Randy breaks down the PC game, This War of Mine.
J.A. reviews the FMV game, Late Shift
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I just had to do this because this game is so awesome. So awesome it deserves a pick of the week. After seeing it for a total of three times at my flea market trip last Sunday, I decided to give it a shot and wow what an amazing game this is.
For a side scroller the graphics are superb and the sound just outstanding, just try playing the game with the stereo plugged in and you will have one of the most amazing soundtracks in video game history! I’m not kidding! The gameplay is simple, you have Shaq doing the Shaqattack! doh! and much much more!
Once you pick this game up, you can’t put it down!
btw….this is all a sarcastic entry….this game is pure shit but since no one in the entire world will pick it as a game of anything, I decided to be a nice guy like usual and do it myself. Screw this game! UP THE A-HOLE!
I barely remember this one but it was in a way the first PC game I ever played and that is why I am putting it here. Of course today there are countless chess games for the PC but this one was my first and I still remember how entertaining it was to watch the battles play out in front of your screen
What is Battle Chess
Battle Chess is obviously a chess game developed and released way back in 1988. The cool thing about it was that all the pawns where animated and you could see them killing each other in interesting and funny ways. When I was playing it I was still a kid so I didn’t know what I was doing but I was trying desperately to discover all the killing animations that were available.
Why it’s Great
Its a nostalgia thing I guess but you can’t deny that it’s cool to watch the pieces come to life to kill each other (maybe I have low entertainment standards)
Where you Can Get it
You can find the special edition at Gog.com, the special edition includes the original Battle Chess, Battle Chess 2: Chinese Chess and Battle Chess 4000, if you are interested you can buy it HERE
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By: Core Design / Gremlin Genre: Run ‘n’ Gun Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Atari ST First Day Score: 9,240
Also Available For: Amiga, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Whether you love or hate Rick Dangerous, there´s no question that it was a memorable game. Anyone wanting more of the same would have to wait for its sequel which would arrive a year later, but released the same year as Rick’s first adventure was this game. It’s similar in looks and gameplay so it comes as so surprise to find that the same team was responsible for both games, but the setting has changed. This latter effort takes place ten thousand years in the future rather than the recent past, and it appears to be an anime-influenced future ‘cyber world’ called Thraxx where the Undercity is now ruled by the evil Havoc who has shattered the Fireblade and filled the city with his minions.
It’s down to you to flush the Undercity of this filth and simultaneously find the sixteen pieces of the Fireblade, the source of the Bladeknight’s power, and rebuild it to ensure lasting peace. You do this as Hiro, the last of the Bladeknights. He has as much stealth and cunning as you can muster as well as a programmable cyber-arm. Only when the Fireblade has been reassembled will you be able to take on Havoc and help Hiro gain revenge for the death of his people. You’ll start this flick-screen adventure above ground but after only a few screens you’ll enter the underground depths of Undercity, a vast, sprawling labyrinth of rooms, tunnels, and passageways. A labyrinth it is too as only sections you’re in or have previously been in will appear – all other sections are hidden until you enter them.
This of course means there’s lots of secrets and sneakily-concealed areas which often require some exploration or experimentation to find. Hidden or not though, all areas of Undercity are patrolled by the hideous servants of Havoc, contact with whom will deplete Hiro’s energy meter. To begin with he can only use his fists or feet against them but there are six power-up weapons available as he makes his way through the game which are mostly sword or projectile-type weapons. They will all have differing ranges and some projectile weapons also have limited ammo. The effect of some of them (including Hiro’s default attacks) is also slightly different depending on your use of the charge bar. More ammo can be collected of course, and other things to look out for include speed-ups, a temporary shield, flasks and orbs which award you with bonus points, and increases to your power-meter.
It’s also worth looking out for Fireblade fragments, of course, and successful recovery of all sixteen pieces bestows a sizable bonus upon Hiro as well as the option of using the Fireblade as a seventh weapon power-up. It will be a while before that becomes possible though as Switchblade is a pretty big game. It consists of five levels but, although ending with a boss fight, each level continues on from the last so there’s no real break between them. This extends to the look of them. The graphical style is similar to the distinctive look of Rick Dangerous before it – everything is neat and nicely drawn with small, squat little sprites, and I can’t imagine it really pushes the 16-bit CPU of the ST very hard – but unlike Core’s previous game, there’s almost no variety between the levels, and unfortunately that’s as far as both graphics and gameplay are concerned too.
The grey bricks, crates, girders and ladders that you’ll first see upon entering Undercity are still prevalent an hour later as you approach the climax of the game. This was very disappointing to find as even the much shorter Rick Dangerous has some variety between its levels, graphically. One improvement made here is the audio – the sound effects are pretty anonymous but there is at least in-game music courtesy of Ben Daglish, and it’s great! Playing the game will also feel familiar if you’ve played Rick’s game. There’s less trial-and-error frustration involved here, at least with regards to completely hidden traps and the like, but exploring the levels is done in pretty much the same way – jumping around multi-tiered sections and nipping up and down ladders. Hiro also moves in a similar way to Rick but since he has an energy meter rather than one-hit deaths, it’s a little easier too.
