Frank's NES/FDS game reviews

Frankincense

Your dear leader
Global Moderator
Nov 5, 2010
21,339
705
Hi all, modern and retro gamers alike!
I'll be posting my reviews of some old school games here, with NES/FDS games as the main focus. I'll try to update regularly.
Hope you find my reviews helpful and enjoyable. Thanks to all who bother to read them. All comments are welcome!

---

Table of contents

1. Super Mario Bros. 2
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2
3. Contra
4. Dragon Warrior
5. Nintendo World Cup
6. Mega Man
7. Wrecking Crew
8. Famicom Wars
9. Kirby's Adventure
10. Silkworm
11. Mega Man 2
12. WIP

---

1. Super Mario Bros. 2

smb2_0_zps45023431.png


Released In: 1988
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo


I'm sure most of us gamers have our childhood full of fond memories of Nintendo's masterpiece that is the SMB Series. The colorful sprites, the catchy music, the well-liked Koopalings, the annoying Lakitus... It is an absolute classic. The Mario games were the pinnacle of the NES era. Getting power-ups, stomping enemies, jumping from platform to platform, a formula that is surprisingly simple but crazily addictive.

And there's this one SMB game that doesn't look very Mario-ish.

smb2_1_zps1f4dd257.png

Mario throwing turnips at some masked guys? Is this some sort of joke?

I had my first chance to play SMB2 only after I had played SMB and SMB3. For me, SMB was my first Mario game, and then SMB3, which has pretty similar gameplay and mechanics, was my second, so I reckoned SMB2 had to have the same elements. But, no. Instead of entering pipes, now Mario enters vases. Instead of collecting coins, now Mario collects cherries. Where are all the "?" blocks? Where are all the Goombas? Where have all the familiar features of SMB as we know it gone? This doesn't make any sense.

When I first saw SMB2, I thought it was some hack of some other game. Multicarts, pirated games and hacked games weren't uncommon. I once saw someone play this NES game named Super Mario Bros. 6. 6? What about 4 and 5? Super Mario Bros. 6 must be REALLY ahead of its time, so ahead that they decided to skip 4 and 5 to denote its aheadness. That must be it. There's no other explanation.

...Or not. Turned out it was just a hack of Konami's Tiny Toon Adventures.

smb2_2_zpsc2badb1f.png
smb2_3_zpscf703023.png

This blows my mind.

SMB2 isn't far from it. Some of us might already know that the US version of SMB2 isn't the true sequel. Nintendo decided that the original SMB2 was too difficult and didn't offer enough new things to keep gamers interested, so they got Yume Koujou: Doki Doki Panic, replaced the playable characters, polished it here and there a little, and voila.

smb2_4_zpsace8fb84.png
smb2_5_zpscf0bc762.png

smb2_8_zpsc2db1263.png
smb2_9_zpscb1f1ad7.png

smb2_10_zpsce269066.png
smb2_11_zps987393b7.png

smb2_12_zps97b7f618.png
smb2_13_zps0f715485.png

Some of the differences between Doki Doki Panic and SMB2.

So that's why SMB2 is so different from other games in the series. But how would it fare? We'll see.

Story directly copied and pasted from the official manual, because I'm lazy.

One evening, Mario had a strange dream. He dreamt of a long, long stairway leading up to a door. As soon as the door opened, he was confronted with a world he had never seen before spreading out as far as his eyes could see. When he strained his ears to listen, he heard a faint voice saying "Welcome to 'Subcon', the land of dreams. We have been cursed by Wart and we are completely under his evil spell. We have been awaiting your arrival. Please defeat Wart and return Subcon to its natural state. The curse Wart has put on you in the real world will not have any effect upon you here. Remember, Wart hates vegetables. Please help us!" At the same time this was heard, a bolt of lightning flashed before Mario's eyes. Stunned, Mario lost his footing and tumbled upside down. He awoke with a start to find himself sitting up in his bed. To clear his head, Mario talked to Luigi, Toad and Princess about the strange dream he had. They decide to go to a nearby mountain for a picnic. After arriving at the picnic area and looking at the scenery, they see a small cave nearby. When thy enter this cave, to their great surprise, there's a stairway leading up, up and up. It is exactly like the one Mario saw in his dream. They all walk together up the stairs and at the top, find a door just like the one is Mario's dream. When Mario and his friends, in fear, open the door, to their surprise, the world that he saw in his dream spreads out before them!....

You start the game with the character selection screen.

smb2_14_zps96a188fa.png

The character selection screen.

SMB2 offers variety right away by giving you four playable characters to choose from. Apart from the Mario brothers, now the player can also choose to play as Toad or Princess Peach. Each character has different strengths and weaknesses. Mario is the most well-rounded character. Luigi has the highest jump but slightly less strong. Toad has the worst jump, but he is the strongest character. Princess Peach is the weakest character, but she can hover in the air for a brief moment.

You can pick the character that best suits your style of play or the situation you have to face. Although Mario can adapt to any situations, you can benefit more from other characters in some levels.

smb2_15_zps66f26e47.png
smb2_17_zpsc51c7bd6.png
smb2_16_zpse0d4774b.png

The playable characters.

As soon as you enter the dream world, you'll be greeted by a beautiful and vivacious BGM.

smb2_18_zps639078c5.png

Who put the exit here!?

Music:

SMB2's music is great. There aren't many tracks in total and they're so simple, yet they're so memorable. you can listen to it again and again until it sticks in your head, and you won't mind it. Sometimes you'll want to pick it up and play it again with great nostalgia. The overworld theme and the ending theme are ones of the best 8-bit video game songs of all time.

Rating: 9/10

Graphics:

smb2_19_zps49ffeedc.png

The lush green scenery of world 1-1.

The graphics are pleasantly colorful. Most of the time the backgrounds are just plain plain. But what makes up for it is the liveliness the original SMB lacks. The cherries and the leaves swaying in the wind, the fluffy clouds, the running waterfall, the sprites are pretty detailed (for the era) and well-animated. The enemies look like they're really alive, the hopping Ostros, the struggling Shy Guys (when being hoisted), the flashing Sparks, you know immediately you'll be in deep trouble if you touch those. SMB2 could have become a duller game, but the graphics have breathed life and energy into it.

Rating: 8/10

Control:

There's nothing complicated with how you control your character, which is a good thing. A for jump, B for actions (picking, throwing, running, digging), D-pad to move and climb, up to enter doors, down to enter vases.

You can also do the power jump by holding the down button until the character flashes, then jump. This move allows you to reach high place you normally can't, and is also useful in some other situations.

The control is overall smooth and precise.

Rating: 10/10

Gameplay:

Now let's continue looking into the game.

SMB2 greatly differs from other games in the series. First of all, look at the HUD. There is no more timer and score, and now you get heart meter that shows how many HPs you have left. You can get extra HPs by collecting mushrooms, which are hidden in an alternate dimension call Subspace. You can enter Subspace by creating a door with a magic potion. In Subspace you can also get coins, which are used in the bonus game at the end of a level for extra lives. Another different thing is that you can't kill enemies by stomping them. If you jump on an enemy, you'll simply be standing on it. Instead, you kill them by throwing things at them. You can also pick up enemies and throw them around or use them as projectiles. You can take advantage of the fact that you can reposition and ride on your enemies in many situations.

smb2_20_zps74da20fb.png

The first transgender video game character ever.

At the end of each stage, you have to fight Birdo, who serves as the area's mini-boss. You can defeat her(?) by throwing the eggs she shoots at you back at her.

In some stages you'll stumble upon a locked door. In order to open it you'll have to find a key, but guarding it is one of the creepiest character in the video game history.

smb2_21_zps64386b39.png

The intimidating Phanto, the most traumatizing memory from my childhood.

No matter where you go, underground, in a jar, in Subspace, he'll chase you relentlessly until you let go of the key, or until you're dead. And you'll find that some of the levels are designed in a way that makes you think why they made the exit so far, far away.

Speaking of level design, SMB2 presents you with a variety of themed worlds. Each level offers you different and unique gameplay that won't make you bored. For example, in desert levels you'll have to jump over quicksands, enter pyramids and dig through layers of sand to the bottom, and in sky levels you'll climb vines and ride on magic carpets or on Albatosses's back. Each has its own distinct features and charms, like SMB3's levels. It's more than jumping from platform to platform to platform to yet another platform until you reach the finishing line.

smb2_22_zps5367db31.png

The tower.


Also, apart from the common side-scrolling format, SMB2 broke new ground by introducing a new dimension to the game, literally. Now there are some vertical scrolling areas where you have to scale or descend a tower with platforms and hanging chains while avoiding enemies. It was a new and refreshing idea that prevented the player from getting sick of the same old same old left-to-right gameplay.

And finally, the boss fights.

smb2_23_zpsef2e86e7.png

Mouser doesn't believe that he is just a mouse.

You'll be engaged in a face-off at the end of each world. The boss fights in SMB2 are fun. It's one area that SMB2 outdoes SMB3. Koopalings are cool and I sure love to have them around, but there is very small variation. It just feels like they came from the same blueprint. In SMB2, on the other hand, you get to fight 5 different bosses from 7 worlds. Each boss requires different approach and strategy. Even though 2 of them are rematches, overall it doesn't get repetitive.

Rating: 10/10

Difficulty:

There have been mixed opinions on how hard SMB2 is. Some say it's too hard and some say it's too easy. For me it's not too easy or too hard. I'd give it 5 out of 10 were it not for some factors.

First of all, the enemy respawning. Enemies in this game will respawn not when you leave the area and re-enter it, but as soon as the off-screen spawn points come in sight again. Sometimes you want to step back a little to dodge some fireballs or bullets that are coming at you, and when you go forward again, you find even more enemies to avoid. This makes the game unbelievably difficult in some parts. For example, the part where the Albatosses keep carpet bombing you with Bob-ombs. The respawning can be useful in some parts, where you need to utilize some enemies in order to progress. But in most situations it hinders more than it helps.

Second, the fact that you have only 2 continues leaves little room for mistakes and proves to be really challenging for beginners. Plus, you can't change your character during a level unless you lose all lives. If you happen to pick an unsuitable character, you might be in some deep trouble. 1-up mushrooms are rare and elusive. You can find them if you try hard enough but still they don't help much. The only other way to get extra lives is playing the bonus slot game at the end of each level, which relies on luck. I've heard that there are tricks for getting cherry (each cherry starting from the left column gives you an extra life). However, as far as I know, none of them has been confirmed. Anyway, if you can hoard a lot of coins then this problem isn't as bad as it sounds.

Finally, there is no save function in SMB2, a big regression considering that Doki Doki Panic has save function. This means you have to finish the game in one sitting. 20 areas aren't that many, but if you're a complete novice at platformer then that might be unlikely. Like the original SMB, though, there are warp spots that allow you to skip through the worlds, but to do that you have to find a magic potion, enter Subspace and enter a certain vase. The official manual doesn't mention anything about it. This method is so concealed there's no hope that one will learn about it without a combination of curiosity and a fluke (or a walkthrough).

Rating: 7/10

smb2_24_zpsc3cf8d26.png
smb2_25_zps5957dffa.png

Finally Mouser is defeated. The world beyond is waiting for you.

Conclusion:

I don't know if American gamers back then sucked so hard none of them would ever finish the true SMB2 (SMB: The Lost Levels), or if Nintendo's decision to mario-ize Doki Doki Panic is correct, but there's one thing I know: SMB2 is a fantastic game. I've wrote that it might be impossible for a beginner to complete it in one sitting, but for me, personally, I feel that this game is a bit too short. Maybe it's because I still want more of it. What I think is that SMB2 had potential and could have been a better game. With all the elements the game has in store, I feel there were still many more ideas the developer could have put into the game. Perhaps they already reached the limit of things they could put into one cartridge. I don't really know because I'm not good at technical stuff. Still, there are many new and inventive components in the game that have been implemented in later Mario games, e.g. the pick up and throw mechanic in GB's Donkey Kong and it's follow-up on GBA, Mario vs Donkey Kong. Its unique gameplay never gets old, and I find myself coming back to play it from time to time.

