a lot to offer and it’s a title you shouldn’t ignore!
The Jetsons
The music is decent for this game. It definitely doesn’t make you feel like you are in the future but there is nothing more amazing like an 8-bit soundtrack especially if it’s upbeat and fun. The sound effects are also pretty decent as well. There is no voice acting although it’s possible in the NES but you do have some classic sounds. The music would be above average and some of the tunes actually mimic the cartoon’s music.

The Jetsons

The graphics are pretty kewl. This game definitely doesn’t look like it has recycle graphics from other games. The levels are very large and interesting. They definitely look what they are supposed to look like. The robots, bosses, and even items are quite delicious looking! Putting that aside, it’s a well polished looking game.

The Jetsons

Just like over 80 percent of the NES games from that era this was a platformer. The game is the usual going left to right or right to left. There is a lot of jumping, throwing, and more jumping in it. But it’s quite fun! I only wish George had a gun or something!

The Jetsons

The game is your average platformer with a futuristic spin and it’s definitely a game to come back to. It’s one of those games you can beat under an hour and have lots of fun with it. NES was and still is the master of such replay value. Play it till your satisfaction is achieved!

In the end, the game is quite fun and one that should be in your collection. It is quite pricey but I’ll be sure to pick it up if I ever see it. Other than that, it should be a great hour or so of fun and one you can come back to whenever you have a Jetson urge. There is not much to say except that there is no wrong way to see this game. It’s not the greatest but it goes beyond average on every category.

Super Air Zonk

super air zonk

How Japanese gaming is this, you have a hero that belts out songs on his microphone, hurls sushi at enemies and morphs into all kinds of things in a shooting game. Well that is what you get with Super Air Zonk the follow up to Air Zonk which is a spin-off from the Bonk’s Adventure series. You got all that? Super Air Zonk was released in 1993 for the TG-16 by Hudson Soft. Like in Air Zonk you face a multitude of enemies and your overall arch nemesis, SandroVitch. You can power Zonk up with the meat item to eventually turn him into Ultra Zonk and Tyrano Zonk. In addition, after rescuing your friends from capture you can morph with them and combine your powers.

super air zonk

Assault City

assault-city-sega

Format- Master System

Genre- Lightgun shooter

You may remember my dismissal of Knife Edge on N64 as a pointless exercise without having an actual light-gun to play it with. Well, Assault City has a gun, but it’s still not much cop. But what do you expect when you play it with Sega’s rather naff Light Phaser?

The game starts with an odd shooting range thing, with both human and robot faces popping up to fire at. You’re not supposed to shoot the humans apparently – it took me a little while to realise this. No instructions you see. You’re just supposed to already know the robots are your enemies. That’s robo-racism if I ever saw it.

assault-city-sega

The weird faces the humans pull when you blast them with lead are amusing though. (the robot’s death animations are boring in comparison). It’s almost like the designers wanted you to shoot the wrong targets…

You’re then given a ranking for how well you did (I performed badly, predictably), and whisked into the first stage proper. Things get ugly quickly.

Enemies fly around in the air, and a robot (which the game has taught me is certainly an enemy) walks along the bottom. All of them are rather uninspired and blandly designed. I shoot away at them, and their death explosions are as equally dour.

assault-city-sega

Eventually I die, despite not really knowing when I took a hit. Enemies are so badly designed it’s not clear when they’re shooting at you.

I’m treated with a cartoon panel style rendering of my death (which is nice), but it doesn’t paticularly inspire me to attempt to progress any further.

Light-gun games don’t usually age that badly. They have a simple charm that is purely down to the way they are played – with a chunky plastic gun.

assault-city-sega

Assault City definitely does suffer from the weedy Light Phaser you have to play it with, but it has other, deeper, problems. It’s designed without any real style, and it also lacks any solidity of heft in its gunplay. These are two areas which really work against it.

In the end, it’s a game where you shoot at things on a screen, and Assault City does a half-decent job. But it had to doa lot better than half-decent job if it wanted to be remembered with any fondness.

Micro Machines

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Micro Machines (1991)
By: Code Masters Genre: Overhead Racing Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis
Also Available For: Master System, Game Gear, SNES, NES, Game Boy, CDi, PC, Amiga

People will always have differing opinions of things. Whether it’s games, films, music or anything else you can think of; there will always be at least one person that worships something and another who hates it with just as much passion. However, generally speaking, good things are regarded as good by the majority and likewise bad things remain bad. This is as true of video games as anything else but there’s bound to be a few people that dislike well-regarded games and that includes me – it was the whole reason I created the ‘Overrated!’ feature here at Red Parsley of course. I’ve only covered four games so far though, which suggests it isn’t something that happens too often, but if there was one game I always had at the back of my mind to add to the feature, it would be this one. I don’t think there’s any game so universally lauded that I dislike, but I caught a lot of flak for its omission from my recent Top Five so I figured it was as good a time as any to address the issue!