Overall though, I’m not sure if Switchblade represents a forward or backwards step. Rick Dangerous got a mixed response due to its immensely unfair but addictive gameplay while Switchblade was apparently unanimously praised, but in my opinion the latter doesn’t possess either of the former’s most notable qualities – it’s fairer but less addictive since the whole game is pretty much the same as the first five minutes. I know it suits the story to have the whole city looking pretty much the same, but it doesn’t do much for the player’s desire to see it all. This, combined with a very annoying ‘hit mechanic’, which sees Hiro shunted backwards every time he takes damage, means I have less compulsion to continue playing this than I do Rick Dangerous. It’s far from a terrible game, and uncovering all the hidden areas provides some motivation to play it, but it could’ve been so much better with a bit of variety.
RKS Score: 6/10
Perhaps it is the Japanese equivalent to the Ham-burglar.
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.
“Forgotten Classics” is a celebration of obscure PC games that weren’t released to widespread fanfare – or simply fell of the radar of gamers at the time of their release – and deserve a second look. In this installment: Wonderland, an adventure game developed by the British game developer Magnetic Scrolls and published by Virgin Games in 1990.
Wonderland was a game set in the Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland mythos. You played Alice as she made her way through the bizarre Wonderland landscape, solving puzzles and enduring plenty of puns. However, the plot of the game did not follow that of the book, although familiar characters, such as the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Duchess, and the Red Queen all appeared to delight the player (or confound them). However, only the characters from Alice in Wonderland appeared; there were no characters or scenes from the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass (which meant no Tweedledum and Tweedledee!). Even so, there were still around 110 locations to explore in all their surreal glory.
Magnetic Scrolls developed an interesting game engine called “Magnetic Windows” which they used for Wonderland. Rather than one game screen, Magnetic Windows permitted several game screens to be opened at once (much like Microsoft Windows), and each window could be moved or resized as needed. So a player could have their inventory screen, a screen with details about a particular object, the game map, a specific room item list, a compass, a help menu, the main screen with a graphic, and more all open at once. Particularly enjoyable for those who tired of the constant switch between game map – inventory – action screen that most games used.
Wonderland received generally good reviews: “…very simply, it’s fun stuff to play” (Computer Game Review, June 1991); “Wonderland has shown me that the adventure-game genre is alive and growing” (Compute!, August 1991); ”an atmospheric and cerebellum-crushing adventure game…“ (Amiga Power, June 1991). It was (and is!) an enjoyable romp through a classic landscape. It doesn’t have much repeat play value, but being of the adventure game genre, it’s not really fair to expect it to. For those who have never parsed a text, give Wonderland a chance to show you what gaming was like twenty years ago!
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.
Format- 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Amazon – Grim Fandango
“A ticket on the number 9 is like a leaf of gold Manuel”
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.
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 (1999)
By: Climax Graphics / Activision Genre: Survival Horror Players: 1 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?
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!).
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The original PS1 version is a classic, but the game is dated quite a bit. Just think about it, we went from this
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.
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.
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.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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!
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
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s scary to think that it’s now 23 years since Naxat dreamed up the genesis of the Crush series. There have since been several sequels, both official and otherwise, the last of which was the little-known Jaki Crush, itself now almost 20 years old, but that was it. Until now! Yes, in a move of special magnificence, Tamsoft have resurrected this great series and what better way of doing so than to remake the original? Alien Crush Returns is more of a sequel than a remake really though and they’ve even managed to tack on a backstory this time!
Apparently “an elite squad of space marines sets off to investigate an alien spaceship trapped in Jupiter’s gravity” or some such nonsense. Sound familiar? How they’ve managed to facilitate a pinball game with that story I don’t know, but the game includes a story mode, arcade mode, ranking mode and versus mode (1-4 player), and as well as multiple tables, including bonus tables as always, and lots of other sweet features like multi ball, reverse ball, etc.
The biggest change between this game and the original is of course the graphics which are lovely and suitably grotesque, including pulsating sacs, toothy mouths, slimy tubes, scuttling insects, and all manner of horrifying beasts. There’s even huge bosses this time too! There are initially three tables to play in arcade mode (although more can be downloaded) and the ball pings around them at quite a speed, probably the fastest of any Crush game so far, and as usual they are packed with secrets and bonuses galore.
I haven’t yet spent any time playing this game as I don’t own a Wii but the prospect of playing it sure makes buying one a tempting prospect, and the possibility of a Devil’s Crush Returns in the future is even more exciting! So, Alien Crush has indeed returned but is it better than the original? Well, that remains to be seen, but I can’t wait to find out!
RKS Score: 4/5
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.
With all the hubub about DRM and digital distribution of games, it’s real easy to forget that some platforms have been using the concept for DECADES. One such platform was the Commodore 64, a system very near and dear to my heart. And as such, I’d like to present a game that is similarly dear to me, as it’s one of the first games I ever played, Haunted Hill for the Commodore 64!
Written by George Richardson for Merlin’s Associates, its a simple Centipede style game released as a shareware title in 1983. But, as you’ll find out, it’s more than just that.
Verdict: Almost passable for a freebie I’m afraid.
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.
Those on the ausretrogamer bandwagon will be aware that I LOVE Galaga! Namco’s vertical shoot’em up trapped me in its tractor beam back in 1981 and hasn’t released me yet.
