Hydra

Atari-lynx_Hydra

Format- Atari Lynx

Genre- Racing style shooter thing

Another Lynx game that looks better than it plays. This is getting tiresome. I didn’t have high hopes for Hydra admittedly, but still.

Atari-lynx_Hydra

The game doesn’t start well. The cartridge has a very boring label, and the main menu screen has a ditty in the background that seems to be trying to make your head explode by reaching the highest pitch possible. Listen to it and you’ll know what I mean.

Getting into the actual game, you have three maps to choose from – easy, medium and hard. I choose easy, and i’m greeted by a screen of a boat on a river.

Atari-lynx_Hydra

The boat is fuelled, i’m ready to go, I press A to accelerate, and…nothing. B? Nothing. Up? Nothing. Hmmm.

Finally, I choose down and the boat judders into life. Down. You press down on the d-pad to accelerate. Up is slow down. Genius.

Atari-lynx_Hydra

I can kind of get what the developer was trying to do – up to tip the boat back to slow down – but in reality it doesn’t really work, especially with a d-pad as rubbishy as the one the Lynx possesses. It’s very difficult to accelerate and have a decent level of control at the same time.

The driving bit of the game itself is simple though, or so it seems. You clip along the river at a decent pace, shooting bad guys and collecting weird sparkly orbs. Suddenly, you find yourself running out of gas. Where are the gas pick ups?

Atari-lynx_Hydra

There are some items floating above the river, but I had no idea how to get them. Inevitably, it’s soon game over. You can take hits from enemies and restart where you died, but if you get an empty fuel tank, it’s all over for you.

So I end up looking through the instruction manual – something I loathe to do – and find out jump is the option 2 button. The one at the bottom right of the system.

Although you can just about reach it, it makes an awkward control system even more of a fudge. And it’s not a slab of sweet fudge either, but a bitter, out of date rotting mess of fudge. In such an action orientated title such as this, these muddled controls are near unforgivable.

So eventually I get a grasp of the controls (as well as I can), and the game improves a little. It does look very nice indeed, with 3D caverns and reasonably detailed enemies.

But in the end, it’s just all just works to cover up for the over complicated controls. If only the developers had worked as hard on making the game suited to the Lynx’s control scheme as much as they had on the portable’s graphical capabilities, Hydra could have been a winner.

Hard Driving

Hard Driving

With a plethora of terrible games out there, I thought the decision would be quite easy. Little did I realise, I found myself struggling to come up with one bad game that truly grated my retro gaming nerves. I could write about how terrible ET was for the Atari 2600, but I thought that everyone already knew that. Then, a light bulb went off in my head ! Why not write about a game that promised so much and delivered so little – Hard Drivin’ on the C64. Get your vomit bag out and read on……

Hard Driving - Gameplay Screenshot

 

Format: Commodore 64
Year: 1989
Publisher: Tengen
Developer: Domark

Don’t be fooled by the “C+VG HIT” on the cover of this game. This game was more of a miss than a hit. Originally released in the arcades in 1988 by Atari Games, Hard Drivin’ was a revolutionary coin-op. It was touted as the world’s first authentic driving simulation. The game featured state-of-the-art polygon graphics and realistic force feedback controls, all designed to offer gamers a sense of what it might be like to sit behind the wheel of a high-performance car. So how do you convert this sense of driving, to an 8-bit system and still make it playable ?

Hard Driving - Gameplay Screenshot

Well, in hindsight, you can’t. This conversion was an absolute catastrophe on the trusty C64. It featured hideous monochrome graphics, and the control system was a joke – any slight pressure on the joystick, and your car would instantly veer out of control.

The other frustrating aspect of the game was the sense of speed, or lack thereof. Driving at 140mph felt like my grandmother could walk faster with her walking frame. Perhaps the speedometer was measuring speed in hours-per-mile.

Hard Driving - Gameplay Screenshot

Did I mention the graphics ! It is absolutely laughable when seeing oncoming traffic – it looks like a flying double bed coming at you at a snail’s pace. Embarrassing as this game is, it was never released as a standalone game, nor at full price ! Perhaps the publisher knew it was a pile of stinking poo.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYwgMy3ckkw[/youtube]

In a nutshell, this C64 conversion offered the gamer to drive a painfully slow and uncontrollable vehicle around a bland and ugly looking world. This title easily wins the award for the worst C64 arcade racer ever, period !