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Micro Machines themselves – the little toys – are pretty cool. I’ve even collected a few such as the range they released based on the awesome Babylon 5, and when the game was released it was met with universal acclaim from reviewers and players alike. I’ve always been keen on games of this type so I sought it out with the utmost haste. Being equally keen on my splendid MegaDrive, it was this version I plumped for and first impressions of the game were… superb! The presentation is outstanding with nice cartoony intro and options screens which give you the choice between single or multi-player games. The latter offers the choice of ‘Single Race’ or ‘Tournament’ for two players while the former allows you to choose between ‘Head to Head’ or ‘Challenge’ games, and it is the first of these that I prefer by some way which is basically the two-player mode but against a CPU-controlled opponent.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Before starting you first need to choose your own character as well as your opponent’s from a selection of eleven cartoony human oafs whose skill level supposedly increases gradually from one to the next. You’ll then race each other in your various miniature vehicles over a series of courses based on household locales. The first, for example, sees you racing powerboats around a bubbly bath tub! Other vehicles include Sports Cars, Formula One Cars, Tanks, Turbo Wheels (buggies), Warriors (hot rods), 4×4’s, and Choppers, and they are raced around the house on things like desk tops, breakfast tables, snooker tables, and even around the workshop and garden. All race locations feature items and obstacles appropriate to their setting which most of the time make themselves unwelcome. In the two-player Single Race mode you can choose a vehicle which is then raced over its ‘home’ course, but in all other play modes the courses are arranged in order and you have to win one to see the next.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Unfortunately, this is where the problems start, at least as far as I’m concerned. The single player Challenge mode features a series of twenty four races which includes several courses based on each house location with corresponding vehicle type used. Races are against three CPU vehicles with very simple rules – complete the required number of laps and finish in the highest position possible. If you finish in the top two, you can move on to the next race. If not, you’ll lose a life. All the other play modes feature one-on-one races, whether that’s human vs the computer or another human. On the left side of the screen are eight coloured circles – four red, four blue. The object is to turn all the circles your own colour which is done by getting far enough ahead of your rival that they drop off the screen. Each time you manage this, a circle is filled in your favour. This can make races very short or immense endurance contests depending on the skill and luck of the participants, with the latter playing a notably more prominent role than the former in my experience.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, in all head-to-head play modes, by their very nature you’re frequently racing high up the screen with little warning or view of upcoming corners and obstacles. Secondly, the design of the courses, while original and very appealing, also leaves masses of obstacles all over the place which not only slow you down if you hit them, but are also very easy to get stuck behind. On top of that, many of the courses take place on a table or something similar which means slipping over the edge and crashing to your doom is also commonplace. I can’t really say the courses gradually increase in complexity and difficulty as you might expect, either – the course that makes me most angry is only the third, and the one after it is a piece of cake! As annoying as all this stuff can be, it’s all manageable in slower vehicles like the 4×4’s or Tanks, but when you have to zoom around courses in fast, skiddy vehicles like the Sports or Formula One cars, mistakes come often which soon proves immensely frustrating.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

It might seem like a game that’s hard to get pissed at judging by the screenshots though. As mentioned, the presentation is fantastic, and the audio is great too, with plenty of catchy tunes and various noises. Graphically, there are no flashy special effects or anything here and it’s easy to see why the game looks more or less the same across a variety of systems, but it’s still very pleasing on the eyes nonetheless. It’s certainly a mighty colourful game and the appropriately tiny vehicles all look nice enough as they career through the smoothly-scrolling courses, but the varied backgrounds and the great attention to detail is where the work has really been done. Most of them show great creativity and are filled with a conveniently-arranged mess befitting their setting. For example, the breakfast table course is marked out by Cheerios (or something similar) and has various foodstuffs dotted around like waffles and fruit. On-course obstructions are caused by spillages such as baked beans, and there’s even a cereal-box jump!

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Most of the other courses are just as detailed and imaginative, and discovering their various sights and features is highly enjoyable the first few times you race them. However, as amusing and comedic as the game may be, the object is still surely to make progress and win races while having fun, not instead of? Success comes from driving round the more difficult courses time and time again until you can do so blindfolded; until you can do so without making even the tiniest mistake. Doing so is immensely tense/exciting during the race and immensely satisfying afterwards, but this is likely to happen far less than the alternative which I at least found incredibly frustrating and rage-inducing: winning, winning, doing well, BANG! … stuck behind trackside object, near-instant last place… racing, racing, doing well again, regain the lead, skid a teeny bit too far on a corner, fall off the table, near-instant last place, racing, cross the finish line in last place, lost a life… GrrrrrRRRRRR!!!!

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Okay, I know I’m probably going to take a right kicking from the legions of Micro Machines fans who loved and still love this game and its sequels; I know its faults that annoy me so are mainly limited to certain courses on which the faster vehicles are used, and even then can be found in many other overhead racers (though not nearly so prominently, I submit), but I can scarcely recall any gaming experience that makes me as angry as this one is capable of doing – something which is much more pronounced in the Challenge mode in which you have to manage to go without making a mistake for much longer than the short bursts of skill/luck required in the other modes. Control of the vehicles is flawless though, admittedly, and with two players, both of you are as disadvantaged as each other I suppose (unless one has had a lot more practise!) but winning is still often more down to luck than skill.