Some 30 plus years ago, while waiting for relatives to arrive at Melbourne International Airport, I noticed a tabletop machine nearby. Upon gazing at the screen, I saw a little triangular ship shooting at formations of alien spaceships streaming from the sides of the screen. My first thought was, “wow, a souped-up Space Invaders”. Once I dropped in two 20 cent pieces, I immediately realised – this was no Space Invaders. This was way better! You could shoot multiple times (as long as you had the finger dexterity), your ship could be captured in a tractor beam, and there were challenge stages to rack up those high score points. To put it mildly, I was hooked.
So, what was it about Galaga that got this child hooked all those years ago? Galaga was, and still is, an uncomplicated vertical shoot’em up with the right mix of challenge and entertainment. Blasting those pesky alien spaceships gives a great sense of satisfaction.
For those unfamiliar with Galaga, here is the low-down on this beautiful game: You control the ship at the bottom of the screen, firing at Galaga enemies, moving left and right to avoid their fire and kamikaze attacks.
The enemy spaceships fly onto the screen from the left or right side. Unless you can shoot them all while forming, they assemble in the centre of the screen – just like in Space Invaders. As you play the game, you quickly learn the formation patterns and can anticipate when and how the spaceships will fly out onto the screen.
There is one particular Galaga enemy ship that is special – these enemy spaceships take multiple hits before they are destroyed. If you do not destroy them, they can fly down the screen towards you and release a tractor beam to capture your ship. To free the captured ship, you must destroy the captor Galaga while it is attacking you, if you fail, your captured ship will be destroyed. When you free your captured ship, it will dock alongside your current ship, and you are thus rewarded with a dual firing weapon of mass destruction.
These dual ships are especially handy for blasting away enemies during challenge stages. With your dual ship you can clear stages quickly and collect some nice bonus points. Speaking of points, every 20,000 earns you an additional life (ship); and as the game increases in difficulty, every spare ship counts.
Galaga remains a firm favorite in the gaming community, especially to those who grew up in the 80s. Since dropping in those coins all those years ago, I can safely say my affinity for Galaga has not subsided one bit. Long live Galaga!
|Graphics||The star field is realistic enough to make you feel like you are flying through deep space engaging in some enemy fire.|
|Sound||Pew Pew sound effects never sounded any better.|
|Playability||Insert coins, move left or right and fire. Couldn’t be any easier, right?|
|Lastability||Galaga enemy spaceships have been fired upon ever since 1981. You do the maths on the lastability of this seminal shooter.|
|Overall||When it comes to old school vertical shoot’em ups, Galaga is at the top of its class.|
Genre: Shoot’em Up
Number of Simultaneous Players: 1
Maximum number of Players: 2
Control Panel Layout: Single Player
– Joystick: 2-way (left, right)
– Buttons: 1 (fire)
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)
Drop it! That and the sound it makes whenever Robocop pulls his gun from his leg holster is what I remember the most from the 1988 arcade game. I also remember I was never very good at it. This is a run and gun game meaning the key is to be on the move and ready to shoot at all times. The game also expects you to have a good twitch factor as bad guys will be coming out of everywhere.
When you play or watch this game and get a feeling like you are playing Bad Dudes, that’s because the two have a lot in common. I would almost call this a skin game in that you replaced a few things to make it “Robocop”, but you could switch them again and make it Bad Dudes. Nevertheless, many games were like that in the 80’s and 90’s.
So Robocop gives you the general feel of the first movie. You walk around the streets of Detroit shooting random bad guys and facing bosses, some you have never seen in any movie and others you will instantly recognize like ED-209. Like the Superman game, they had to make it way easier for you to die, so Robocop is a bit of a wimp meaning just gays running at him unarmed can cause him damage and bullets hitting him anywhere do why too much damage.
Sometimes when walking around the level you only have your fists to defend you, but once gun wielding enemies show up, you pull out your sidearm and take them down. You can duck to avoid enemy gunfire and jump over obstacles. You also find power ups, life, ammo and weapons from taking out cans, crates and some bad guys drop their weapons as well.
Overall, the game is fun even if sometimes at the beginning of a level you are thrown right into a swam of bad guys and when you continue, and continues are limited, you start exactly where you died, meaning if ED-290 shot you when you come back he is still right there in the act of shooting you. The game is still fun, but it is hard, at least to me. You take too much damage, have too little life and some normal human bad guys take to many shots to die, but hey, this is Detroit. Nobody said it was gonna be easy.
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 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 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.
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 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.
Anyway, let us now focus on the picture posted above. How could we describe it? Well, beautiful I suppose. Unique might come in handy too. And stylish. Yes, yes, deeply atmospheric also. Slightly ominous is another one. Definitely nice. Then again the word we are indeed looking for here ishandcrafted. Yes, as in properly, physically, manually crafted using traditional non-digital components. Everything you’ll see in the game -every backdrop, every character, every animation- was actually created by hand and photographed. This dear friend is 3D, but not of the 3D Studiokind:
Stunning visuals aside, the Dream Machine is an impressively good and rather traditional indie game of the point-and-click sort, that is less traditionally played via a browser and somehow manages to save your process in a cloud; or was that clouds? I frankly wouldn’t know. Steam also sports some sort of a cloud they tell me, but I’m pretty sure I was once taught clouds are made of steam and, well, did I mention it’s a great game? It is. And it’s got a great and appropriate soundtrack to go with it too.
