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Friday, April 8, 2011

Arch Rivals (1990)

Arch Rivals for the NES
Why hello there audience! What are you up to? That's cool, same here! What? You think I don't know what you are doing at the moment? Fine, you called my bluff.

So my buddy brought down 17 NES games for us to play in our dorm room. Out of our new collection of games, he was adamant that the one I absolutely had to play first was Arch Rivals. He didn't tell me anything about how to play or really anything about the game. He just told me "there are only two buttons, it can't be that hard to learn."

Game Summary: So it starts off with you choosing from a bunch of different players to be the one you control. I, of course, chose the guy named Mohawk because he obviously seemed like the coolest and most badass there. I won the jump ball and started running down the court when *BAM* I got punched in the face! My friend started cracking up laughing, ran down the court and dunked it. He then explained that the referee is extremely short-sighted so he doesn't call any fouls. That means A is shoot and B is punch. I quickly learned the controls and it became an extremely intense game, with Mohawk running around punching Tyrone, just to turn around and get hit by Tyrone's teammate. On a side note, to those of you who have played this, is there a way to change the teams playing or will it always be Chicago vs LA?
Getting punched in the face never gets old

Throughout the next 20 minutes or so of game time, I experienced one of the most intense and fun sports games I have yet to play. The simplicity of it made it so that a new player, like me, could pick it up instantly and still have a good chance of beating someone who has played it for awhile. After every shot made, there is a cheesy cut scene to either a cheerleader, some people just sitting there silently or a coach yelling at the team. There also was a great deal of frustration, as apparently your team can miss 5 dunks in a row, just to have the other team make a half court shot...

The real challenge came when I played against the computer though. I tried at least 4 different times and was completely slaughtered by it every time. They always made every shot and it always punched me square in the face no matter where I was. I know that if I gave it enough time, I could get good enough to beat the computer, but the majority of the fun in this game comes from playing with a friend and laughing for hours about how ridiculous it is.
My Buddy thought this guy would sound like Elmo

What I liked: Obviously I loved that you can run around punching your opponents to get the ball. Actually, they don't even have to have the ball, you can just run up to your buddy and continually punch him and keep him on the ground. I also liked how the game is simple enough to allow people pick up on it instantly, yet it is still challenging enough to keep it interesting. Also I personally liked how cheesy and ridiculous the announcer and coaches are. I was on the floor laughing several times because my friend would mimic what he thought their voices would sound like.

What I hated: The single player part of the game is extremely difficult, and after playing with a friend, I never wanted to play against the computer again. Then again, it may be just me complaining as a newer generation gamer who likes the difficulty to be that where I still stand a chance.
Just before I shattered the backboard!

Overall Impression: I absolutely loved this game when you play with a friend, and would go as far so say it's the most fun I've had with a sports game ever. The basketball part of game is actually very good and can be very intense if you and your friend get pretty into it. The "physical" part of the game is extremely enjoyable and funny (there is nothing like holding B, charging your punch and then hitting the enemy in the face - it is just so rewarding!) Overall, this game had my dormmates and I laughing nonstop every game we played while still being extremely competitive, which is something that I had yet to experience in a game yet.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jaws (1987)

Jaws
Oh why hello there audience! So how was everyone's Christmas and New Years? Yeah mine was awesome too! Oh, how did you hear I had my birthday over break? That's kinda stalker-ish of you... What?! You think I'm trying to be funny to avoid the fact that I haven't posted in over a month? How absurd of you audience, why would I ever do that? Anyways, let's get on to the game.

So Jaws is just one of those movies that everyone sees, one of those prominent horror movies that will scare kids out of the water for months at a time. Now I don't know about you audience, but I've noticed a trend in video games made after movies... they are terrible. So I went into this game not expecting a whole lot, but I kept hope thinking, "It's Jaws, it can't be that bad."
Really? That is Jaws? The biggest great white ever?

Game Commentary: So when you start the game, you begin on a boat in a port. You sail around until you "hit something" and decide to dive down and check it out, but when you go down, there's nothing there except jellyfish and stingrays which kill you instantly if you touch them. This is the game's way of getting you to collect the shells, which are then used to upgrade your boat. After a while, Jaws appears; this means that the game can be beaten within 10 minutes. After you shoot him until his health is down, you have to spear his heart. After that, you fly away on a plane and the game is over. And that's the game.