If you haven't played this game before, play it. You'll enjoy every second you spend on this game. Some shun this game because it's not "the real sequel", and I have to say I understand their feeling well. There have been some random crappy pieces of work that just borrow the names and elements of some existing great titles, because they can just use the names to attract customers for some quick cash grab. However, SMB2 is in no way just a crappy namesake. If anything, it's nothing short of classic, and as one of the earlier games in the main series, though not the very cornerstone, it served as a solid foundation for many Mario games that came after it.

Overall rating (not an average): 9.0/10 | Excellent
 
Last edited:
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2

tmnt2_1_zps44faa8f0.png


Released In: 1990
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Ultra Games


Ah, the childhood, the period when we were naive, curious, and really naughty, constantly bugging our parents and demanding their attention while they were working themselves all day for their sorry children. Sometimes we were so annoying that they couldn't get anything done at all. So what was a good way to keep their mischievous children occupied, keeping them distracted?

Have them glued to the TV screen by showing them some animated cartoon!

tmnt2_2_zps33ecc69f.jpg

What's up, doc?

I have seen many animated cartoon series since I was little, some of them crappy, some of them really impressive. Almost all of my favorites came from the golden age of American animation. The golden age isn't called the golden age for nothing. Felix the Cat, Tom and Jerry, Merry Melodies, every one of them is timeless. My most favorite is Looney Tunes. It isn't one of the best animated cartoons of all time. It is THE best animated cartoon of all time.

Then take a look at what we have to day.

Let's face it, cartoons produced these days are utter garbage. The trademark slapstick is now gone and it becomes heavy with meaningless conversations full of corny lines. A story full of humor that attempts to be humorous but isn't. Instead of shooting a gag at you when you let your guard down, you can now see it coming from miles away. Music fails to emphasize action and lend emotion. Computer animation looks horrible compared to traditional animation. And why do all the characters have to raise an eyebrow whenever they remark something? That doesn't make them look cool. That makes them look stupid. I hate everything about today's animation. It's an abomination. It's an insult to all the earlier cartoonists. Even today's Looney Tunes cartoon isn't that fun anymore. If the 30s is the golden age of animation, then the 2010s is the dark age of animation.

Well, *sigh* sorry for the rant. One's man poison is another man's meat, and you may find today's cartoons appealing. That was just my personal and honest opinion.

Anyway, when I was little, I had a chance to watch many titles, be it on air or on VHS. But that's not all. I also got to play NES game based on those titles. As a kid, I didn't know if the games were epic or crappy. I just thought it was cool that I would be able to play as those characters.

I've already watched the three golden age titles I mentioned above, Felix the Cat, Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes. All of them have their own video games on NES.

tmnt2_3_zps77a6ca77.png
tmnt2_4_zps2e730243.png
tmnt2_5_zps708ffbb4.png

The golden age.

Felix the Cat isn't a bad game, Tom and Jerry is okay, but Bugs Bunny games are bad.

tmnt2_6_zpsbda65727.png
tmnt2_7_zps899bcdf0.png

Those tie-ins aren't crappy like today's.

And we have Walt Disney's titles. I'm not a fan of Walt Disney and DuckTales is the only one I've watched. The game is great. I haven't watched Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers but I've played the game. It's great too.

tmnt2_8_zps52a565ee.png

Well, not all of them.

And there's The Addams Family. I didn't find the show funny. There are a lot of video games based on it, and they are crappy beyond belief.

tmnt2_9_zpsa5c39262.png

This one is epic.

And the obscure Captain Bucky O'Hare. I actually hadn't known about the show before I played the game. I have a lot to talk about this. I'll definitely review it one day.

And, finally, this. If you were born in the 80s, there's no way you haven't heard about this.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

tmnt2_10_zps86d426f4.jpg

Michelangelo asks himself what cowabunga means.

The story is about four anthropomorphic turtles that live in the sewers of New York City battling against the force of evil. The four turtles were named after renaissance artists, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael. The main villains are Shredder, the leader of a ninja clan Foot Clan, and the alien warlord Krang, who is a brain-like creature. It wasn't like the best cartoon out there, but TMNT was explosive. It was what pushed an unknown franchise into a cult. More often than not it was loaded with unnecessary comedy, but when it went into action, it was epic.

A significant part of my childhood was full of TMNT. There were TMNT products everywhere. Whenever there was a new character, they made action figures of it. Whenever the turtles had a new gadget, they made replicas of it. Even foods were associated with it. There were TMNT cereal, TMNT cookie, TMNT juice... the list of tie-ins went on and on. They were taking every opportunity to benefit from it. It was such a hype.

And, of course, this article wouldn't be complete without mentioning TMNT video games.

From the NES, to GB, to SNES. Many TMNT games were released. Today I'm looking at the NES port of the beat 'em up Arcade game.

Story directly copied and pasted from the official manual, because I'm lazy.

Welcome to the crime infested boroughs of New York, where one wrong look at the right person can be your last. But the turtles sleep contentedly, for they've made Manhattan a safer place for all. Especially since they've sent Shredder to the local landfill. Or so they think.

While dreams of pepperoni pizzas dance through their heads, the turtles' worst nightmares blast into Earth's atmosphere. Two intergalactic bounty hunters have been attracted by the price that Shredder has placed on the half shell heroes' heads. Shredder's alive and looking for payback!

Although the turtles tossed Shredder into the metal jaws of a garbage huck, titanium battle helmet protected his maniacal mind from being mauled. Upon awakening on a seabound garbage ship, Shredder vowed vengeance.

After floating back to land on a pile of non-biodegradable styrofoam Cups, Shredder began training a new breed of Foot Soldier. One that is better trained in the lethal art of Taekwondo. And one that will make the ultimate sacrifice to defend leader. But that was only the beginning. Shredder journeyed throughout the universe, via his Translocation Matrix Beam, recruiting the top bounty hunters. He chose two.

Tora is a ten foot, half ton blizzard beast who, in 2000 years, has never known defeat. Journeying from the distant ice planet of Traglodoon he has come to Earth needing only one weapon, his devastating claws. His partner in cosmic crime is Shogun, an inhabitant of Sector Six in the Dead Star Zone, and the mastermind behind the Ultimate Galactic Sword.

But that's not all, Folks. Shredder and his professional punishers have again captured April O'Neil and plan to use her as turtle bait. Fail to save this lovely journalist, and that's all she wrote!

Shredder's ten levels of terror, with a lethal leader at the end of each one, are the deadliest the turtles have ever had to face. Even if you survive the eight action riddled arcade arenas, you still must contend with the two new unbeatable bounty hunter stages. But the turtles stand ready to fight through this shell squashing mess.

For Splinter has taught these turtles to fight with the ferocity of a lion.

One interesting fact to know, they renamed the show Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in Europe, probably because of some controversy around nunchakus. Funny thing is, you can still clearly see Michelangelo using a nunchaku in the game. And while they succeeded to ban nunchakus, they failed to ban SWORDS.

So, let's see how well they managed to port an arcade game into a single NES cartridge.

With a short cutscene of the Turtles entering the Channel 6 building to rescue April, the game begins.

tmnt2_11_zps17fa62d2.png

We'll save you... and don't give a darn about anyone else.

Graphics:

TMNT2 isn't a perfect (as in identical) port. They had less color palettes, less-detailed and smaller sprites, and fewer on-screen enemies. However, the graphics aren't bad at all. The coloring and the animation were done well enough. The enemies you'll encounter are mostly Foot ninjas whose variations are only palette swaps. But there are other enemies as well. There's a variety of themed stages, which have their own backgrounds. Some of them even utilizes parallax scrolling. And when you finish a level, you get to watch a short cutscene. Personally, I think TMNT2's graphics are even better than TMNT3's.

tmnt2_12_zps480c3202.png
tmnt2_13_zps2a7ce6ca.png

Like Metal Gear Solid 3's Cobra Unit, they have microbombs planted in their bodies.

As a side note, all Foot ninjas explode when they're defeated. This is because the game is based on the television series in which all Foot ninjas are robots. Because it's for kids and no one is supposed to die.

And what's with the Pizza Hut commercials lying everywhere?

tmnt2_14_zps7d0593e2.png
tmnt2_15_zpseeba2de3.png
tmnt2_16_zps6c456cf5.png

Make it great.

Well, that's because Pizza Hut engaged in a $20 million marketing campaign to promote the 1990 TMNT film. I don't know if the game was included in that same deal or it was a separate deal. There were even Pizza Hut coupons in the game's manual.

Rating: 9/10

Control:

Well, nothing to say much. The control is very simple. A for jumping, B for attacking and D-pad for moving.

There are 3 types of attacks. B for normal attack. B while your turtle is in midair for jump kick. A, then immediately B as soon as your turtle's feet leave the ground for jump slash. The jump slash attack is your strongest attack, but it takes some time to master.

I'd have given it a higher score if there weren't only 3 moves. More on this when I talk about gameplay.

Rating: 7/10

Gameplay:

Let's start.

The turtle only have cosmetic differences. Just pick the one you like.

Like most beat 'em up, you have to fight a group of enemies. You have to beat them all in order to advance. Sure it gets repetitive, but that's the nature of beat 'em up. I can't be too harsh on that. If I have to criticize the game for being repetitive, I have to criticize the whole genre too.

tmnt2_17_zps4b4d174b.png

Normal Foot soldiers.

The enemies come at you 3 at a time. They're smart enough to try to surround you. You can't just mash the B button hacking away and hope to get away unscathed, because the enemies have a short invincibility time after taking damage, and you don't. Most of the time you'll be using jump slash attack, because it can dispatch a Foot ninja in one hit. But the jump slash attack is slow. If you use it against a boss, which doesn't die with just one hit, you won't have enough time to back away. Therefore the gameplay is limited to using jump slash attack on common enemies and normal attack on bosses. It makes the already one-dimensional gameplay even more one-dimensional.

tmnt2_18_zps28a15263.png
tmnt2_19_zps02bc05d7.png

The snow level.

Occasionally you'll have to dodge obstacles like falling boulders or lasers. Some come at you randomly. There are also some objects that you can exploit, like street posts or road cones that you can launch at enemies, or exploding barrels.

tmnt2_21_zps634ba504.png

Roadkill Rodneys.

Sometimes you have to fight enemies other than Foot ninjas, like those annoying Roadkill Rodneys. Those enemies are usually tougher than Foot ninjas. You have to observe their movement patterns well.

tmnt2_22_zps2602c04c.png

If I found a pizza lying around randomly on the street, I wouldn't eat it.

Collecting a pizza will replenish your health. It is the only healing item and has to be consumed on the spot. Well, keeping it would make the game too easy.

And finally, the boss fights. Compared to the underlings the bosses are the real deal. You'll die, and you'll die a lot.

tmnt2_23_zpsc08921a5.png
tmnt2_24_zps628e87c8.png

The incompetent duo.

tmnt2_25_zpscdd9aaec.png

The boss will start flashing when he's about to kick the bucket.

Well, not if you've learned their movement patterns. The bosses aren't too hard if you don't rush. The first two bosses, Rocksteady and Bebop, are easy, but as you go on and on, the bosses will get tougher and hit harder. You have to know when to strike and when to retreat.

tmnt2_26_zpsac28be04.png
tmnt2_27_zps005a5ceb.png

Shredder and Krang. I love to see these two at each other's throats in the cartoon.

The final fight is a pain. Shredder is tough but he isn't difficult if you can stay cool. The real problem is Krang. His seemingly erratic and random pattern will give you a headache. There seems to be no way to get away without taking damage.

One thing I forgot to mention is that Konami added two new stages for the NES version and introduced two NES exclusive villains, the space bounty hunters Tora and Shogun. This adds more value to the original game as well as new plot points. They also changed the Rocksteady and Bebop rematch to the NES exclusive Dr. Stockman (fly-form) boss fight.

All in all, there's nothing much to complain about, except that it suffers heavily from the lack of gameplay diversity. Even though each boss came equipped with different moves and attacks, the same hit-and-run strategy will almost always work.

Rating: 6/10

Audio:

The soundtrack is impressive. Even though some tracks are just remixes of the famous animation theme song, the others suit the levels' atmosphere well, especially the Technodrome theme. It is absolutely fitting for the final showdown.

The sound effects are done well. Some of them are just the recycling of other Konami games', but it wasn't uncommon in the industry back then.