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.
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.
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 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.
The Vectrex was one of those ‘love to have’ gaming machines which only rich kids had back in the 1980s. The machine was ahead of its time. Fast forward 30 years and the machine remains a ‘love to have’ for many a retro gamer.
If you are one of those lucky enough to have a Vectrex, you would be well aware that games are hard to come by, and usually quite expensive when you do stumble across them.
If you don’t care for having each individual Vectrex game (or the overlays), there is another option – the Vectrom 32 game multi-cassette (cart). This ‘homebrew’ cart gives you the best bang for your buck. The more popular ‘Sean Kelly’ cart may have more games (72 in fact!), but they are almost impossible to source and very expensive.
The Vectrom cart costs about $45, that is about $1.40 for each game – what a bargain! For that price, you get the cart hinged inside a VHS style case. To keep the authentic retro feel, the game selection is done manually via the mini dip-switch selector on the cart – no software menu selection system here folks! The stuffing around with the dip-switch selection takes some getting used to, but the feature adds to the charm. Don’t stress though, the back of the VHS case has the dip-switch combinations for each of the 32 games.
Before you scream “this isn’t legit!”, let me assure you, it is. The original makers of the Vectrex have given open permission to continue development and have put the entire system into the public domain. Unlike other old consoles, it is perfectly legal to emulate all original Vectrex games.
For those itching to know what games are on the cartridge, here is the complete list. The games on the cartridge are some of the all-time best games for the Vectrex.
Verdict: If you have a Vectrex and you are sick of playing MineStorm, then you need the Vectrom 32-in-1 multi-cassette!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Syberia Collection
Monster Lair is a side-scrolling action game originally released to the arcades by Sega in 1988. A year later the game was adapted for the Turbo Grafx-16 by Hudson Soft. One of the cool things about Monster Lair is how the game starts out as a normal platformer where you control a boy or girl hero trying to stop the enemy from destroying your land and later on in the game, it turns into a shoot em up.
Kickle Cubicle. It’s not a name that exactly rolls off the tongue.
I was worried I wouldn’t be able to give this one a proper review actually. My copy seemed to freeze every time I reached the third level, but fortunately an enthusiastic puff of the cartridge connectors saw it bought back to life.
You playing as the titular Kickle (a pale baby with earmuffs), going around grids freezing enemies and using them as climbing blocks, etc. It’s a bit like the Adventures of Lolo.
Added elements of interest are thrown in as well of course – such as roving enemies that need to either be dispatched or avoided, springs, and walls that are impossible to get around.
Pretty standard puzzle ingredients then, but it’s all done with a colourful art style and a bouncy soundtrack, helping it to lift it above your average puzzler.
There’s something quite refreshingly odd about it as well. The opening world is named ‘vegetable land,’ yet apart from veg circling you in celebration at the end of a stage there isn’t a sight of produce anywhere else. Plus, a tomato is spotted in one level – rookie error Irem.
The boss fights and the cutscenes are also a sickening broth of the saccharine and cutesy, but they are certainly endearing. Although how Kickle manages to jump from cloud to cloud in one cutscene, yet can’t jump over a small river in game is beyond me.
This is a pretty solid puzzle actioneer, all told. The whole thing is done with enough style and user friendliness (a helpful password system is in place) to make you keep coming back for seconds – I may even attempt to finish it one day. That’s a high recommendation indeed.
The human condition. We are a resilient bunch. If you want to test your resiliency (and your patience), then give the unforgiving and difficult arcade game, Ghosts’n Goblins a spin.
The game sees you, Sir Arthur, a noble knight, run and jump through horizontal and vertical levels to rescue his sweetheart, Princess Guinevere (or Princess Prin Prin in other ports of the game).
Sir Arthur can pick up weapons like: an axe, lance, cross, dagger or firebrand. These weapons can be used to kill Satan’s army of monsters, zombies, bats, ogres, demons and ghosts. Sir Arthur can replace his armour by jumping up at certain hidden spots on some levels. This action causes a pot to appear. It is imperative the armour stays intact. Take two hits, and it is curtains for Sir Arthur. That is exactly why this game is unforgiving and damn difficult to complete.
It is not all doom and gloom if you know some tricks to beat this game. The developers at Capcom weren’t going to be totally cruel to us poor arcade gamers. They left us a few surprises (easter eggs) along the way to help Sir Arthur get further into the game. What were these tricks you ask ? Well, we won’t give away all of them, but one good one can be found on the third cave level. Navigate Sir Arthur to the upper level and move him to the right of the rock, just to the left of the second ladder. Then move left and right, shooting rapidly. A zombie will keep appearing and you can score 100,000 points before time runs out. Don’t worry about the time running out and losing a life, you will be rewarded with two extra lives in the process. Even with this trick, you still have to give up a life to get two back. Those Capcom developers were sadists.