The sequences where you're underwater can get pretty intense (there can be 6 sharks coming after you while jellyfish are floating up at you). On top of that, you have to collect the conch shells. Then after that, you get to play a "Bonus Scene" which is impossibly hard for me. I don't know if I just had awful timing or if the jellyfish were just exceptional at dodging my bombs... wait why was I dropping bombs on jellyfish in the first place? Oh yeah, I've been playing so many current gen games that I forgot NES games don't have to sense! Oh I'm only joking, but seriously though, bombs are a little overboard...
The traders in the ports apparently accept shells as payment


What I Loved: This game was really entertaining. The scenes underwater were really fun and would occasionally get extremely intense leaving me with the "How in the world did I manage to get out of that without dying" feeling I've felt so often playing these games. I wouldn't say the gameplay was awesome, but it was definitely entertaining.


What I Hated: It was really short (I've heard of people beating it in under 5 minutes). Now I know why developers made games (like Contra) so hard! If they didn't, the games would be over in a ridiculously short amount of time. Also, it may just be a small personal gripe, but shouldn't Jaws be more... I don't know... menacing looking? In the game, Jaws is barely double the size of your diver, when in the movie he is ginormous (only made up words can describe his size).
I can never get these bombs to kill those jellyfish

General Impression: I actually enjoyed this game a lot as a break from the more intense games I've been playing lately (Fable, Black Ops, Burnout 3, Super Smash Bros, etc). But that being said, it only lasted me about 20 minutes before I beat the game, and once I beat it, I had no real interest in replaying the game. I could barely imagine paying full price for a game nowadays and only having 30 minutes of gametime tops. I'd say that it wasn't necessarily a terrible game as most made after movies tend to be, but it was by no means a very good game.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mega Man 2 (1989)

Mega Man 2
Hey guys! Long time no see haha. I am still alive (though Chem did basically kill me). I haven't done this in awhile so I apologize if I'm a little rusty. I figured that if I'm going to get back into this, I'll have to start back up with something major. After asking around, the general consensus has been Mega Man 2. I have to say, this game really surprised me. Lately I've been playing a lot of Wii games (Super Smash Bros Brawl - Luigi all the way!) and it's been around 2 months since last playing a game older than me, so I knew I was going to be a little bit rusty. When given the option between Normal and Difficult, I instantly chose normal for the sake of my sanity and found myself enjoy it with minimal screaming and hair-pulling.


Quickman's level was the death
of me many a time


Game Commentary: I was immediately surprised when the story was told to me in the opening scene. I'm not sure if this is one of the first games to do so, but it was nice not having to search for a manual to understand what I was shooting at. Basically, Dr. Wily is at it again and created eight robots to try and defeat you. Mega Man's job is to clear the eight levels, each having characteristics similar to the cyborg boss at the end. Mega Man then gains a power of the robot he defeats. They were really fun to mess around with, and I liked how some powers were weaknesses to other bosses. You also get upgrades from Dr. Light, but I actually didn't understand what they did until one of my roommates (who has played Mega Man before) let me know they were moving platforms.

The platforming in this game was very well done. It wasn't anything too hard and when the shooting and powers were mixed in, I found myself having a blast. I noticed pretty quickly that there is no real consequence for dying. For some reason, I chose Quickman's stage first and thought the rest of the game would be that difficult. As I was accumulating the powers, I actually felt that Mega Man was growing stronger. By the time I finished the last stage, it seemed like it was almost too easy.

I have to admit though that I could not actually finish the game. I got to the path to Dr. Wily, but there was one screen where the platforming part just destroyed me. I literally sat there trying to beat it for over an hour and could not pass it. I opted to start typing rather than break anything in frustration.

What I Loved: I really, really enjoyed this game. It was a very nice combination of platforming and run-and-gunning. Each of the levels and boss fights were really unique, which kept it interesting and fought off the repetitive feeling. I also personally love the feeling of starting off relatively weak and feeling my character get stronger as the game progresses.


What I Hated:
I hated those egg dropping birds. I just want to climb huge ladder and I get assaulted by hundreds of little birds. Oh yeah, and Quickman's stage. That was ridiculous. I also didn't like how I couldn't complete the game. I know that isn't the games fault, but you can count on me revisiting this game to finish it eventually.