Rating: 8/10

Difficulty:

Yeah, the game can be pretty challenging if you don't know what you're doing. It becomes considerably easier once you grasps the pattern of each boss, and you'll probably only lose lives against some really hard boss, like General Tragg or Krang. You get an extra life for every 200 points, which is a reasonable rate, and you have 3 continues in store, plenty for a game with only 10 levels. In two-player mode, if you lose all lives, you can borrow one from your friend by pressing A.

If you still find it unbeatable, there are useful codes for stage select and/or 10 lives.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion:

tmnt2_28_zpsd270eafe.png

Yeah, the game doesn't stay faithful to the animated series. We all know the Technodrome DOESN'T get destroyed.

To sum up, TMNT2 is a great port. Instead of making a direct port, Konami spiced it up with new elements. They did it very well within a home console's limitation. Even if I don't compare it to the Arcade version, this game is still good and enjoyable. TMNT2 is arguably the best TMNT game for the NES. It was fun to take the role of one of my beloved cartoon characters and take the matter of beating those villains into my own hand. Well, it's because I love the animated series so much in the first place that I enjoy the game so much. And I enjoy it more when I play it with someone who shares the same love. TMNT 2 is one of the best co-op experiences on the NES. It's a pity that the NES version cannot utilize the NES Four Score. Imagine how fun it would be if you could play it with another 3 players.

Well, after all, the game owes its massive popularity to the animated series. It was what kicked the name TMNT into the light with a bang. Long after the series ended, another animated series kicked off in 2003, but it just didn't give the same feel anymore as it tried to stay true to the original comic's darker tone. I stopped caring about the franchise at that point. Not that it's terrible or anything, but, I mean, I grew up with the 1987 series. Everyone grew up with the 1987 series. No one even knew what the original comic had been like before it. Most TMNT video games back then weren't based on the original comic, but on it. The light-hearted nonchalant turtles were my heroes. I hope someone gives me another TMNT like the first animated series.

tmnt2_29_zps5a592d3e.jpg

Face the wrath of Krang!

Krang was epic. He's a villain that deserves another chance!

Overall rating (not an average): 7.5/10 | Nice
 
Last edited:
3. Contra

contra_0_zps3a3b82bb.png


Released In: 1988
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami


Imagine yourself browsing around in a retro gaming store, looking for a good NES game to buy. Then suddenly your eyes stumble on one particular box.

contra_1_zpsc4751d7f.jpg

!

What's this? This box art looks awfully familiar.

contra_2_zps9a4713ca.jpg
contra_3_zps2d61f4d1.jpg

The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Aren't they Major Dutch and John Rambo? Are they joining forces to fend off Xenomorphs' invasion? Characters from three awesome action movies in a single cartridge? Now doesn't that look promising?

But this all must be pure and sheer coincidence. No way is a famous game developer like Konami plagiarizing other people's work, right? Right?

Another notable fact is that Contras was the name given to the anti-communist rebel groups in Nicaragua around the time of its release. And one of the game's themes, Sandinista, was named after their opposition. Did I see some connection here?

In order to avoid any connection to that, and to ensure that it can be released in Germany, which has strict laws against violence, the European version was renamed Probotector, and all in-game human sprites were replaced with robot ones.

contra_4_zpsad24a7ae.png

[Insert R2-D2's voice here].

Not much more backstory to talk about. Let's just grab a gun and shoot some aliens.

Story directly copied and pasted from the official manual, because I'm lazy.

In 1957 a large object from outer space crashed into Earth's Amazon basin, near ruins of the lost Mayan civilization. Scientists world-wide heralded the incident as a trivial cosmic occurrence, and thus the collision was soon forgotten.

Now, thirty years later, rumors of an evil force have swept into the Pentagon's front office, and tales from frightened villagers of a hideous being with an army of alien henchmen are sending chills down the spines of top military brass.

Unwilling to upset current political stability, an all-out assault on the region has been overruled, and instead, two of America's most cunning, courageous and ruthless soldiers from the Special Forces elite commando squad have been selected to seek out and destroy these alien intruders.

Congratulations, pal, you're one of the chosen. But before you take pride in being the best, be warned.

You're about to come face to face against Red Falcon, the cruelest life-form in the galaxy. He arrived on Earth thirty years ago (that's six months time in an alien's life) to establish a foothold from which he will attempt to conquer our world and then use it as a stepping stone toward his ultimate fiendish goal: domination of the entire universe.

Needless to say, playing hero won't be easy. But you have no choice -- you must be a hero. Because if you fail, life as we know it will cease to exist, and the vile Red Falcon will rule forever.

If you succeed, well...it doesn't matter, because I doubt you will.

Now there's a difference here. The American version manual says the story happens in the Amazon, but the Japanese version says it happens near New Zealand. It's not very important though.

The title screen.

contra_0_zps3a3b82bb.png

Arnold and Sylvester.

Difficulty:

Let me warn you beforehand that Contra is pretty difficult. You have only 3 lives to beat the game and everything will kill you in one hit. Enemies will come raining bullets at you from left and right, above and below. Common soldiers will only be running at you at first, but in later stages they'll start firing at you, and near the end of the game they'll be smart enough to duck and shoot. When you feel relieved and think that you're already past the hardest part, something will suddenly appear and shoot you in the face. You have to stay alert all the time. You can receive extra lives for getting certain scores, but you'll never have enough of them.

For those who want help, there's the famous Konami code. Yes, this game is the reason the Konami code got popularized. You can punch it in here at the title screen. It'll grant you 30 lives.

There is also a stage select code, but it is exclusive only to the Japanese version.

Rating: 8/10

Control:

A to jump, B to shoot, and D-pad to aim and move. Down to duck, A while ducking to drop down to the lower platform.

Control is simple and smooth, but I have one complain about how to aim your gun. If you want to aim diagonally, you'll also have to move, because you'll be holding left or right button. Also, if you want to shoot directly down, you'll have to jump first, because if you hold down and press B, you'll simply be ducking and shooting forward.

Rating: 8/10

Gameplay:

contra_5_zps86915953.png

Bullets, bullets everywhere.

Contra is a run and gun game. The goal of the game is simple, to go forward and shoot at enemies.

contra_6_zps1df6c594.png

Weapon of Mass Destruction.

You start off with a crappy pea shooter. To get power-ups, you have to shoot flying weapon capsules or pillboxes with falcon insignia. There are several types of power-ups. The most powerful is laser gun, but usually the best is spread gun as it covers a large area. Most guns shoot in a straight line so you have to align yourself with your target, which can put you in a risky situation, but with a spread gun you can easily destroy your enemies from a safe spot. For me, it's pretty unbalanced. But then you're expected to eventually die and lose your spread gun, so most of the time you have no choice and the imbalance doesn't matter.

contra_9_zps2aa85191.png

Why doesn't he just jump?

The game features two third-person shooter levels, in which you have to get rid of the electric currents blocking your path by destroying the power cores. You can duck to avoid all the bullet hails coming at you, but you have to look out for grenadiers and rolling barrels as well. In these two stages, killing red soldiers will give you power-ups.

contra_10_zps2c20576b.png

These spiked walls are sentient.

Sometimes there are traps which suddenly spring on you, like the camouflaged turrets in stage 1. Enemies will come from every direction. You have to stay vigilant all the time. You'll only succeed if you have good reflexes.

contra_11_zps4837c01b.png

The alien's lair is like a walk in the park.

(With all that said, though, the final stage is a piece of cake compared to the rest of the game because of the fact that there are no endless waves of soldiers that keep spawning and coming at you. There are only stationary enemies and some pits. It's even easier than stage 1. What a letdown for the ending act.)

contra_12_zpsa5ae2a7e.png

A huge computer boss, with an epic song.

At the end of each stage, you'll face a boss. Contra's bosses are huge. You'll have to fight things like a fortress, some kind of spaceship, and a giant robot. They have a variety of attacks which you must learn to avoid. However, they are relatively easy compared to the stages themselves.

Well, that pretty much covers it all. The game is very simple (as in, simple to play, not simple to finish). It doesn't require you to learn any overly complicated moves to master it, and it's very enjoyable.

But that's not the end. There's still more!

With two-player mode, you can play with a friend!

The co-op mode will bring you a totally new experience. Normally, one would think that things will get easier with two guns, right? Well, no. In this mode, in addition to helping each other, you can also foil each other.

contra_13_zpsc765aaac.png

"A spread gun. I'll have it!" "No, I will!"

contra_14_zps47f863e8.png
contra_15_zps942b2068.png

"You are my life."

contra_17_zps4f20e33e.png

"Hasta la vista, baby."

contra_18_zps0ca8d407.png

Here, player two prevents the screen from scrolling so player one hits the invisible wall midway and falls down the pit.

Fun, right?

Anyway, in order to be successful, you have to have very good teamwork. The two of you have to cover each other's back and let each other have appropriate power-ups. You can't go too far ahead of your partner, because the screen won't scroll onward and it can be dangerous. Also, if you go too fast in the vertical-scrolling stage, your partner will fall to the death below.

When it's game over for you and your partner has some spare lives, you can borrow one from him, as shown in the picture above.

Overall, playing Contra with a friend is very fun, and you might want to try it if you have someone to play with.

Rating: 9/10

Graphics:

Contra has vivid colors, smooth animations, well-designed enemies and various level themes. Nothing much to say really, because there's nothing to complain about.

contra_19_zpse4af7605.png

Notice the red bullet.

Even with all those bullets flying around, the game still does well in displaying all the details on the screen. You won't get confused because you can clearly see what’s happening around you. For instance, in the snow field level where the backgrounds are mostly white, you'll see that it uses a distinct color for projectiles.

contra_20_zpsff536641.png
contra_21_zps17922b66.png

The map and a cutscene.

The Japanese version is even better. It features cutscenes and a map of the island displaying the player's current location before each stage. There are also additional background animations, like swaying trees and snowstorm. Furthermore, the US version only gives you a congratulatory message after you beat the game, but the Japanese version includes a secret ending message, which can be deciphered by holding down both Select and Start button before the staff roll.

Rating: 10/10

Audio:

The music sets an appropriate atmosphere for each stage and draws you into the mood quite easily. The ominous Base theme warns you to stay away, The Boss theme tells you that your worst nightmare just materialized in front of you, and the Jungle/Hangar theme... It's just... It's just timeless.

However, I have a thing to say about sound effects. Most of them are good, but some are just strange. It's not terrible, but they just don't sound right. For example, shot impacts really sound like rubber bands, fireballs sound like lasers and lasers sound like fireballs, and the sound when you die is like... I don't know, but it just sounds weird. Maybe the developer wanted to produce a screaming sound except that it just doesn't sound like a human scream. If octopuses could scream, that would be the kind of sound they make.

Rating: 7/10

contra_22_zps2767cc1c.png

Some day, Red Falcon will be back. Some day.

Conclusion:
The first Contra game on the NES was very well-received thanks to its two-player mode. There were already a number of games that offered a two-player mode back then, such as Joust, Devil World or Mario Bros, but Contra was incomparable. I remember playing it with my friends when I was little, and I had never experienced anything like that before. The co-op game was incredibly fun in many ways. Back then we were just kids, so we often did stupid and meaningless things like trying to kill each other, but when we were really serious about beating the game, it was no less fun either. We gradually learned to play as a team, improving little by little... Well, in the end, it was still too difficult and we had to resort to the Konami code.

Anyway, even though Contra is difficult, it's far from being frustrating thanks to its fluid gameplay. When you lose a life, you're immediately revived on the spot. Even though you're dying a lot, it's not because of bad design. It's simply because you're still not good enough. Contra isn't the kind of game that fills you with anger and makes you feel the urge to break the cartridge into a million pieces. It's the kind of game that makes you want to try again and again no matter how many times you've died. Contra's difficulty isn't its downside, but rather its charm. You'll die but you'll want to improve yourself, and you'll go through the learning phase. Even though the game has unlimited continues and the Konami code proves quite handy, beating the game with only 3 lives and without using a single continue will be quite a remarkable achievement.

After a very long time, I started playing Contra again in order to write this review, and I was finally able to do it. It was my first time ever finishing Contra with just 3 lives and no continue. It was such a great feeling that made me trembling with fulfillment. It made me feel like I was on the very top of the world.

Overall rating (not an average): 9.0/10 | Excellent
 
Last edited:
3. Contra

contra_0_zps3a3b82bb.png


Released In: 1988
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami


Imagine yourself browsing around in a retro gaming store, looking for a good NES game to buy. Then suddenly your eyes stumble on one particular box.

contra_1_zpsc4751d7f.jpg

!