Ghosts’n Goblins was, and still is, a great platform game. It is still difficult and frustrating as ever. So, if you like your games to be difficult and challanging, then you can not go wrong with this one.
Genre: Platform fighter
Maximum number of simultaneous players: 2
Buttons: 2 (Fire and Jump)
Control Panel Layout: 1 Player Ambidextrous
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)
Cabinet: Upright Standard
Monitor: CRT, Raster standard resolution
Levels: Graveyard and forest, town, caves, bridge, castle – lower level, castle – upper level, final boss
Ah the lone wolf run and gun game. You have become such a great solider that your reward is to be sent up against an army and destroy something that should have been taken out by long range missiles. In this game you are not only a lone wolf, but a bloody one at that.
Bloody Wolf is a pretty standard run and gun in the vein of Ikari Warriors, Merc and Heavy Barrel. Developed by Data East in 1988 this arcade game featured Snake and eagle, two commandos against an army of bad guys, but luckily for you, you had a ton of weapons at your disposal.
There are lots of NES games we missed from Japan because they didn’t think we were ready for them. This is one of the few gems that made it even though the NES was well past its prime as the SNES was already taking over the world. Little Samson is not only a hard to find game, but it’s a good one. In most cases, when the game is really hard to find it, it’s mainly because of low production numbers while other reasons would be popularity.
This one is a case of low production numbers due to the fact that the NES was long gone. Many people missed this gem but thanks to wonderful tools like eBay and emulators we can enjoy what we missed. I do remember playing this game back when the NES was still around and it was quite amazing. I had no idea it would be worth so much all these years later. Enough of this history lesson, lets check out the game in the different basis of review.
The music is marvelous. Each character has their own musical number that defines their character. It’s quite enjoyable for your ears. The game is also packed with great sound effects as well as music other then the character’s music. You’ll definitely enjoy this one if you are an 8-bit sound fanatic.
The NES was already past its prime but developers knew every trick there had to be for the console. Programming a beautiful game was no problem due to the experience developers had. In other words, since this game came out in 1992 and was developed by a brilliant team, it means the graphics are awesome! Each character looks as exquisite as the other. The backgrounds are live and vivid and the enemies are just as lively as everything else on the game! Well done!
The gameplay is probably the best part of this game. This game is just amazing to play with. Each character has their own abilities which will help you through the game. You have the mouse that can climb all over and drop bombs Metroid style, then you have the powerful stone warrior with enough strength to destroy anything. The dragon comes in handy as it can fly for a short period of time and then of course the main hero which has a little bit of everything. A great balance of characters makes the game ever so enjoyable.
This game is so enjoyable that it’s great to come back to. You can’t say no to another round especially when you get to use the cute little mouse!! The dragon is also awesome, well all of them are!! You’ll definitely come back to this game for another round because this platformer is just amazing!
The game itself is a gem but it won’t come cheap. I highly suggest you try it on an emulator and then decide if you want to buy it or not. It goes for around 100 dollars cart only. In the end, it’s just an amazing game that having a physical copy of it will look amazing in your collection. There is nothing more to say except that this game is amazing!! I think I’ve said that before but it’s just that enjoyable. Everything in it will give you hours of joy whether it’s the music, characters, and most of all the gameplay.
Genre- On rails shooter
One of the main appeals of a lightgun game is, obviously, the gun itself. The heft of it, the feel – it kindles our instinctive love of tactility. It does for me anyway.
Now, take that lightgun away from the experience. And make the actual game underneath a bit rubbish. Now, my friends, you have Knife Edge on N64.
It’s games like this that I fear the most during these retro revisits – its blurry 3D graphics and generally archaic sensibilities are so dated that it can’t even muster up a modicum of retro appeal.
The game wasn’t considered much cop back when it was released, so by todays standards it’s, naturally, looking pretty poor.
My cart of the game has been scrawled over, and alongside the dark murky colour scheme on the cart’s label it’s almost as if it wants to be forgotten and unoticed. I can’t blame it.
The label is actually a good representation of the graphics in-game. Low-res browns are abundant, and the text during cutscenes is of the weird thin scrawly font type that was strangely popular in the N64 era.
You play as a fighter pilot, and view things from a first person perspective. Basically you move your crosshair with the analogue stick and fire away at baddies. That’s it. All the main handling is done for you. It’s a generally sluggish and un-involving affair, with only the boss battles the moments graced with any gravitas.
There’s little else to say, besides the music is like something from a nightclub nightmare. It would have fitted in well with that club from the Robocop movie – and that’s not a good thing.
I feel a bit sorry for Knife Edge really. It has little cult appeal, and it’s not even so bad it’s good.
A small mercy for Europeans such as myself though – the game had the subtitle ‘Nose Gunner’ stapled onto it for its US release, but not anywhere else. At least I didn’t have to suffer that completely rubbish name.
Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Taito is a video game developer/publisher that has been in the industry for decades, from their work on arcade cabinets in the 1970’s to mobile device diversions in the 2010’s. As part of their somewhat storied history, in 1991, they released a license game called The Flintstones: The Rescue Of Dino & Hoppy, based on the popular animated television show. Oddly enough, the platformer was actually pretty good.