My General Impression: This game was very entertaining. The gameplay was really fun, the platforming was nice, the action was nice, the boss battles were nice... But that is just it. To me, this game was really fun, but it wasn't spectacular. Don't take that as me disliking it at all. Overall, I really liked Mega Man 2. It isn't the absolute best game I had played so far, but it is definitely up there.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ninja Gaiden (1988)


Ninja Gaiden
The last couple days have been pretty crazy and the next week looks to be getting crazier. I'm officially moving into my dorm room and starting freshman year at UC San Diego tomorrow! Among the crazines, I found time to play Ninja Gaiden, a personal request from a friend (and a whole lot of you viewers). I have heard of this game and seen people play the newer versions on the Playstation consoles, but I have never actually played a game from the franchise. From what I saw and what people have been telling me, I was getting ready for a game that could rival Battletoads in difficulty.

Game Commentary: As the I started playing the game, I noticed a lot of similarities to Castlevania, except the platforming was much smoother and I found myself enjoying it much more. I found that I was expecting something much more difficult than what I was playing, but I think the developers made it easier on purpose so that the player could experience the (surprisingly entertaining) storyline. This is the reason I think that modern games use to justify being so much easier than these NES games. The “current gen” games focus so much on storyline that it would be awful for business if most of their players couldn't experience it because it was too difficult for them.
A Ninja Star Boomerang - One of the many secondary weapons

Now that doesn't mean this game isn't difficult. Anyone that has played this will tell you that 6-2 is completely ridiculous. Similar to Castlevania, the first Act was relatively easy only to get exponentially harder each Act. Around the 3rd Act, the game introduces these swooping birds that simply destroyed me (if you've played this game, you know exactly what I'm talking about).

There were several times during the game where the plot threw me for a loop, especially during the last couple minutes of the game. There were so many twists in the plot that I felt like I was watching the end of a movie. Overall, an awesome ending to a really enjoyable game.

Apparently Ninjas can throw fireballs out of their hand

What I Loved: The fighting in this game was awesome. I loved running around slicing up baddies. The platforming was very fun and challenging (I would often find myself tense up when finishing some crazy sequences). The types of enemies varied enough that you had to start incorporating whatever secondary weapon you have to make it past some parts. The bosses were awesome and all made me think of some very unique and inventive ways to kill them.

What I Hated:
Those swooping birds *shudder*. They are worse than the Medusas and Hunchbacks combined. Also it would get frustrating sometimes when you would unintentionally grab the sides of walls.
The man with the sword is the least of your problems

My General Impression: I loved this game. It is my favorite NES game I have played so far. The action was awesome, the story was engaging and has a couple twists at the end, the platforming was challenging yet fun, and the dialog was so cheesy I found myself laughing out loud several times. There secondary weapons were really fun to mess around with (the fire was the best in my opinion) and worked really well with the sword. Overall, Ninja Gaiden is one of the best games I've played in a long time


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Castlevania (1986)

With Halo: Reach just recently being released, one of my friends just called me crazy for wanting to play "some old game" when I could be playing one of the best games ever. I then went on to tell him that these older games, though they can be challenging and extremely frustrating some a lot of the time, also are a lot of fun. He called me crazy again and went back to Halo, but I know I'll be able to convince him one of these days.

So this "some old game" that you guys voted for me to play is Castlevania for the NES. I had heard a lot about Castlevania games before playing, but I have never actually played any of them. Before actually starting, I knew that your weapon of choice is a... whip. Why would anyone choose a whip? Anyways, you're using your whip to fight your way through levels of monsters until you get to the Count. After reading the manual, I was actually pretty excited to face all the classic horror monsters like Frankenstein and Medusa. I honestly was not expecting to get much further than Frankenstein based on the average difficulty of these games, yet strangely I didn't care ( probably because I just looked at Battletoads and I knew games could only get nicer to me from there).


I didn't even notice this was the first boss until I beat him

Game Commentary: At the beginning of the game, I must admit that I was a little surprised. The whip mechanics were really fun to play with, and the beginning of the game was easy enough for you to get the feel of the controls before doing anything seriously challenging. After I had beating the Phantom Bat, I was already loving this game.