What's this? This box art looks awfully familiar.

contra_2_zps9a4713ca.jpg
contra_3_zps2d61f4d1.jpg

The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Aren't they Major Dutch and John Rambo? Are they joining forces to fend off Xenomorphs' invasion? Characters from three awesome action movies in a single cartridge? Now doesn't that look promising?

But this all must be pure and sheer coincidence. No way is a famous game developer like Konami plagiarizing other people's work, right? Right?

Another notable fact is that Contras was the name given to the anti-communist rebel groups in Nicaragua around the time of its release. And one of the game's themes, Sandinista, was named after their opposition. Did I see some connection here?

In order to avoid any connection to that, and to ensure that it can be released in Germany, which has strict laws against violence, the game was renamed Probotector, and all in-game human sprites were replaced with robot ones.

contra_4_zpsad24a7ae.png

[Insert R2-D2's voice here].

Not much more backstory to talk about. Let's just grab a gun and shoot some aliens.

Story directly copied and pasted from the official manual, because I'm lazy.

In 1957 a large object from outer space crashed into Earth's Amazon basin, near ruins of the lost Mayan civilization. Scientists world-wide heralded the incident as a trivial cosmic occurrence, and thus the collision was soon forgotten.

Now, thirty years later, rumors of an evil force have swept into the Pentagon's front office, and tales from frightened villagers of a hideous being with an army of alien henchmen are sending chills down the spines of top military brass.

Unwilling to upset current political stability, an all-out assault on the region has been overruled, and instead, two of America's most cunning, courageous and ruthless soldiers from the Special Forces elite commando squad have been selected to seek out and destroy these alien intruders.

Congratulations, pal, you're one of the chosen. But before you take pride in being the best, be warned.

You're about to come face to face against Red Falcon, the cruelest life-form in the galaxy. He arrived on Earth thirty years ago (that's six months time in an alien's life) to establish a foothold from which he will attempt to conquer our world and then use it as a stepping stone toward his ultimate fiendish goal: domination of the entire universe.

Needless to say, playing hero won't be easy. But you have no choice -- you must be a hero. Because if you fail, life as we know it will cease to exist, and the vile Red Falcon will rule forever.

If you succeed, well...it doesn't matter, because I doubt you will.

Now there's a difference here. The American version manual says the story happens in the Amazon, but the Japanese version says it happens near New Zealand. It's not much important though.

The title screen.

contra_0_zps3a3b82bb.png

Arnold and Sylvester.

Difficulty:

Let me warn you beforehand that Contra is pretty difficult. You have only 3 lives to beat the game and everything will kill you in one hit. Enemies will come raining bullets at you from left and right, above and below. Common soldiers will only be running at you at first, but in later stages they'll start firing at you, and near the end of the game they'll be smart enough to duck and shoot. When you feel relieved and think that you're already past the hardest part, something will suddenly appear and shoot you in the face. You have to stay alert all the time. You can receive extra lives for getting certain scores, but you'll still want more of them.

For those who want help, there's the famous Konami code. Yes, this game is the reason the Konami code got popularized. You can punch it in here at the title screen. It'll grant you 30 lives.

There is also a stage select code, but it is exclusive only to the Japanese version.

Rating: 8/10

Control:

A to jump, B to shoot, and D-pad to aim and move. Down to duck, A while ducking to drop down to the lower platform.

Control is simple and smooth, but I have one complain about how to aim your gun. If you want to aim diagonally, you'll also have to move, because you'll be holding left or right button. Also, if you want to shoot directly down, you'll have to jump first, because if you hold down and press B, you'll simply be ducking and shooting forward.

Rating: 8/10

Gameplay:

contra_5_zps86915953.png

Bullets, bullets everywhere.

Contra is a run and gun game. The goal of the game is simple, to go forward and shoot at enemies.

contra_6_zps1df6c594.png

Weapon of Mass Destruction.

You start off with a crappy pea shooter. To get power-ups, you have to shoot flying weapon capsules or pillboxes with falcon insignia. There are several types of power-ups. The most powerful is laser gun, but usually the best is spread gun as it covers a large area. Most guns shoot in a straight line so you have to align yourself with your target, which can put you in a risky situation, but with a spread gun you can easily destroy your enemies from a safe spot. For me, it's pretty unbalanced. But then you're expected to eventually die and lose your spread gun, so most of the time you have no choice and the imbalance doesn't matter.

contra_9_zps2aa85191.png

Why doesn't he just jump?

The game features two third-person shooter levels, in which you have to get rid of the electric currents blocking your path by destroying the power cores. You can duck to avoid all the bullet hails coming at you, but you have to look out for grenadiers and rolling barrels as well. In these two stages, killing red soldiers will give you power-ups.

contra_10_zps2c20576b.png

These spiked walls are sentient.

Sometimes there are traps which suddenly spring on you, like the camouflaged turrets in stage 1. Enemies will come from every direction. You have to stay vigilant all the time. You'll only succeed if you have good reflexes.

contra_11_zps4837c01b.png

The alien's lair is like a walk in the park.

(With all that said, though, the final stage is a piece of cake compared to the rest of the game because of the fact that there are no endless waves of soldiers that keep spawning and coming at you. There are only stationary enemies and some pits. It's even easier than stage 1. What a letdown for the ending act.)

contra_12_zpsa5ae2a7e.png

A huge computer boss, with an epic song.

At the end of each stage, you'll face a boss. Contra's bosses are huge. You'll have to fight things like a fortress, some kind of spaceship, and a giant robot. They have a variety of attacks which you must learn to avoid. However, they are relatively easy compared to the stages themselves.

Well, that pretty much covers it all. The game is very simple (as in, simple to play, not simple to finish). It doesn't require you to learn any overly complicated moves to master it, and it's very enjoyable.

But that's not the end. There's still more!

With two-player mode, you can play with a friend!

The co-op mode will bring you a totally new experience. Normally, one would think that things will get easier with two guns, right? Well, no. In this mode, in addition to helping each other, you can also foil each other.

contra_13_zpsc765aaac.png

"A spread gun. I'll have it!" "No, I will!"

contra_14_zps47f863e8.png
contra_15_zps942b2068.png

"You are my life."

contra_17_zps4f20e33e.png

"Hasta la vista, baby."

contra_18_zps0ca8d407.png

Here, player two prevents the screen from scrolling so player one hits the invisible wall midway and falls down the pit.

Fun, right?

Anyway, in order to be successful, you have to have very good teamwork. The two of you have to cover each other's back and let each other have appropriate power-ups. You can't go too far ahead of your partner, because the screen won't scroll onward and it can be dangerous. Also, if you go too fast in the vertical-scrolling stage, your partner will fall to the death below.

When it's game over for you and your partner has some spare lives, you can borrow one from him, as shown in the picture above.

Overall, playing Contra with a friend is very fun, and you might want to try it if you have someone to play with.

Rating: 9/10

Graphics:

Contra has vivid colors, smooth animations, well-designed enemies and various level themes. Nothing much to say really, because there's nothing to complain about.

contra_19_zpse4af7605.png

Notice the red bullet.

Even with all those bullets flying around, the game still does well in displaying all the details on the screen. You won't get confused because you can clearly see what’s happening around you. For instance, in the snow field level where the backgrounds are mostly white, you'll see that it uses a distinct color for projectiles.

contra_20_zpsff536641.png
contra_21_zps17922b66.png

The map and a cutscene.

The Japanese version is even better. It features cutscenes and a map of the island displaying the player's current location before each stage. There are also additional background animations, like swaying trees and snowstorm. Furthermore, the US version only gives you a congratulatory message after you beat the game, but the Japanese version includes a secret ending message, which can be deciphered by holding down both Select and Start button before the staff roll.

Rating: 10/10

Audio:

The music sets an appropriate atmosphere for each stage and draws you into the mood quite easily. The ominous Base theme warns you to stay away, The Boss theme tells you that your worst nightmare just materialized in front of you, and the Jungle/Hangar theme... It's just... It's just timeless.

However, I have a thing to say about sound effects. Most of them are good, but some are just strange. It's not terrible, but they just don't sound right. For example, shot impacts really sound like rubber bands, fireballs sound like lasers and lasers sound like fireballs, and the scream when you die sounds like... I don't know, but it just sounds weird. Maybe the developer wanted to produce a screaming sound except that it just doesn't sound like a human scream. If octopuses could scream, that would be the kind of sound they make.

Rating: 7/10

contra_22_zps2767cc1c.png

Some day, Red Falcon will be back. Some day.

Conclusion:
The first Contra game on the NES was very well-received thanks to its two-player mode. There were already a number of games that offered a two-player mode back then, such as Joust, Devil World or Mario Bros, but Contra was incomparable. I remember playing it with my friends when I was little, and I had never experienced anything like that before. The co-op game was incredibly fun in many ways. Back then we were just kids, so we often did stupid and meaningless things like trying to kill each other, but when we were really serious about beating the games, it was no less fun either. We gradually learned to play as a team, improving little by little... Well, in the end, it was still too difficult and we had to resort to the Konami code.

Anyway, even though Contra is difficult, it's far from being frustrating thanks to its fluid gameplay. When you lose a life, you're immediately revived on the spot. Even though you're dying a lot, it's not because of bad design. It's simply because you're still not good enough. Contra isn't the kind of game that fills you with anger and makes you feel the urge to break the cartridge into a million pieces. It's the kind of game that makes you want to try again and again no matter how many times you've died. Contra's difficulty isn't its downside, but rather its charm. You'll die but you'll want to improve yourself, and you'll go through the learning phase. Even though the game has unlimited continues and the Konami code proves quite handy, beating the game with only 3 lives and without using a single continue will be quite a remarkable achievement.

After a very long time, I started playing Contra again in order to write this review, and I was finally able to do it. It was my first time ever finishing Contra with just 3 lives and no continue. It was such a great feeling that made me trembling with fulfillment. It made me feel like I was on the very top of the world.

Overall rating (not an average): 9.0/10 | Excellent

I still remember the Contra Code lol
 
  • Like
Reactions: lconklejean
lol...just trying to play it again yesterday and dead at base stage:dead:...should played by two player=/
 
  • Like
Reactions: lconklejean
Neat thread. I never got to play much in the NES era, but I have lots of good memories (and got an emulator a few days ago so I could play more) with the SNES era of consoles. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: lconklejean
4. Dragon Warrior

dw_0_zps56f8587e.png


Released In: 1989
Developer: Enix
Publisher: Nintendo


Actually, I don't like reviewing long games, because long games take forever to complete. Otherwise it wouldn't be long games. But, well, let's just do it for a change. Let's look at a Japanese role-playing game.

Japanese role-playing games, abbreviated to JRPGs, differs from traditional western RPGs. While their counterparts have highly customizable characters, real-time battles and more open-world stages, JRPGs usually feature story-driven characters, menu-driven battles and more linear plots. Perhaps the first name that naturally comes to people's mind is Final Fantasy, but other titles like Persona, Suikoden and Star Ocean are worth mentioning as well.

dw_1_zpsd8693a16.png

My most favorite SNES RPG.

The 16-bit era was the time when JRPGs really flourished. It was the time we started to see great storytelling. It was a huge upgrade from the 8-bit era, as many more things were allowed to be put into the game. Earthbound, Super Mario RPG and Chrono Trigger are all considered classics. It also can't be denied that the genre owed its critical success to the JRPG powerhouse, Square. Many of their RPGs were so, so good.

Today I'll be looking at the ancestor of all JRPGs, the game that gave birth to this new amazing genre. Of course you realize, it's Dragon Quest, also known as Dragon Warrior in America.

dw_2_zpsdc41ad62.png

Portopia.

The idea of Dragon Warrior came after the developers first saw the RPG Wizardry and Ultima while they were making a PC visual novel named Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (The Portopia Serial Murder Incident). They applied Wizardry's dungeon-crawling mechanic and Ultima's overhead movement to Portopia's menu-based command system. The result was a crossbreed, Dragon Warrior.

The geneology of most, if not all, JRPGs go back to Dragon Warrior. Dragon Warrior was the very beginning of the genre. It was the granddaddy of them all.

Let's get a spoonful of this primordial soup and have a taste.