This is a one-player two-dimensional side-scrolling platformer in which the A button jumps and the B button attacks. This is already a promising formula, but with a lot of room to screw up. Fortunately for gamers everywhere, Taito did not take the somewhat typical route of cheaply, quickly producing the license title to try and take advantage of the fleeting popularity of the name recognition; instead, they packed in enough extras to add some intriguing gameplay dimensions, levels designed at least decently enough to provide a simple challenge, and all done with fairly slick execution.
The player controls Fred Flintstone who, beyond just jumping and swinging a big caveman’s club as an attack, has a few other maneuvers in his repertoire as well. Pressing down causes Fred to drop his head into his shirt, making him able to dodge certain projectiles he will encounter. Holding A during a jump will enable him to grab onto ledges, and pressing up on the edge will enable him to climb up, an essential move to completing the stages. Holding B powers up the club for a more powerful hit, during which Fred humorously waves it above his head until the release strike. There are items to collect as well, such as health items to replenish hearts (begins with three, five max), extra lives, and also including additional weapons. Once one of the three are collected, they can be activated by pressing up and B.
The ammo system is interesting. The three items are an axe, which is thrown upward in an arc that comes back down; a slingshot, which fires straight ahead; and, amusingly enough, Boomasaurus eggs which are laid then, a few seconds later, “explode” to kill all enemies on the screen or harm a boss. Using one of the weapons takes tokens. The tokens can be found by killing most enemies. The Boomasaurus eggs take ten tokens to use, while slingshot shots and axes take three, but grabbing a token adds five to Fred’s total, offering an economy of use whereby one slingshot projectile per each fallen foe giving a token item results in a net profit of two tokens per enemy, although the amount does max out at 100.
The levels express a diversity in physics effects at a couple points, though perhaps feeling a little contrived. There is the usual ice level, with its slippery surface; but also a neat twist on an underwater level where, rather than swim, it is still a platforming stage, but with reduced gravity. The truly contrived, at worst, comes with the Asian level, complete with stereotypical martial-arts enemies and 8-bit “Oriental” music.
Then there are the three basketball matches. Huh? Yeah, there is an overworld accessed between levels, offering route choice toward completion, which would be notable enough, but the truly noteworthy feature is the three one-on-one roundball rounds against Hard-Head Harry. The strangest part is that, if the player wins by scoring more points in the one-minute time period, the reward is one of three abilities granted by pressing Start and requesting from the Great Gazoo, who himself is a time-traveling alien who appeared on the show as the resident shark-jumper. The three possible rewards are temporary abilities to Fly, in which Fred dons wings and can head upward until hitting something; Jump, for which he hopes on a dinosaur and jumps a crazy height; and Dive, which is supposedly to help travel through water but is not really necessary, and even only helpful on a single level.
Oh, the plot, by the way, and forgive this second-person-voice reviewer for slipping into more informal language for the moment, revolves around the two beloved dino-pets being kidnapped by a diabolical evil doctor from the future, who breaks Gazoo’s time machine, spreading its parts across the world, which is the whole point Fred is defeating all the stages to complete the machine to chase the villain down. Along the way, Fred will run into other classic characters from the shoe, like Wilma and Barney, who tend to inform him of an upcoming boss fight, which all the stages end which, featuring enormous monsters and even, at the castle, a Dracula-like character, matching giant Frankenstens throughout.
The point: This is a solidly designed, thorough, professionally developed platformer, and done well by Taito, standing as a great example of what a license title can be and, dare it be said, approaches the level of Capcom’s license platformers. It does play a little slower, a little more strategic with its Prince of Persia-like edge-hanging, so it is not as much of a fast-paced game, but some players may even dig that. On the other side of the coin, the worst parts would have to be the knockback suffered with every enemy hit, and the sinister traps laid by the designers, including the need to take a couple leaps of complete faith to advance.
Flintstones: The Rescue Of Dino & Hoppy looks pretty, sharp, and pretty sharp. The animated sprites are drawn well, the enemy designs are competent, and the levels vary widely in their appearance. Even the signature style from the show is used for Fred’s walk animation, with his exaggerated leg movements. The way Fred can creep along while holding B for a club strike is enjoyable. Yet among the strengths are a couple noticeable flaws: Primarily, the one-color backgrounds in some bits, startling when jumping across a broad chasm; and, in the game’s ambition, there are some minor flickering issues when dealing with the larger foe creatures.
A weak point of the game, in this reviewer’s opinion, but for a very specific reason that not everyone may agree with: The background music tracks very heavily rely on painfully high notes. Even though the compositions themselves are fine, even achieving the right range of zany cartoon mayhem, the melody leans on ear-splittingly high notes. The sound effects are okay; if not difficult to comment on, considering the onslaught of eardrum-burstingly shrill tunes.
The head-ducking effect, the plot twist that shows an amazingly brilliant use of license property near the end of the game, the tokens-as-ammo weapons system, and other elements add up to this being an admirably creative platformer. Perhaps no one of its ingredients is in itself inherently completely original (for example, there are certainly other basketball games on the NES), but the combination is distinctively unique and proves to be a satisfying experience. The rating goes four stars out of five for this one.
The Button Affair is the story of Enzo Gabriel. His quest. To steal the priceless Button Jewel from the infinitely wealthy business tycoon Victor Meirelles.