Micro Machines - sega genesis
Based on my prior experiences with this game I was preparing to give is cursory play to refresh my mind, then duly unleash the diatribe it deserves and give it a very low score, but I suppose I have to begrudgingly admit that I enjoyed Micro Machines much more this time. It’s still reallyannoying though, and frequently so – some times I’ll play it and do extremely well, even having enormous fun in the process, then catch myself thinking “this game is great, I was wrong, I’ll give a glowing review!”, but then my next session with it makes me angrier than ten Incredible Hulks and I end up smashing stuff up. The ideas behind the game are amazingly great and there’s many laughs to be had here, but in the end, this is a great example of a game that can be effing awesome and incredibly annoying, often within seconds of each other! Does that make it terrible game? No, I guess not, but it’s not a great one either in my opinion, sorry.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m08miUSCHI[/youtube]

RKS Score: 6/10

 

Bigfoot

Bigfoot

Bigfoot was a popular monster truck. Thanks to the efforts of developer Beam Software and publisher Acclaim, that famous vehicle in all its car-crushing oversized-tires glory was also a video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1990.

Bigfoot

During the overhead one-on-one racing portions, does the A button activate nitro, or is it B? Do you have to hold the Up button on the directional pad to move forward, or repeatedly tap it? If you read the instruction booklet for Bigfoot, the answer is never clear. If you actually try to play the game itself, the answer may never be clear at all.

When the basic mechanics for controlling the protagonist in your video game are unclear, whether in the instructions or in the on-screen experience, you have a serious problem. This is only the beginning of Bigfoot’s woes, as it ends up as barely a “game” at all, but more of a digital experience marred with critical issues.

Bigfoot

Supposedly, the plotline (yes, those roaring engines really need an expansive plot for motivation) involves Bigfoot and his rival, The Growler, in a race across the United States of America. At certain stops, they will partake in a top-down race to try to reach a finish line first, whereas other challenges will take on a side view in the form of a drag race, tractor pull, hill climb, or similar straight-line challenges. After each event, the player can spend winnings on vehicle upgrades. When the player loses an event, the game is over. Well, sometimes. Other times, the game just keeps going anyway.

Bigfoot

The overhead races have an arbitrary, pointless feel to them. No vehicle can ever pass the boundaries of the screen; this means that, no matter how good you are, you can never be a full screen ahead of the other vehicle in competition. In fact, being ahead is an explicit disadvantage, since it makes it difficult or even impossible to be able to contend with oncoming obstacles like mud slicks or sudden forests (yes, sudden forests). This is poor game design. And by “poor,” we can accurately say “quantifiably terrible.” The designers failed to pay even basic attention to any detail, and had zero player interest in mind. This was a money grab: A quick little chop job of a game to try and, apparently, capitalize on the famed Bigfoot monster truck racer, or at least sell a few copies based on child impressions on seeing a big ol’ monster truck on the box.

Bigfoot

The side-view races are, arguably, even worse. How do you make Bigfoot move forward? By alternatedly mashing Left and Right on the directional pad, then shifting gears by pressing A, but not doing either of these too much or too little, because it will ruin the engine and bring the suddenly-quite-weak truck to a halt. It is like the developers noticed the popularity and positive reputation of Excitebike, which has an engine-overheating mechanic, and said, “Let’s do that, but even more cumbersome and atrocious.”

Do the upgrade purchases offer any benefit? Maybe; but, even if they did, the opponent gets to purchase upgrades too, even after losing efforts, thus perhaps making any upgrades a moot point. Not only is the computer (or human, if two players actually want to torture themselves simultaneously) opponent upgrading alongside the human player, but the human player actually has to sit there and watch the A.I. make each purchasing decision.

Bigfoot

The game has decent graphics, admittedly, but poor sound quality. Players should be able to tell that the trucks are supposed to be trucks, and there is scenery, and there are big brown swaths of mud and dirt. Most of the gameplay lacks background music; but who needs tunes, when you have the roar of engines? Even the little transitional tracks from scene to scene are a bit beepy-bloopy, reminiscent of Beam Software’s other efforts, such as Fisher-Price Perfect Fit and Family Feud. The sound effects themselves are just bad. The buzz saw weapon (yeah, the overhead races have weapons, whatever) sounds annnoying and not intimidating, while other noises just sound random and silly.

Is there another game quite like Bigfoot? No, not really. But should it be praised for its originality and creativity? No, not really. You can kick a piece of cow poop against the side of a barn for the first time, but nobody should throw you a parade. Bigfoot on NES handles like a one-wheeled hot dog cart and is bad enough to cast a dark, profound shadow against the very idea of video gamesas a whole.

Overall Rating: 1/5 Stars.