Control:

A to select an option, B to cancel, D-pad to move character/cursor. The control is quite stiff. You have to hold the button long enough or your character won't move.

The menu interface was brought from Portopia, a visual novel. It's tedious to have to access this menu whenever I want to interact with someone or something. But considering that this is the first game of its kind, I think I can overlook this, a little.

Rating: 6/10

Gameplay:

The evil Dragonlord stole the Ball of Light and brought darkness upon the land. It is up to you to go defeat him. Good enough.

dw_3_zps215eb065.png

Like all lazy parents who think that thinking of new names is a nuisance, I'll name him... Frank!

First, I have to name the hero.

Now there's some hidden mechanics. Here, how you name your character affects his starting stats and growth, even though only marginally. My guess is that they wanted to make it look like the numbers are randomly generated, but there's actually a formula behind it. If you aren't that fussy, it's safe to ignore it.

Now off to adventure.

dw_4_zps2027a33d.png

Let's travel around the world instead of making a boat.

The Dragonlord's castle is there just at the other side of the river. It's so close but you can't reach it. I like how the game teases you. It's like a mean brat bullying a caged wounded animal from the other side of the bars.

dw_5_zps244ec8c9.png

Not much news here...

The local village doesn't have much news to offer. In fact, the game rarely tells you which direction you should go. You just have to explore and, when you come across a town or a cave, hope to find some useful items or information.

I guess I'll just have to go north.

dw_6_zps15d2faa8.png

The battle screen.

Oh, a Ghost. I'll just quickly dispatch it.

The battle interface is very simple. You have an option to fight, cast spell, use item or run away. The window to the left shows you remaining HP and MP. It would help if it also showed your max HP and MP though. The lower window displays the results of your actions.

Now, to take care of that Ghost...

dw_7_zps0ae89265.png

What?

dw_8_zpse809259f.png

What?

dw_9_zps7eb805b5.png

What!?

Okay, I'm not even that far from the starting castle, yet the monster there crushed me like a bug.

This is the first bad thing about Dragon Warrior. Go too far, and you're minced. You can't wander too far from the current area. You have to level up your character first. Only when you're certain that your character is strong enough not to die horrendously, you can proceed to the next area.

Now then, I died but let's try this again. I'll just loiter around the castle, waiting for some weak enemy to show up.

dw_101_zps7749065d.png

Oh, a slime. Now there's no way I'm going to lose.

dw_102_zps1ac557ea.png

Yay! ...What? 1 EXP?

Killing a Slime gives you 1 EXP and you need 7 EXP to get to the next level, which means you have to kill 7 of them before you can get stronger.

And the encounter rate is so low. It takes like a whole minute to find just one Slime.

dw_11_zpse351ea82.png

I'm so glad that I'm crying blood.

At last, a new level is acquired, but everything has gone red. This can't be good.

This indicates that your HP is critically low. Yo can replenish your health by sleeping at the inn.

dw_12_zps73b3d8c9.png

Highway robbery.

What? 6 Gold? Great. All the Gold I got from those Slime, gone.

Let's look on the bright side, with a LV2 hero, now I can proceed to kill that Ghost!

dw_13_zps48756a29.png

Yay...

Well, I won, but now I'm all bruised and battered. I have to go back to the inn again. I wonder if the innkeeper and those monsters are conspiring against me.

In the end, EXP and Gold aren't worth it. If I want to save Gold and not spend all at the inn it's better to keep fighting the weak Slimes until I get another level. But I need another 16 EXP, which means fighting 16 Slimes. *sigh*

dw_14_zps07cbf9c8.png

What do we have here?

Finally, another level. But wait, this time I've learned a new spell!

This is another thing I like about Dragon Warrior. You learn a new spell when you reach a certain level. It's kind of fun to see what spell you could unlock. It's like passing another milestone on a long journey. It makes grinding in this game more fun, if not less boring.

Anyway, a healing spell in this game isn't as useful as you might think it would be. Since you'll always fight by yourself and never have another party member, you can only have one action per turn. So if you choose to heal, it means you lose a turn to attack and while you're healing, the enemy still has its turn to attack you. This makes healing during battle always less effective than healing outside battle.

Now I feel the power! Monsters like Ghosts and Drakees are no problem anymore. I think I can take on some stronger enemy. Bring it on!

dw_15_zpscc52a30d.png

Here it comes!

dw_16_zpsb2220c7b.png

What!?

dw_17_zpsee9f0256.png

WHAT!? Again!?

What!? I just died again! Even though I can kill most monsters around the starting area with ease now, the next area has monsters that are much, much, much stronger.

Well, back to the grinding I guess...

dw_18_zps8ab71f10.png

Payback time!

Now I'm back with my LV4 hero, with a new attack spell! Let's get that accursed Scorpion!

dw_19_zps81e6bb46.png

Yay......

Well, it was pretty tough. I had to use the Hurt spell a few times to defeat it. Since it's so tough, this means I get to have a lot of EXP, right?

dw_20_zps0ba55921.png

What?

6 EXP? You gotta be kidding me! The Scorpion is like 10 times stronger than the Ghost, and I only get 2 times the Ghost's EXP?

dw_202_zps62086e7f.png

The spell is so unbalanced.

The Magician is even worse. It takes out about one-third of my HP in one hit, but yields only 5 EXP!

From this point on, I won't bother showing you more screenshots anymore. The game will keep continuing like this. Every time you set foot into a new area, the monsters' strength increases exponentially, but EXP gained from them doesn't. You'll need more and more EXP for each level too. But with the wee amount of EXP you get, you'll have to spend an astronomical quantity of time grinding and grinding and grinding and grinding and grinding. I mean, I'm posting all these pictures just to show you how tedious it is.

That's what Dragon Warrior is about. Grinding. Go out to grind, go back to heal, go out to grind, go back to heal, and the cycle goes on until you're strong enough and have money to spend on proper equipment. Then you go to the next area, and the cycle repeats again. 95% of the time you'll be grinding. It isn't even remotely fun. Dragon warrior could have been fun if they had made all the numbers more practical, like getting a level after fighting an equally matched monster only four or five times, not dozens. And the monsters are so hard that I have to grind to survive. Grinding should be an option, not a necessity. You ought to grind because you want an easier fight, not because you want a doable fight.

In the end, only the most patient player will be able to defeat the Dragonlord. But I say in addition to utmost patience, you also need extreme tolerance. It doesn't need any other skills to play this game. Planning, no. Perception, no. Reflexes, no. Just patience, and tolerance.

The part where the princess keeps saying, "But Thou must," the part where the Dragonlord offers you half of the world, I won't bother playing through that anymore. I have better things to spend my time on.

Rating: 3/10

Graphics:

dw_21_zps62e3d992.png

The wilderness.

Dragon Warrior's graphics are so-so. It uses the same kind of tile for the same kind of terrain. The patterns are unvarying and undetailed. Apart from villages and dungeons, there is no other landmark. If you don't remember the path, you can get lost.

There are various kinds of monsters in the world. The famous Toriyama Akira is the character designer. I dislike him for his derivative and stale designs. I might be a little subjective here but I think they actually look better when they're pixelated.

Well, for a game released in 1986 (in Japan), the graphics aren't that bad, but you'll easily grow weary of them.

Rating: 6/10

Music:

The monophonic music of Dragon Warrior isn't particularly good either. The music consists of several tracks. Most are jingles in sharp tone that threatens to penetrate your eardrums and impair your hearing if you turn the volume too high. Every one of them doesn't last long before looping back, so it'll get repetitive. Especially the battle theme, because of the fact that you'll have to fight countless battles.

dw_22_zps4af9d418.png

I can sense the lurking horror.

There's one thing to mention about the Dungeon theme though. Even though the track itself isn't much better than the rest, I love how the developers have it play differently depending on where you are. As you go deeper and deeper, the tune also lowers in pitch and tempo, giving an uneasy and ominous air.

Rating: 5/10

Difficulty:

This game is difficult. As mentioned above, the monsters are brutal. If you wander too far, you'll face stronger monsters, and you'll be dead. Sometimes you'll see a bridge connecting two landmasses. The bridge tells you that you're about to enter a new area which is full of new monsters, so you can avoid going forward if you're not ready. But sometimes there's no bridge to warn you, like in the very beginning of the game. I came across stronger enemies like Drakees while walking around the plain to the west of the starting castle. You'll almost always want to stick very close to the village when grinding to avoid surprise encounter.

When you die, it's not game over. Instead, you're automatically transported to the starting castle. Sounds like a good thing, right? Well, actually no, because you also lose half of your Gold. Death is much more punishing than most other games where you can save everywhere on the world map. I like it more in Dragon Warrior where you have to go to a safe place before you can save the game. There is no save point conveniently placed in front of a boss's room, so you can't just reset the game and load if you screw up. It's much more challenging this way.

However, there's one thing I have to criticize. There is only one save point in the game and that is your starting castle. I think they just want to use the Imperial Scrolls of Honor as a context but I have to backtrack all the way to the beginning every time I need to save. It's tedious. It's not that difficult to put save points in other villages as well.

And most of all, the time you'll spend grinding. The most difficult thing about this game is to persevere in grinding until the end. See gameplay.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion:

dw_23_zps7c3a5723.png

Um... no, thanks.

When I was 4 or 5, a friend let me borrow one of his old NES game. The title Dragon Warrior was written on it. I wasn't familiar with the name at all. Back then all I knew about was Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man. But when I first tried it, it was one of the most memorable moments in my life. I played as a hero who was on a journey to save the princess and slay the evil overlord. It wasn't like those platformers. This game put me in an open world. I was free to go anywhere and do whatever I want. It was really cool.

Now when I look back at the past, it's ironic. Even though Dragon Warrior introduced me to a new wonderful genre, now it will be the last JRPG game that I want to play.

Dragon Warrior offered a never-before-seen gameplay experience to all of us. It was a very interesting idea that pioneered the new genre known as JRPG and would later become a mold used to cast many future products of its kind. However, the game itself suffered fatally from its poor design. The new concept of JRPG was fascinating on paper, but Dragon Warrior executed it very poorly.

It was revolutionary back then, I'll give it that, but it was a masterpiece that wouldn't stand the test of time. The game was released in 1986 in Japan and there was plenty of hype. There was never anything so exciting, so unique. Sadly, by the time it reached America, there were already many better games to compare it with. Instead of attracting the players there to the genre, it only served to make them go away from it. Now I think to myself, why did I think that spending 20 or 30 hours of my life grinding and grinding was so much fun? Come to think of it, Dragon warrior was fresh, but it wasn't really that good. In my opinion, the game continued to sell in Japan because of the colossal first impression it had left there. For me, I still have some sentiment toward it, but I'll just cherish the good old memory rather than playing it again. If you're curious to know what the legend is like, by all means. If you're looking for something enjoyable, you might want to look somewhere else.

Overall rating (not an average): 5.0/10 | Mediocre
 
Last edited:
5. Nintendo World Cup

nwc_0_zps27d86bac.png


Released In: 1990
Developer: Technos Japan
Publisher: Nintendo


The World Cup is here! A month of thrill, drama, and tears has come. The air of sheer excitement that makes our adrenaline levels skyrocket is here. It will be a fight to the death between nations. There will be victims. There will be casualties. The weak will succumb to the strong, and only the last men standing will be considered heroes. Those who don't share the same enthusiasm will wonder greatly what's so special about it, but for those who have football in their hearts, it isn't just a matter of life and death, but it's more important than that.

For this special occasion, there's no other game more appropriate to review than a football game!

But today I'll be looking at an unconventional football game. Today I'll be looking at a Kunio game.

nwc_1_zpsfa867de1.png
nwc_2_zpsfbbc2539.png

nwc_3_zps5eb8887c.png
nwc_4_zpsdba5129d.png

nwc_5_zpsde8e1d0b.png
nwc_6_zps94f2cc04.png

Version differences.

Some western gamers might not know about Kunio, because the NES version of Kunio games were heavily localized. Character names were changed to American names, Japanese settings were changed to American, and stories completely differed from the Famicom version. Examples of some games in the series are Renegade, Super Dodge Ball and River City Ransom.

Kunio game series consists of no-holds-barred sport games famous for their super deformed characters and tongue-in-cheek slapstick. There are various kinds of sports, Dodgeball, Basketball, even Athletics. The games are won by achieving the goals of their respective sports, and the rules of the games are slightly altered so that violence is allowed.