By: Taito Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 259,300 (one credit)
Also Available For: MegaDrive, NES
The differences between the gaming cultures in Japan and the ‘West’ really are quite amazing sometimes. Obviously certain genres are more popular in certain parts of the world but even some that are universally popular, such as shoot ’em ups, can be quite different. The Japanese like bright, cute, and often very weird games while us Western gamers apparently have darker, more realistic, and often more violent tastes. A great example of this peculiar trend is Insector X by frequent purveyors of cuteness, Taito. Accordingly, this original is colourful and full of cute characters. Most Western gamers know it as a MegaDrive release, however, and this version features much more realistic graphics devoid of cuteness. When I recently decided to reacquaint myself with the game, this time by sampling the arcade version, it was this kind of game that I was expecting, but as you’ve probably already determined, it’s not the type of game I found.
No versions of the game seem big on story, not even the ones that have instruction manuals as far as I can tell, but it seems the premise involves some sort of insect infestation, but they’re not just ordinary insects – these ones are cybernetic terrors! Rather than using a combination of insect repellent and the odd hydraulic press, however, the fate of the world (whichever world it is) is instead left up to a hero who rivals the insects in terms of his diminutive stature as well as his hardened resolve. He goes by the name of Yanmer and only with your help can he rid the world of the Dark Ruler Queen, etc. Five side-scrolling stages stand between the two adversaries as well as a large number of exoskeletal goons who, I’m happy to say, do not exclusively possess the luxury of flight – Yanmer is not only equipped with wings himself which enable free and unlimited movement around the stages but he also wears a hat topped by a propeller for good measure.
The freedom of flight would be useless without something a bit more aggressive to back it up with though, as a single hit from one of the spindly critters is enough to put him down. To this end, Yanmer is also equipped with the standard weedy gun which initially fires a single small shot. It can be powered-up fairly quickly by collecting ‘P’ icons though, while the similar ‘S’ icons put a bit more wind in his wings, the ‘A’ icon equips an autofire option, Lightning icons are smart bombs, there are acorns to collect for bonus points, and there’s also the odd 1up to look out for. Then there’s the special attacks. There are ten of these altogether which are obtained by collecting insecticide cans carried by some enemies (which is a bit like Ripley carrying an angry Alien around, but nevermind) which alternate between ground and air attacks – coloured brown or blue respectively – of which there are five apiece. They are seemingly awarded randomly but generally consist of either bomb-like things to hammer the numerous floor-dwelling enemies, and various types of missiles for taking out the more numerous airborne nincompoops.
These special attacks can also be powered-up by collecting successive icons and before long our heroic fairy is hurling an almost-unbreachable wall of death! That doesn’t make it the easiest arcade shmup of all-time but it’s far from the hardest either. Least that means you should get to see all the stages though, but are they worth seeing? Graphically, it uses a mixture of styles. As mentioned, the sprites are mostly cute creatures such as flies, bees, dragonflies, moths, and ladybirds in the air while the ground forces are made up of fish, snails, flowers, and even mushrooms. The stages themselves, on the other hand, are made to look a bit more realistic for the most part. They’re named Desert, Plateau, City, Jungle, and Their Empire, and feature a decent mixture of man-made as well as natural environments, both indoor and outdoor.
Each stage, or ‘area’, is guarded by a giant creepy-crawly too, such as wasps or spiders. These things reminded me of the bosses in Fantasy Zone – they have limited movement and seem to content merely flinging a load of bullets your way. They’re not nearly as tough as the infernal guardians in Sega’s older cute ’em up but they do look half-decent, as do many of the backgrounds and some of the amusing enemies too, but I can’t help thinking this looks like a game designed a few years earlier – things were generally quite a bit flashier than this by 1989. The flashiest thing here is probably Yanmer’s weapons, with the screen often brimming with his multi-coloured bullets and missiles, but most effects, such as the explosions or enemies taking damage are quite poor. Still, it’s pleasant and cheerful enough, and sounds the part too. The music is rather on the loud side but most tunes are catchy and suit the cutesy action pretty well.
For all its decent-though-unspectacular aesthetics, though, I’m struggling to think of any one moment or section of the game that really stands out. Control of Yanmer is good, although it’s possible to speed him up too much, but there isn’t really much in the way of foreground scenery or obstacles to manoeuvre around which was disappointing and made progress a bit… well, boring at times, especially as there isn’t really any super-tough, nerve-fraying parts either. A balanced difficulty level is rare in a shmup, admittedly, but sometimes you need a crazy, hectic section to keep you on your toes! It’s not a very long game either – a player of moderate skill should be able to play it through in less then twenty minutes with a bit of practise. Insector X is far from a terrible game and is well worthy of a blast if the chance arises – what else gives you the opportunity blow the crap out of confused-looking snails, frowning moths, and evil mushrooms? – but when the most noteworthy thing about a game, and an arcade game no less, is curiosity over its graphical style compared to a more popular version, it can’t really be wonderful news either.
RKS Score: 6/10
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
In 1988, developer Taxan offered the North American release of Mappy-Land, a port to the Nintendo Entertainment System based on an earlier arcade game. Like many other home console titles of the era, it was a serviceable version of the cabinet unit but with a step down in graphics, featuring never-ending gameplay in an attempt to garner high scores.