GraphicsAs close to hideous as possible. Prepare your visual cortex for an ugly onslaught

9%

SoundYour ears will be begging you to stuff plugs in them

9%

PlayabilityNo sensation of speed, bland and utter ugly track design. You will stop playing it after a few seconds

1%

LastabilityYou will turn off this game faster than you can say “This is crap!”

0%

OverallHard Drivin’ on the C64 wins the turd ribbon for being exactly that, a stinking turd

4%

Tengen Tetris

NES_Tengen_Box_Front

Tengen Tetris

Yes it’s finally back, another retro game of the week entry! Yay…horray….OK..seriously, this week we are going to look at a wonderful game full of magic and adventure(aren’t most games full of that and then some?) And of course tell you why you should check it out. After Gimmick! you had to think of more titles that made the NES a classic and which one made you think of the NES the most? Probably a game that wasn’t around for a while, Tengen Tetris. This game is very unique in a couple of ways. This version of Tetris is actually a lot better than the official Nintendo release. The game was only released for a short time so there are fewer copies than the millions of official Tetris copies out there. Did I mention it’s two players? YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

tengen tetris

If you want to play a good Tetris game for your old 8 bit friend then Tengen Tetris FTW! So there is not much to say….there are so many other Tetris games for multiple platforms, it’s the phenomenom that will never die but as far as the NES, This is a winner.

Check out this episode of Play Value as it talks about the history of Tetris!

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OzieuCobUg[/youtube]

Alien Syndrome

alien_syndrome.cover.front-nes

Alien Syndrome

There will always be a few common themes for video game titles. Medieval fantasy role-playing games, secret agent first-person shooters, cartoony platformers are among the most popular. Another brand of home console fun is the kill all the aliens action game. Many titles for the Nintendo Entertainment System tried to capitalize on this key idea, including Star Tropics and Contra. Another contestant in this field was Alien Syndrome, a top-down gunner for one or two players.

In Alien Syndrome, space marines must travel through expansive levels as they seek different guns and checkpoints. They have a limited amount of time before the ship explodes, and every area also has a big, scary-lookin’ boss. Each foreboding arena features a different color scheme, music, general appearance, alien species, and layout.

alien-syndrome-nes-gameplay-screenshot

Graphics

For the most part, this was a pretty slick-looking game for the ol’ NES. With vibrantly designed aliens, convincing sci-fi settings, and bosses reminiscent of Blaster Master-type baddies, Alien Syndrome was certainly no slouch. One weakness, though, was its overly ambitious sprite usage; consider some bosses used multiple offspring or projectile attacks, the experience did suffer from occasional blinking and frame-rate problems.

alien-syndrome-nes-gameplay-screenshot

Sound

The music was atmospheric and effective, albeit a tad minimalist as well. The weaponry was perhaps the best use of sound, especially the pitiful pop noise of your first gun. The bosses had standard fare in their attacks, and overall, the tracks were average.

Innovation

Playing like a Gauntlet dungeon writ large in a science-fiction setting, Alien Syndrome was not a truly original idea, but definitely worked as an innovator to make it an alien-blasting good time. Although the weapons were typical and predictable (laser, flamethrower, anyone?), the bosses were imaginative and gruesome.

alien-syndrome-nes-gameplay-screenshot

Replay Value

Alien Syndrome is a quirky title that most gamers would hate but a few would love. Its time-limit feature seemed forced and unnecessary, serving only to heighten anxiety. Perhaps that served to intentionally heighten the tension, but considering that the aliens themselves were difficult enough to deal with, one can only wonder how much more fulfilling of an experience would this have been without the timer. Especially with later levels, the time constraint forced an emphasis on lay-out memorization and other unintuitive tactics, removing the improvisational, seat-of-your-pants element of an otherwise bug-blasting good time. For that glaring error in concept development, and the lack of any truly noteworthy features, Alien Syndrome earns two stars out of five, case closed.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6porckR305Q[/youtube]

Eric Bailey is a retro gamer on a crazy quest to write a quality review for every single American-released NES video game over at NintendoLegend.com.