It's the same for Kunio football game. You can resort to whatever means necessary in order to win.

nwc_7_zps7affc0ec.png

"If you win, I'll reward you with ♥♥♥♥!"

nwc_8_zpsd9b4fca9.png

"W-we'll do it!"

There are some significant differences between versions. The NES version, Nintendo World Cup, is about 13 national teams competing to win the world cup (not the FIFA World Cup), and the ending only consists of the crowning ceremony. The Famicom version, Nekketsu Koukou Dojjibooru Bu Sakkaa Hen, is completely different. The story is about Nekketsu dodgeball club members competing in the national high school championship in place of the football club members, who are all sick because of food poisoning. It has its own storyline. As the tournament progresses, the first team players will come back to join you one by one. And the ending is pretty nice.

Gameplay:

You'll be playing a six-a-side football. In this game, you control only one player. You can't switch control to other players, but you can give them commands.

nwc_10_zps1b87ca94.png

Assigning AI's behavior.

Before each match, you'll be prompted to assign each player's position and your teammates' behavior.

Like all other variations of football, the objective of the game is to score more goals than the opposing team. However, a few rules don't apply here.

nwc_111_zpsd03e4727.png

The losers are crying manly tears.

1. There is no tiebreaker. A tie equals your defeat.

nwc_12_zps0b5dd92b.png

The most troublesome rule in the history of organized sports is gone.

2. There is no offside.

nwc_13_zps1bfa43a2.png

I love that exaggerated expression.

3. There is no foul!

This is the most fun part about Nintendo World Cup. No foul will be given. Thus you can do EVERYTHING to score. You can punch and kick your way to victory. You can go senseless and break as many bones as you like. In fact, using violence awarded you. If a player's HP is depleted, he'll stay down until a goal is scored and his HP will only recover after the half time.

There are three types of attacks, slide, tackle, and shooting the ball. Slide will stun your opponent for a few seconds, and tackle will knock him down, stunning him even longer than sliding. But if the tackler's HP is lower than the target's, he'll be the one falling to the ground. If the ball is in your possession, you can also shoot it at someone's face. It has the same effect as tackling.

nwc_141_zps9dd3b6b4.png

Shots in this game defy all laws of physics.

Your players can also do a special move called super kick. It is a powerful shot that flies straight at the goal with a breakneck speed, sending everything it hits into orbit. When you fail to score, the super kicks will be your trump card. But super kicks are limited to only 5 per half, so you can just hope to win by spamming them.

nwc_15_zpsb38b8088.png

The USSR has collapsed, but Germany still hasn't been unified?

There are 13 nations to choose from, all varying in abilities, ranging from the weakest Cameroon to the strongest Germany (yeah, not Brazil, because this game was released right after World Cup '90). As you progress, you'll face stronger and stronger opponents. Beating the game with a weak team will be a true challenge.

nwc_16_zps586367d6.png

You can trip on a rock.

In the Famicom version, there are also various kinds of pitches. At first, you'll be playing on a normal grass field. But you'll eventually get to play on a slippery ice pitch, where sliding is much more effective, or on a bumpy surface, where you can trip on a rock. For the NES version, It's a shame that you can only access to these pitches in VS mode.

nwc_17_zpsd26ee366.png

VS mode.

Playing in the tournament mode alone is fun enough, but you can also play in the co-op mode. Unlike the 1P mode where you are the heart of the team and the ball movement is mainly done through you, teamwork is crucial here. And that's not all. What makes Nintendo World Cup really shine is the VS mode. With the NES Four Score, up to 4 players can play all at once (only the NES version). Football is more fun when playing with a friend, right? Too bad there are only 5 teams to choose from. But wasting one another, treading on dead bodies and scoring your way toward victory is a load of fun.

nwc_18_zpsc4391417.png

There's no need to go trigger happy. Goal difference doesn't help in a knockout tournament.

There is a downside though and that is the match time. It takes too long to complete a match. A half lasts 4 in-game minutes. That equals 8 real minutes, which means you have to spend at least 16 minutes to finish a match. That's too long. If you're playing against a weak team, you'll be bored to death waiting for the final whistle. For the Famicom version, a half only lasts one and a half in-game minutes, which equal 3 real minutes and that's too short. Perhaps Technos Japan didn't know moderation. The VS mode match lasts even longer, with 10 in-game minutes, but at least there's no half time.

For me, the Famicom version's VS mode's match time is just right. 5 minutes per half, not so long that it makes you bored and not too short to do anything.

nwc_19_zps6d245644.png

It's a strangely blissful feeling to see those lying bodies.

However, the good outweighs the bad in this one. Nintendo World Cup is unlike any other football game you might have seen before. The gameplay is innovative and distinct, but retains enough of the core of the sport. Football fans will enjoy it, but you don't have to be a football fan to enjoy it. You don't even have to like football to enjoy it. This game is made for everyone but only the most extreme of football purists.

Rating: 8/10

Control:

D-pad to move your character.

While on the defensive, B to slide and A to tackle. You can also use these buttons to command your teammates to do the respective actions.

While on the offensive, B to shoot and A to pass. You can also use these buttons to command your teammates to do the respective actions.

There are 3 ways to do the super kick. First, running a certain amount of steps and then shooting. Second, press A and B together to do a bicycle kick. Third, press A and B with a directional button to do a diving header. These moves are quite hard to time and execute, and you'll need some time to master them.

It's simple to control your own character, but sometimes you'll have a hard time giving orders to teammates, because they're quite unresponsive.

Rating: 8/10

Difficulty:

nwc_20_zps52afe0fa.png

The computer will also throw super shots at you.

The game's difficulty varies, depending on which team you pick. If you pick Germany or Argentina, it'll be a breeze. If you pick Cameroon or Japan, it'll be hell. I'll give the rating based on the protagonist team, USA.

The tournament mode's difficulty seems to waver a little. Sometimes you'll have to take on a strong team early on, and sometimes you'll face a weaker team later, but there isn't much difference. The real challenge will be Mexico and the semifinalists Argentina, with their unblockable super kick. Germany isn't that hard compared to these two because their super kick is inaccurate, but they're still a force to be reckoned with.

It's possible to score with normal shots. You have to go at least as deep as the goal area before you fire and then collect the rebound, or you can just dribble past the goalkeeper. The problem is how to enter the goal area, as you'll have to get past the opponent's line of defense first. If you're playing against weak team like Cameroon, it'll be easy to outrun their defense, but usually you'll be beaten to pulp before you even reach the penalty area, so you'll have to knock them out first, or better, rely on super kicks.

In the Famicom version, you can spam super kick as often as you like and most goalkeepers don't have much chance against it. But in the NES version, this has been nerfed considerably. The stronger the opponent team are, the higher chance their goalkeeper has to block it. And you're limited to only 5 super kicks a half, so you can't depend solely on them. The best way to use a super kick is to perform a bicycle kick, as most goalkeepers can't reach high balls.

The long 16-minute match time doesn't help either. The opponent, especially the overpowered Argentina, will have plenty of time scoring and sometimes you just have to resort to time-wasting tactics. With shorter time, the Famicom version is more forgiving.

Rating: 8/10

Graphics:

The graphics are great for an NES football game. The playing field is colorful enough. It's just the same pattern extending as far as your eyes can see, but it's a football field so there isn't supposed to be anything strange in it. The super deformed cartoonish characters are very well done. You can see the details they put in by the distinct facial features every one of them has. Different super kicks also have different effects. It makes you want to play every team and try them all.

nwc_21_zps9e1a3db6.png

The sprites flash from time to time.

One thing that might bother you is the huge amount of flickering because of the number of sprites on the screen. It can't be helped considering the console's limitation, but it can be annoying. For some reason, the Famicom version seems to handle this better than the NES version.

Rating: 8/10

Sounds:

Nintendo World Cup has some well-suited music that gets you really psyched. There are different opening themes for all nations which are derived from their anthems or traditional songs. The upbeat match themes really set the right mood for the fast-paced game. As you advance further, the music also gets more serious as if to warn you that you've come too far to lose. And the Final theme uses a lighter tune with high tempo. It's pointing to the light at the end of the tunnel. It's reminding you that this is the final showdown. It's cheering for you and telling you not to give up.

Music is one of the best things in Nintendo World Cup. It has a very strong effect on you. It draws you into the game and makes you feel like you're a part of it.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion:

nwc_22_zps2f37b44a.png
nwc_23_zpse5097caf.png
nwc_24_zpse7af67e2.png
nwc_25_zps7fdb1629.png

Football video games of the past, and today.

In the beginning, football video games were so plain. The controls were not very responsive, the players moved clumsily and it was hard to aim the ball right, but it was enough. However, video game consoles have been evolving, and so have the games. More powerful consoles allow better video games. Thus football video games are getting more and more realistic.

That is a good thing, but it's also sad when I think about it. True, football games are becoming more and more real, but that means they're also becoming less and less video game.

Today we have games like FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer. There are so many moves you can perform. And the players have so many attributes. Go to the formation screen and take a look. Acceleration, speed, positioning, stamina, set pieces... there are almost a hundred stats to take into account. You have to check which player has accumulated too much fatigue. You have to see whose morale is too low. You have to know which player is good for which task. In addition, external factors, like weather, come into play as well. There are so many things to think about. Many details have been put into the games, sometimes excessively. It's getting more and more technical. You have to understand how the sport works, to the smallest detail, before you can even play them. Football video games are gradually distancing themselves from general gamers, and soon only a small circle of people will be able to enjoy them. Games won't be games anymore, but just professional sports simulations.

This doesn't mean that realistic games are detestable, but diversity is hardly noticable these days. There are too many serious games in the market. At times it's good to see something light for a change, and developers today should take Nintendo World Cup as an example. This game doesn't confine you with technicalities and troublesome rules like offside and foul and that is why everyone can enjoy it. You can do everything to win. You can knock your opponent out and use the cool super kicks to score goals. Nintendo World Cup is so action-packed and so fun. It's one of the best sport (if you can call it sport) games on the NES. It doesn't require any overly difficult numbers or complicated formulas. A game like this makes us remember again why football is so fun in the first place. It's not necessary to try to outwit each other to that extent, because just getting into the field and kicking the ball with everyone is the easiest way to enjoy football.

Overall rating (not an average): 8.0/10 | Great (8.5 for the Famicom version)
 
Last edited:
6. Mega Man

mm_0_zps78184dfd.png


Released In: 1987
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom


Mega Man reviews trilogy part 1.

In the year 198X...

Capcom had been successful releasing arcade games so far. Even with the emergence of the Famicom, they still had ported games like 1942 and Ghosts 'n Goblins. But, eventually, they decided that it wasn't enough, so they planned to develop a game that would be more suited for home console. Therefore the Blue Bomber, Mega Man, was wrought.

He wasn't originally Mega Man though. Back then, the developer had thought of many names, such as Mighty Kid and Rainbow Man, and finally they decided to use a music motif and name him Rockman. However, while the Japanese version would continue to use this name, it was changed to Mega Man in the North American version, because Capcom felt that it would attract American children more. And the reason he became blue was due to NES's limited palette. Because the color had more shades than any other hues, it was used to give him more detail and to make him stand out from the background.

Mega Man's design was heavily influenced by Tezuka Osamu's Astro Boy. Other characters were inspired by both Japanese mangas and American comics. Even though the artworks were derived from many sources, they had their uniqueness. When you see a character, you can clearly tell if it's from Mega Man or not. The team did very well developing their own style, thanks to the team's artist, Keiji Inafune.

Still, the team needed to think of a way to make the game interesting. They wanted to create gameplay mechanics that were interesting and simple enough for everyone. Eventually, after some brainstorming sessions, the decided to borrow the concepts of two traditional games, Menko and rock-paper-scissors.

mm_1_zpsb7084edd.jpg


Menko is a Japanese card game where each player uses cards made of thick paper. A player has to place his/her Menko card on a hard floor and other players have to try to flip it by throwing their own Menko cards at it. The player that flips it will get the card. This aspect would be utilized in Mega Man. Mega Man would get the robot master's weapon after he defeated him. The rock-paper-scissors gameplay was put in here too. One robot master's weapon would be greatly effective against one other robot master, but not much else against others.

And so with the game concept established, All that was left was to put everything together, and realize the game.