The NES video game Mappy-Land follows the action of the protagonist, Mappy the Mouse, a police mouse in fact, as he traverses various areas in a side-scrolling platforming adventure divided into four stages of eight levels each, the eight levels almost identical but with slight differences in each world until they eventually repeat completely. Throughout the first world, Mappy must collect pieces of cheese; then, the second world, rings; then Christmas trees in the third world, before collecting baseballs in the fourth and final.
As he is doing so, he is pursued by small cats called Mewkies, a slightly larger cat on each stage named Goro, and sometimes differing foes depending on the level, such as level three that has monkeys on vines. Getting touched by any of these enemies loses a life, and losing all lives equals Game Over.
The control is non-traditional, with the B button used to jump and the A button used to set traps, which are kept in an inventory amount at the top of the screen and can temporarily distract moving Mewkies when laid. Otherwise, this is a very vertically oriented game, with dozens of trampolines throughout that Mappy must use to choose which floor of different structures to traverse in order to find the necessary items in each realm needed to advance to the next stage. There is also a time limit, though not overtly shown; however, there are two warning sounds given before enemies increase or one outright kills Mappy. Sometimes a level, like level six with obtaining a cross to get past the vampire cat at the end, requires a secondary objective. Play continues as Mappy collects the needed items and advances to the end of each stage.
Sometimes the trampolines are a bit touchy, and the third-level vines especially so. In fact, this entire game has a very distinct feel to its controls that takes some getting used to. Once you get used to it, you will find yourself smoothly traveling between the floors, using the trampolines, setting the in-level traps, grabbing the items, and traversing along as you conquer level after level, until the welcome reprieve in the castle side-level (like the church or haunted house on level six) of level eight when you race to try and gather the items in time for Mappy’s family member’s birthday party, etc. This is among the most obviously arcade-inspired of the NES games.
This cartridges looks okay in play, but not great. The colors are a bit washed out, to the extent that it can take a few moments to find a needed on-screen item at times, as they lack proper outlines and detail. It is of average appearance, taking the usual step down from the graphics of the arcade counterpart.
Like other early titles, especially arcade-inspired renditions, Mappy-Land has upbeat, high-pitched background music. It is not as grating as some other examples, but is certainly not going to win any awards any time soon, either. The effects are simple, though very appropriate, such as the little ghost gun on level six, or the heavy noise of the bowling ball traps as they bounce along.
The original concept is interesting, in that the characters have names and there is even a loose plot involving Mappy collecting items for his family members. The gameplay itself is just the natural, organic arcade advancement of previous item-finding, time-sensitive, high-score-seeking titles like Pac-Man, but with a heroic mouse and some more colors.
Overall, Mappy-Land is a very average game, if that “very average” phrase makes any sense. It will have its loyal adherents that have fallen into deep fondness with its mechanics and have mastered them, and it will also have its detractors who only grow further frustrated and annoyed with its play that can be downright difficult and annoying if you are not used to it. Its one endearing value is, pointedly, this learning curve: In a way, this video game is unique, and those who break it down into its basic foundational aspects may find the same satisfaction that other gamers have found when conquering Donkey Kong, Centipede, etc. But even if it is considered a tightly developed, perfectly challenging arcade-style port cartridge, its shallow play and inability to break any spectacular boundaries of quality lands it two and a half stars out of five.
Racing fans always wanted to get their hands on a game that allowed them to challenge themselves on real life racing tracks. As games began to come out featuring them, fans wanted more and more. Enter, Victory Run for the Turbo Grafx-16. It was released in 1989 by Hudson Soft and was one of the first racing games to depict the Paris-Dakar Rally.
Victory run also featured degradable parts that you had to replace if you had spare parts which you acquired before the start of a race. You can find rereleases of Victory run for the Wii Virtual Console and the Playstation Network.
Format- Atari 2600
Genre- Side on shooter
There’s only so many things you can say about a lot of Atari 2600 games without stating the obvious.
The graphics are basic. The gameplay is confusing. What is that shape actually supposed to represent? Yes, if you’re not trained in the ways of ye olde Atari, most of the console’s games are more trouble than they’re worth.
Judging Crash Dive purely on adjusted standards though, it isn’t too bad. Sure, it’s pretty aimless and outdated, but what do you expect?
You play as the white ship (see pic) that is always fixed on the left hand side of the screen. Enemies such as fish, battleships and lizards all come at you, and it’s your duty to blast them away. That’s your lot.
Added intrigue does comes about however, with how the screen is unevenly split between air, sea and underground. Your craft can dive underwater (which involves a cute – for the Atari – splash effect) and burrow underground, but for all extents and purposes the ship’s handling remains the same.
You have a few lives, with the only aim seemingly to stay alive. You’ll play this for a few minutes and that’s probably it. This is a solid entry into the 2600 pantheon, and the sounds are as retro-cool as ever, but i’m struggling to say any more.
Developed by 20th Century Fox, i’m not sure whether the game is the studio attempting a very late interactive version of the 1943 film of the same name. I don’t think the film would be worth seeing if the game’s ‘plot’ is anything to go by though.