But what seems to be a trend already, what I found myself thinking quickly turned on me and I found myself yelling in rage. This time it was not the enemies, not the unfairness of the game, but the jumping mechanics. It sort of baffles me that a game that focuses on platforming as much as Castlevania does, can have such awful jumping mechanics. It is designed so that you often have to jump at the last second to make it to the next platform, and when you make it you have a high chance of just geting knocked right off by incoming enemies (screw you floating Medusas!) I found myself falling down holes well over 50 times solely on the tunnel (10th stage).
Here I am just before being knocked to my death by a
floating Medusa head

On a tangent, this dying thing does bring up something that I really, really enjoyed in this game; when you die, there is an option to Continue. I was expecting to have to start the whole game over, but I was delightfully surprised when I found out that you only start the level over. You also never run out of continues, so it helps facilitate game progression and not make you memorize levels (that is, until later in the game). This is new to my gaming experience on the NES, and I certainly welcomed it.

So as I was going through this game, I was noticing that getting to the bosses became extremely difficult to do without losing most of my health (leaving me out of luck for the actual boss fights). I kept thinking to myself, these mummies are ridiculous, they can't make it a whole lot harder than these guys. Then I end up having to deal with Frankenstein and Igor and a controller was almost thrown. By the time I had gotten to the Grim Reaper, I couldn't bring myself to try and beat him.

I'm pretty sure this constitutes rape :(
What I Loved: I really enjoyed this game. I loved the setting, the story, the music, the atmosphere, the vast array of bad guys... all of it. I especially enjoyed the fighting mechanics, more specifically the incorporation of several "alternative weapons" and how that played into my strategies. There were only a couple that I felt were complete wastes of hearts. I would frequently find myself picking up different weapons solely to find out how to maximize their bad-guy-slaying abilities. The "Continue at the beginning of the level" part was very, very nice to have and is the only reason I made it anywhere near the Grim Reaper in the first place. The large variety of enemies was very nice as well, but the Medusas simply needed to be removed from the game.
These hunchbacks were almost as bad as the Medusas

What I Hated: The jumping mechanics of this game were terrible. When you find yourself on a moving platform, hope that you won't have to jump for some reason (ex. a bat flying at you like the beginning of stage 10) or else you'll end up in the holes. Also, I just hated the Medusa's with a passion. These floating heads were nearly impossible for me to hit, yet they always managed to hit me off the edge.

General Impression: This game was really entertaining. Though it had it's problems, and certainly ended up filling the requirements of "Nintendo Hard," it was a very enjoyable game to play. The best part I would say is the combat. I can see why the guys at Konami chose Castlevania as their main game series. With a nice combination of whipping monsters and using a wide variety of other weapons, it is something that would have definitely been on of my favorite childhood games had I been born 10 years earlier.



Monday, September 13, 2010

Battletoads (1991)

Battletoads
So the polls are closed and you guys voted for me to try Battletoads for the NES. I had heard of Battletoads before starting this, especially how the difficulty made kids throw controllers and yell at the TV in rage. It was released in June of 1991, and I was born in December, so it barely manages to be older than me. Now before I start, I would like to say thank you guys for all your feedback and support, but seriously why would you want me to go through this kind of torture? I thought Contra was hard, and now I spend around 10 hours on this game and only managed to get half way through before finally giving up. And then I see this runthrough and I just want to cry.

While reading the manual, I was glad to find that the developers had a good sense of humor, naming their characters Zitz, Pimple and Rash. I'm not sure how provocative the games usually were when I was born, but I have a feeling the Dark Queen was a little risque for her time. So the Dark Queen has kidnapped Pimple and his girl-toad, and it's up to Rash and Zitz to save them.
These things were annoying, but not impossible

 Game Commentary: After the first level, I thought that people must have been over-exaggerating the difficulty of this game; I didn't die once and had a fairly easy time blowing through the enemies. The "Wookie Tunnel" wasn't anything overly difficult either, so I was beginning to have my doubts. And then all my doubts were shoved back in my face, I was thrown to the ground, and then repeatedly kicked while I was down (figuratively speaking). The "Turbo Tunnel" was extremely difficult for me; if I hadn't found the warp in the first level, I would have given up there. Because I could warp there from the beginning of the game, I spent the next two hours just trying to get past this tunnel. I never actually fully beat the level, and instead accidentally ran into the warp and couldn't believe it. I jumped up and down yelling and cheering with such enthusiasm that my family came to check on me (they thought that I had won a lot of money or something like that). I honestly couldn't remember a time when I had been so happy that I had cleared a level. Clearing the first level on Contra was gratifying, but did not come close to how I felt at this time.
I never stopped to wonder why there was a Kangaroo riding a
rocket, trying to drop blocks on a toad riding a hoverbike