Finally, on December 17, 1987, Mega Man was released.

The Mega Man story:
It's Mega Man versus the powerful leaders and fighting forces of Monsteropolis -- that strange multi-faceted land of robot-like Humanoids. Brilliant scientist Dr. Light conceived the construction of fully-operational human-like experimental robots to perform specific everyday duties. Dr. Light, and his assistant Dr. Wily, encouraged with their very first near human robot -- Mega Man -- proceeded to develop six additional Humanoids, all programmed to perform prescribed rituals.

But, with the exception of Mega Man, all of Dr. Light's near-human robot experimentation went awry. Assistant Dr. Wily turned disloyal, re-programming Dr. Light's Humanoids, now bent on destroying opposition so Dr. Wily could control the world and its resources.

Resisting re-programming, Mega Man is chosen the defender of the universe and its inhabitants. Mega Man dares to single-handedly penetrate seven separate empires of Monsteropolis, eliminating the leaders and followers of these sovereignties. Get ready for some very exciting challenges!

Controls:

B - Fire Mega Buster
A - Jump
D-pad - Move/Climb

The game control is near perfect. The character is pretty responsive. Your Mega Buster is limited to 3 shots on the screen, but the pellets travel fast enough that you'll barely notice the limitation.

One tiny problem about Mega Man's movement is, he seems to skid a little when you let go of the D-pad. This makes small platforms precarious and navigating through them should be treated with some caution.

Rating: 9/10

Graphics:

The graphics are impressive for a game released in 1987. All characters have good distinctive designs. Their pixelated sprites are lovely. There is a variety of enemies throughout the game so you won't get bored. The animations are also smooth and fluid.

mm_2_zpscc972866.png
mm_3_zps72a91095.png


The level themes suit their respective bosses greatly. The backgrounds are well detailed. Some level tiles are reused in later levels, but the game's clever use of color palette swap makes them unnoticable.

mm_4_zpsd5d0be69.png
mm_5_zps4e081037.png


Still, all urban-themed levels look similar and dull. Color is the only things that distinguishes one from another.

Overall, the graphics are good, unbelievably good for the day. It might not look beautiful today, but it doesn't look outdated either.

Rating: 9/10

Sounds:

Mega Man's music is quite average. The BGM is pretty dull and uninspired. There is only a slight difference between them. For a game that contains a lot of enemies and traps that require you to be alert all the time, the music is completely off. For example, Guts Man's theme is just a very short jumble on a loop. The ominous theme of the final level just doesn't suit the light blue background. Sometimes it can't decide whether to be tense or relaxing, thus fails at being both. There is nothing special about the tracks so they're pretty forgettable.

mm_6_zps267bb67d.png


However, there are two or three memorable tunes. My favorite in this game is Fire Man's theme. Some find it the most annoying, but I find it the most catchy.

Sound effects in this game are a little strange. Mega Buster sounds like dispenser machine. Disappearing blocks sound like fizzling Cola. Most other sounds are just blipping and beeping. Still, they aren't bad to the point of being annoying, and they do blend well with the cartoonish character style.

Rating: 7/10

Gameplay:

mm_7_zps9db69c39.png


At the start of the game, you'll be given six levels to choose from. You have to defeat all six robot masters, but you can do it in any order. This kind of nonlinear gameplay was pretty uncommon. The game doesn't force you through a linear path. If you find a level too difficult, you can play easier level to get more firepower first. This reduces the frustration of facing insurmountable obstacles.

mm_8_zpsf7e50098.png
mm_9_zpsc5498dcd.png


There is some amount of level diversity. For example, Elec Man's stage has you scale a very high tower, Fire Man's stage is full of traps, and Ice Man's stage has jumping puzzles. Some levels like Bomb Man's are just straightforward platformer levels, so players who aren't used to unfamiliar designs can enjoy it as well.

mm_10_zps74f43eb4.png


There will be different kinds of enemies in each level. Some are tougher than others, and some are immune to Mega Buster. But as you progress, you'll get better and stronger weapons to deal with them.

mm_11_zps43358612.png


The robot masters and their weapons are the trademark aspects of Mega Man. When you defeat a boss, you get his weapon as a reward. And this weapon will be effective against one particular boss. Each boss has his own weakness. Using your imagination figuring out which weapon to use is one of the fun part in Mega Man. This, combined with the freedom of choice, adds much more replay value to the game.

mm_12_zpsc1c7dea3.png
mm_13_zpsc93f5022.png


After all six robot masters are defeated, it's time to tackle Dr. Wily's fortress. You'll be facing a gauntlet of four successive levels, plus the six robot masters' rematches. The challenge will put your skills to the limit. Only by using the right weapon in the right situation can you win.

mm_14_zpscc421bdd.png


One thing that I consider a design flaw is the way you get the Magnet Beam. The Magnet Beam is an item that creates platforms you can step on, which greatly help you navigate through some tricky levels. The Magnet Beam is necessary to clear a room in Dr. Wily's fortress. But it is lying aside like some optional item. The game doesn't suggest or force you to get it in any way, so you can miss it. If you enter Dr. Wily's fortress without it, you're screwed.

mm_15_zps097712eb.png


Mega Man also has a score system. But it is completely pointless (no pun intended). Getting high score doesn't really reward you anything. Not even bragging right, because the game doesn't keep track of it. However, it doesn't harm anyone either so this can be overlooked.

Gameplay-wise, Mega Man doesn't have any serious issue. The game is simple and easy to understand. It is fun and innovative. The unique formula of traditional games and how it encourages players to make the most of the special weapons are what make Mega Man stand out from, and top, other platformers.

Rating: 10/10

Difficulty:

Don't be fooled by the cartoonish look of this game. Mega Man is notoriously difficult for a few reasons.

First of all, the bosses.

mm_16_zps96eadc1b.png


Some of the bosses in Mega Man are incredibly difficult. They're tough. Their moves are hard to dodge. And, most of all, they hit hard. Their attacks will take a fair chunk of your HP. Some bosses can even kill you in three hits. This greatly limits the freedom of choice, because picking weak bosses first and beating hard bosses with their weaknesses later are almost compulsory. I think they want to encourage the use of robot masters' weapons, but it's almost like a beginner's trap. It's okay to have hard bosses but when they're too unbalanced, it becomes a trial-and error game.

mm_17_zps65e9d7d0.png


Second, there are a few annoying instances in the game. For example, there is a section that needs you to jump on moving platforms across a huge bottomless pit. The problem is, they move around randomly. Sometimes you'll find the next platform too high to jump on and you'll have to wait, sometimes very long, for it to descend. It depends solely on luck. Another example is an unfair fire trap that needs a pixel-perfect maneuver. Taking damage is almost mandatory because it's nearly impossible to get past it unscathed.

mm_18_zps0321b141.png


Finally, there is no password feature. True, the levels are short and there are only ten of them, but they're extremely hard. As you waste your time dying and retrying, you might notice that the day is already over. Beating the game in one sitting is very difficult unless you know the game inside out.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion:

mm_19_zpsf6c84c6b.png


In the days of its release, Mega Man stood out from any other platformers. Its concept was groundbreaking. The idea of assimilating bosses' weapons was promising, and the idea of using them against other bosses was clever. The controls were excellent and the animations were superb. Mega Man looked so full of life on the screen. He could shoot, and he could jump. He could even blink.

Even with all that, Mega Man somehow failed to attract contemporary gamers. The main reason was its immense difficulty that showed no mercy to newbies and frustrated more than challenged. Some bosses' difficulty was legendary so your strategy was greatly limited. Rather than offering the fun of trying different approaches, it acted like a linear puzzle game where there was only one solution. As the hassle balanced out the fun, Mega Man didn't live up to its creativity and was ultimately overlooked.

That wasn't all. Some eschewed the game without even trying it, partly because of the horrible box art that managed to instill a lasting rotten first impression to all.

mm_20_zpsc0af1f61.jpg


This is an abomination. Whoever dared come up with this should do the gaming world a favor by going to a toilet and shoving his own head down it.

Still, it wasn't the end of Mega Man. Even though it wasn't a commercial success, the game still had room for improvement. The solid and addictive gameplay still had a lot of potential in store. The Menko mechanic rewarded the players' success and encouraged them to go forward. The rock-paper-scissors mechanic let players experiment with possibilities. It was a strong base that allowed many new elements and extensions to be built upon. Mega Man wasn't a perfect game, but it already left something precious for the future, and it would later become a momentous set of footsteps to follow in.

(To be continued.)

Overall rating (not an average): 7.0/10 | Good
 
Last edited:
7. Wrecking Crew

wc_0_zps3996abab.png


Released In: 1985
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo


wc_1_zps1adce160.png


There's no way you haven't heard of Mario, right?

Mario is a widely known video game character. Since his debut, he has been in various Nintendo games, making cameo appearances, starring as a fully playable character, or even playing as an antagonist. His popularity eventually spawned his own video game series, earning him international fame. He is like an ambassador for video games, the icon of the industry. He's the most famous character of all time. Not knowing who he is is like a deadly sin for someone who calls himself a gamer.

Until today, many Mario games have been released, from hardcore games to educational games, from platformers to RPGs, from consoles to handheld devices. The big showcase is brimming with many golden memories. Even though they aren't all sweet and some of them failed to impress, there are many good pieces of work that would marginalize the debacles. The Mario name is synonymous with quality and good designs. There are a lot to commend on, but praise for such great thing can not be written exhaustively.

wc_2_zps424085b1.png
wc_3_zpsc55722b5.png
wc_4_zpsfda4b6d1.png


Still, while many of the franchise's critically acclaimed titles get to enjoy the spotlight, there are also the ones that never get their deserved attention, sitting in the dark corner of obscurity.

There is an obscure Mario game??? Mamma mia. Mario, the most famous character in the history of video game, has a game of his that is obscure?

Back at the beginning of the 8-bit era, in 1985, the NES was released along with its 18 launch titles, some of them were arcade ports featuring the Italian plumber. I'm going to take a look at one of them.

wc_5_zps47d82bd4.png
wc_6_zpse1e4b4da.png


Mario Bros.? Very far from obscure. Or Super Mario Bros.? If the game that set the American gaming industry cogwheel in motion is obscure, then all other games must be garbage.

wc_7_zps5a89abe4.png
wc_8_zps011168ae.png


We all know Mario used to works as an umpire and even in a pinball machine. But Tennis and Pinball, while not great, aren't obscure either.

What I have here is perhaps one of the most forgotten Mario games that has ever graced the market.

wc_9_zps8646c883.png


So, instead of entering pipes and cleaning sewers, our Mario brothers have another profession. Here, their job is to demolish a series of condemned eight-story buildings with their trusty hammers.

Destroying things is always fun. Imagine destroying things as Mario. It could only means more fun... right?

Welcome to Wrecking Crew.

Control:

A or B - Attack with hammer
D-pad - Move
Start - Pause
Select - Return to title screen

Good simplicity is good. The controls are easy and rarely unresponsive.

At the start of each stage, the camera will move to show the layout of the stage. The stage is big and you won't be able to see the whole thing on your TV screen, but you can pause and press up or down to scroll and see what lies ahead again. This is very useful to plan ahead, or to avoid taking a leap of faith when you want to drop down below.

The most noticeable thing here is that, Mario can't jump! He has to climb ladders to avoid obstacles. Falling from great height doesn't cause him to lose a life though.

Rating: 9/10

Gameplay:

wc_10_zps02f982bb.png


Now first thing to keep in mind is, Wrecking Crew isn't an action-packed platformer. It's a puzzle game which tests your quick thinking and problem solving skills. If you expect to have fun jumping from platform to platform going on a killing spree like in SMB, then it is best to look elsewhere.

In Wrecking Crew, you take the role of Mario or Luigi. The goal of the game is to demolish buildings by destroying all walls. Each building has eight stories. On each floor, you can go off the left side of the screen and reappear on the right and vice versa. Since you can't jump, ladders are the only way to access higher floors.

wc_11_zps3d1d905c.png


There are four types of objects you need to destroy to complete a level. Normal wall can be destroyed in one hit. White brick wall and black brick wall required two and three hits respectively. The trickiest one is the ladder wall. Because you need ladders to reach certain areas, the order of demolition is very important. If you don't think enough, you'll find yourself stuck.

You can see which objects you need to destroy by pausing. The walls designated for demolition will be flashing.

wc_12_zps280c30aa.png


Also, beware, as the derelict building is home to dangerous monsters.

The monsters are the game's main obstacles. There are five types of enemies in the game, four of which will instantly kill you upon contact. You can easily outrun them. The problem is, they come in numbers. It is easy to get surrounded or get cornered in one of the many dead ends. To destroy certain walls, it is essential to lure them aside and plan your escape route well.

wc_13_zps6085dc35.png


There are a few ways to disable your enemies. You can trap them in an inescapable area.

wc_14_zpsdde7b7cd.png


You can drop drums on them. This will also earn you extra points.

wc_15_zps25057484.png


Or you can herd them toward a door, sending them to the background and rendering them completely harmless. But they can come back through an open door, so watch out.

wc_16_zpsb6fc4767.png


You can also utilize some tools in the stages. There are doors which help against monsters, as mention earlier. There are pillars that you can knock down to let the objects above them fall. And there are dynamites, which are very useful. Dynamites can be used to demolish many objects in a row with chain reactions. They can be used to open faraway doors for a brief moment. They can also be used as emergency exits from seemingly hopeless situations.

There is only one power-up in the game. The golden hammer.

wc_17_zps7d03b17a.png


When a certain dynamite is detonated, there's a chance that the golden hammer will appear. It's a huge upgrade from your normal hammer. It swings faster and can destroy every brick wall in one hit. You can send enemies down to the bottom floor with it. You can even levitate with it! It'll stay with you until you lose a life. If your happen to get your hands on it, you'll never want to let it go.

wc_18_zpsbabd02f5.png


Another secret is the letters behind the walls. If you can find the letters of the name in the correct order (M, A, R, I, O or L, U, I, G, I), you get an extra life.

wc_19_zps1ecc13f9.png


Let's continue looking at the level themselves. There are as many as 100 levels in Wrecking Crew. Even though this game has no password or save function, fortunately, the game has a stage select feature. This means you can always continue where you left off. The only downside of this is, you won't be able to keep extra lives, points, or the golden hammer.

wc_20_zpsb3901305.png


The game starts off straightforwardly enough. In earlier stages, only slow enemies go after you, there are a lot of escape routes, and you don't need to destroy walls in any order.

wc_21_zps51a47d00.png


But things will get more and more complicated as your progress. There will be more faster enemies. Foreman Spike will prove to be really annoying. There will be a lot of dead ends in which you can easily get cornered. Ladder walls will come into play very often. Thus the demolition sequence is extremely important. Knowing how and when to use those tools, and even turning the enemies to your advantage, will save your day.

wc_22_zpsd6a05a61.png


The game brings you to a bonus stage every four levels. Here, you'll have to compete with Foreman Spike finding the coin behind one of the walls. You'll get points if you succeed. Finding it in one try earns you extra 10000 points. There seems to be no set pattern for the coin's appearance, so it's based entirely on luck here. The bonus stage doesn't reward you anything other than points.

Wrecking Crew is a puzzle game that doesn't frustrate. The learning curve is reasonable. Later levels' designs might leave you in awe of how cunning and clever they are. The game will test your problem solving skills, creativity and reflexes, but not to the extreme limit. This game isn't one of those brain toaster puzzles that requires the use of trigonometric functions and/or calculus equations. Wrecking Crew is simple enough to be fun. It might take some trial and error at first, but it won't take long because everything is easy to understand. If you don't mind puzzle games, you'll find this one enjoyable, or even addictive.

Rating: 9/10

First, you have to find the special dynamite. In a level that has three or more dynamites, there will be a certain dynamite that, when detonated third, yields a prize. After you know which one of them is the special dynamite, you have to detonate it third using this formula:

([Number of hammer swings since phase started] + [Phase number]) % 8 = x

If x = 1, you get the golden hammer. Otherwise, it will spawn a different prize, which only give you points.

Difficulty:

Is Wrecking Crew difficult? The answer is yes, but only if you don't know what you're doing. As stated earlier, this isn't your conventional platformer. This is an action puzzle game. It requires good understanding, good strategy, and a cool head.

wc_23_zps224e65e5.png


There are five types of enemies in the game.

The Gotchawrench Jr. and its faster version, the Gotchawrench, will go straight after Mario. They're relentless, but they can only change direction when they run into ladders. The Fireball will appear periodically on the opposite side of Mario's current floor. Foreman Spike will follow Mario wherever he goes, and will try to knock him down by destroying the walls from the other side.

wc_24_zps256f68a4.png


The most erratic and most dangerous of them all is the Eggplant Man. The Eggplant Man climb up or down a floor whenever it runs into a ladder, and it changes direction whenever it runs into another monster. However, due to poor collision detection, it doesn't always change direction. This makes it the most unpredictable monster in the game. Facing a group of Eggplant Men at once is like a living nightmare.

wc_25_zps8200fab1.png


Sometimes you'll see an enemy climbing a high ladder wall. In most cases, you don't want to destroy the ladder and knock it down, as it gains more speed every time it falls head first (not only by collapsing ladders, but by dynamites and golden hammer as well), and it will make running away much harder.

wc_26_zpseec60b7b.png


In addition to dodging these enemies, you'll find a fair amount of challenge in the levels themselves. In later levels, it is necessary to destroy the wall in a certain order, or you'll get stuck. For example, you can't destroy the ladder before destroying the walls above it. Thinking of the best solution isn't that difficult, because you can just pause the game to give yourself time to look at the layout. The harder part is to give it a try and see if your plan will work or not. Random factors like the Fireballs and the Eggplant Men might get everything out of control. If that happens, only good reflexes and some decisive actions will help you cope with troubles.

In both action and puzzle aspects, Wrecking Crew's difficulty is just right, not too hard and not to easy. You'll face an overwhelming number of enemies, but good planning, decisiveness and a bit of luck will get you through.

Rating: 6/10

Graphics:

At first, Wrecking Crew looks bland, but it actually isn't that bad. Like all other earlier games, the graphics keep it simple but colorful and detailed enough to show what the objects are. All things blend together well and aren't confusing. Mario is in his usual red but Luigi looks different than usual. He's like an albino version of Mario and, instead of donning green, he's now seen in purple attire. Well, this isn't necessarily a bad choice as the building is already green. He can be easily distinguished in purple.

The background is just all black and dull, but I figure it's for the same reason. It doesn't distract you from what's happening in the foreground. It might be for the best sacrificing aesthetic for contrast.

There aren't many types of enemies and most of them don't behave that much differently. It would be nice to see more variety. The challenge isn't to take on different kinds of threats, but rather to take on quantity. Still, the amount of sprite flickering is minimal. It only happens when enemies cluster together and it will rarely irritate you.

Overall, the graphics aren't stunning or impressive, but they were great for the time, and they work well.

wc_27_zps450692ef.png


Also, I love the Eggplant Men.

Rating: 8/10

Sounds:

The music of Wrecking Crew isn't particularly special or anything. There are only three tracks in the whole game: the main theme, the golden hammer theme and the bonus stage theme. The main theme is plain, average and repetitive. And you might never get a chance to hear the golden hammer theme because it is so elusive. The music gives you the "I just hit the jackpot" feel, but there's nothing memorable about it. The only song I like is the upbeat bonus stage theme, but the bonus stage is short and you only get to hear it every four levels.

The sound effects are a bit lacking. There are only smashing and crumblings sounds, Mario's boots squeaking sound, and a few other sounds. Well, they're adequate, but they don't provide that much life for the game.

Rating: 4/10

Conclusion:

wc_28_zpsd3420301.png


During the period of transition from arcade to home console, most console games were still arcade ports. Gameplay was repetitive and all of them shared the same objective, to achieve a high score and get your own name on the top of the list. Today's people may think it was lame and boring, but back then there were little luxury. The games didn't offer much and competing with each other was entertaining enough. That was until Super Mario Bros. revolutionized it all. It broke away from the same old same old arcade-style flock and gave the gaming world a new purpose, other than getting high score. It was more story-driven, it wasn't as repetitive, and it actually ended somewhere. There was an ending point. There was an ending to be achieved.

Among all the NES launch titles, there was no other game that quite pulled off the same feat, other than Wrecking Crew.

Yeah, unlike SMB, Wrecking Crew has neither the opening nor the ending. (After you complete all levels, the game just loops back to the first level. The only difference is that Fireballs pop up more often in the second playthrough.) But it has set itself apart from other arcade games. While those arcade games consist of only 5 or 6 levels looping forever with a little palette swap here and a little tile swap there, there are 100 levels to play in Wrecking Crew! 100 levels, that's terrific for a game released in 1985. And those 100 levels aren't just the same level in different cosmetics. They're totally different and they're all well-crafted. Even though this game still has the high score element, nobody cares about it. It's more about how to clear all those tricky levels. It gave gamers a new direction, like SMB. And if that's not enough, the game also has a level editor. (Even though the save function doesn't work, because the necessary hardware is only available in Japan.)

Most of all, Wrecking Crew is a unique puzzle game. We've seen countless clones of other puzzle games like Tetris, Boulder Dash or Soukoban, but, to this day, no other game has ever done it like Wrecking Crew. Even its own Japan-exclusive sequel isn't even remotely similar. Hence it's fresh even to present gamers. Perhaps this is partly because of its obscurity, as it was overshadowed by other titles like Excitebike, Duck Hunt and SMB, but it doesn't negate the fact that its originality still stands to this day.

People tend to judge and criticize Wrecking Crew solely by action game's standards, which I think is unfair. Wrecking Crew is a hybrid, a fine mixture of action game's physical challenges and puzzle game's depth. It's not the best game out there, but it's so very underrated and often overlooked. It's a hidden gem buried deep under the mountain that is the NES library. Only a handful of fortunate spelunkers would come across it and enjoy its addictive quality. If you've never played it before, try it. You won't be disappointed.

Overall rating (not an average): 8.5/10 | Outstanding
 
Last edited:
nice review frank! man i cracked up about dragon warrior review:XD:

BTW, that nintendo world cup is one of nekketsu series right? have you played the street basket version too?
 
nice review frank! man i cracked up about dragon warrior review:XD:

BTW, that nintendo world cup is one of nekketsu series right? have you played the street basket version too?

Even though I tried to be objective, it was just my personal opinion. =\ You might actually come to love DW after you try it. I will never understand why though.

Yeah, I've played the Nekketsu basketball game. I actually used to own its physical cartridge, not just a ROM file like these days. =\
 
the only dw series that i play is dw 7 on psx, but i haven't finished it tho'..but i agree with you, most
classic rpg are hard>_>...

i also play the other nekketsu, but i forgot the title..it's about sport too, kinda like athletic? but we could
smack and kick other player..the track is unusual too (ppl roof, house etc)xD
 
Earlier RPGs are crappy because they choose to lengthen the game with ridiculous grindfest, while the genre has many other selling points. =\

You must mean Downtown Nekketsu Koushinkyoku. It's the sports festival version. Great game to play with friends. =D
 
  • Like
Reactions: espiekerella
i can't think any selling point beside storyline and battle system at that years=/

yeah that's the game:XD:...

keep 'em coming frank:thumbup:
 
  • Like
Reactions: espiekerella
I haven't played that yet so it might take some time =\ but I plan to review all the top NES games eventually. It's just a matter of time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: espiekerella

Users who are viewing this thread

Latest profile posts

Mistersmiles wrote on ramori's profile.
Hi Ramori,

Could you please upload this? https://www.dlsite.com/maniax/work/=/product_id/RJ01168783.html

Thanks a ton.
seviness wrote on Shine's profile.
can you reupload this? thx.

✨Shine✨[240412][グラス] 洗脳悪堕ちSRPG~トルカ教団の野望~ [RJ01166925]

Isagi wrote on Shine's profile.
Hi, can you please upload this?
https://www.anime-sharing.com/threads/request-rj01183696-ムラムラ村-or-muramuramura-ピンクコーポレーション-新米olの淫らな闘い.1472795/
Thanks
Anchobee wrote on Shine's profile.
Hi, thanks for the upload of RJ01150742, seems like you locked the rar for mp3 so can I have the pw for it?
porm wrote on Shine's profile.
Hey Shine, can you please upload Version #74 for this? It's the latest update.

https://www.anime-sharing.com/threads/いーめいどぷらす-サバイバルゲーム-#71.1224098/