The next level was slightly easier for me, only because the 1UPs allowed me to not have to start the game over again. The mini-boss at the end seemed way to easy after the torture I had just been put through, but nevertheless I was on to the Snake Pit. This is where I started raging uncontrollably and literally almost broke something. I do not understand why the developers thought the 2nd and particularly the 3rd part of the Snake Pit would be a good idea, unless their goal was to make people hate them with a passion. Those of you who have played this, you know what how I felt when I over-jumped the Exit and landed on the spikes... When I finally ran out of continues the 3rd time through, I couldn't convince myself to go any further. And thus ended my futile attempt at beating the infamous Battletoads.
So close, yet so far away!

What I Loved: This game was really fun if you weren't concerned with dying, having to start over or generally progressing through the game. The fighting mechanics were very nice and the animations were very funny (who doesn't want to see a toad slam a kangaroo into the ground and kick it repeatedly in the face?). The humor in the game was entertaining when I wasn't too busy yelling at the game or the controls. It was also nice how each stage presented something unique and interesting (yet ridiculously hard) about it, be it climbing and jumping on snakes to "surfing" your way around whirlpools.


What I Hated: How unnecessarily difficult this game is. I played half way through the game and already was ready to break some controllers, and it only gets harder from there. It would have helped tremendously if there had been a save system that allowed you to not have to start the whole game over, but I have heard that saving systems were never heard of in NES games.

My General Impression: Now many of you have read my Contra post and know that I have gained an appreciation for harder games, but this was a little lot over the top for me. The gameplay was really enjoyable and the humor was subtle but still funny, but the hatred I had for the developers when I stopped playing was too great for me to continue to appreciate these parts of the game. Many of the later parts rely on memorization (and luck), but when you have to play through the whole game to practice these later levels, it becomes extremely frustrating.

I genuinely enjoyed this game and would recommend people play it, but I would definitely warn them to not take it too seriously and not to expect to beat it or else controllers will be thrown and things will be broken.


**Edit: This game has some of the coolest pause music I've ever heard **

Saturday, September 11, 2010

River Raid (1982)

River Raid
So I decided that today would be my first non-NES title, and the one that was the most requested was River Raid for the Atari 2600. So as I was looking to find the backstory, I finally found out (from reading the manual) that there is none; you are simply flying down the "River of No Return" trying to score as many points as you can. So as I started it up, I noticed a very large difference between this and the NES games I had been playing. So as I began, I immediately got the sense that I was playing a retro arcade game rather than one on a console. I could see certain elements of the game that have been taken and built upon in more modern games, especially games for the NES and XBLA/PSN. I would like to state before I start that I generally do not like arcade games, so that will have a pretty big effect on my impressions of this game.

What I Loved: There wasn't anything specific I loved about this game. I did like how the smoothly the difficulty changes as you progress through the river.
Everything you blow up gives you points

What I Hated: I just didn't like this game. I found it very repetitive and frankly, quite boring. There's no storyline or reason you're shooting you're way down a river, which is something that really bugs me when it comes to video games. I understand that the Atari hardware limits the amount of content you can put into the game, but because I grew up playing games that all had very interesting storylines, I want my games to have some form of a story. Another thing that annoyed me is that there is no end point; you simply keep flying and shooting until you run out of lives. This is because I enjoy being able to beat games, not having to beat myself. I simply lacked any sort of motivation to continue playing the game after my 3rd time through.
Flying over the fuel station refills your fuel

Overall Impression: It just couldn't hold my attention for more than 10 minutes. I can see how it inspired modern side scrollers, but appreciation could only take me so far. I found myself bored with the game after 10 minutes and wanting to go back to playing Contra. A large part of my dislike for this game is that I really did not appreciate it having no story or a reason for killing things. I'm fairly certain that my need for a story is a product of growing up on the Nintendo 64, where all of the games had a story of some sort. When I play games that lack any villain or goal to reach, it takes away the motivation for getting to the end. When I found out that there is no end, I lost all desire to play. There would be no self-gratification for beating a game if there is no ending. I can understand how it could have been very popular back then when there weren't many alternatives to play, but with the extent of games we have to choose from now, I just couldn't stop myself from playing Metroid instead.