Nostalgia Trip

I went through a closet I have been neglecting for many years now. A good amount of the stuff was clearly stacks of papers and other junk that I must have said, “I’ll get to this later.” Literally, stacks of stuff, stuffed into stuff, and then stuffed into even more stuff. I did find quite a lot of stuff I had long forgotten I had or presumed I had thrown out over the years.

Star Soldier

I played this game a lot, even though it was repetitive and I remember getting sick and throwing up from playing it too much as a child. The cover of the game is a soldier, a Star Soldier, if you will, holding a gun. Oooh, what’s this game gonna be? Well, it’s you in a space ship shooting at other ships/creatures in outer space. I actually have never played any of the sequels for some reason, it had games on several more recent systems, I should probably get on that, it maybe fun! But I digress, this was the NES version.

You pop this game on and you’re battling. You start off with two lasers which shoot out parallel, one at a time. Through the game, you get “P” power ups, and they upgrade you a tad. First you gain the ability for rapid fire. Next time you get a “P,” your ship actually morphs and you now shoot a stream back as well as the two front. Finally, the third “P,” changes the music, you now shoot in five directions, three in the front and two in the back, plus you have a shield now which can take bombs from enemies, after you took a couple though, you would shoot in the three directions again. Any “P” you get afterward will result in destroying all enemies on the screen. That’s pretty much it.

The enemies are plentiful and come in quite a variety. I actually enjoyed the bosses, probably just because they looked cool. There was a some kind of little brain, big brain, and a face you’d have to kill. I think there were 16 levels, every 4 you fought big brain. The face guy would show up usually in the middle of some stages. I wish I could remember the names. I used to think face guy was the coolest looking boss ever.

Anyway, what didn’t I like about this game. The hit detection seemed a little generous to the computer. Seemed like when you thought you had a little more room, you didn’t. Also, a lot of the game’s background which you fly over frequently was a very similar color to bombs and some enemies, making it very hard to steer clear. Also, you would fly under some of the background without warning occasionally, which seems helpful on paper, but you also lost your ability to shoot when this happened, and in the spots where you would come back out would usually be an enemy, resulting in your demise. Extremely frustrating sometimes, but otherwise it was a fun game. The first time I ever reached the brain boss, I didn’t kill it fast enough, and I received a message that it got away. I was unsure if this meant it escaped and I was advancing or I was going to be penalized. Turned out to be the latter, you get sent back halfway through the stage and have to reach the brain again, this time killing it.

I’d say this is a must play, but not a must have.

Face Guy

Big Brain

Super Mario Bros. 2

Yeah yeah, I know, this wasn’t supposed to be the sequel, but Japanese people apparently think us Americans with the big American penis also had small American gamepray abirity. It was originally Doki Doki Panic, but that name is stupid, so they slapped the world of Mario onto it and packaged it for us to play.

I was pretty psyched to get this game. When I first got my NES, it was Christmas of 1988, and Super Mario Bros. 3 was already out, so I ended skipping the second installment. I had certainly seen a lot of stuff taken from the game in the Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Finally, I was about to enter this new (old) mystical world. I popped in the game, selected a player, and …

The game went to a yellow screen and I was out of luck. Turned out my Nintendo was defective, I had to wait a long time. Finally, I got everything sorted out. Now was the time to actually play the game.

Apparently, I’m the only person in history to ever enjoy this game. You play as Mario, Luigi, Toad, or Princess Toadstool. They all handle slightly different, Mario is all around basic, Luigi is slow, but jumps the highest, Toad is super quick, and Princess Toadstool and float for like, five seconds. You start off the game by having two of four energy slots filled. You’re already big, only when you are on your last energy slot do you turn small. You basically can pick up everything the hurl it. Vegetables out of the ground, enemies, keys, bombs, potions, whatever you need. Mushrooms made it into this game as well, so, woo hoo. Mushrooms are what restore your life. The enemies are visually very fun. There’s plenty of side-scrolling, but also some fun puzzles to try and put together.

Now, because this game didn’t follow the same format as, just about any other Mario games from this generation, it was looked upon as a black sheep. Often, I speak to people who dislike this game a lot, but what’s not to like? Ok, there are no question blocks, and we skipped the goombas and koopa troopas this time around. What are you, an old man who doesn’t like nothin’ that’s different? Mouser was awesome. The bird head was awesome. That pink girl thing that spit eggs at you was awesome. Riding a magic carpet was awesome. This is also the game where we got bombs, better yet, Bomb-Ombs, one of my favorite things ever.

I sold my copy years ago, when the Super Mario All Stars compilation came out for the SNES. Excellent port, I’ve got a good mind to break it out and play it.

Anyway, you play the game to the end and encounter a fellow named Wart, who looks nothing like Bowser. After throwing a few vegetables into his mouth, he dies. That’s actually what happens to me if I eat vegetables, so now you all understand. Anyway, after you rescue what looked to be imprisoned angels, we dip to a screen in which we see Mario sleeping. It was all a dream. No wonder this adventure is so messed up. So there you have it. You can all be happy, there’s your explanation as to why this game was so different. It was basically the retro equivalent of Twisted Metal Black.

Rollergames

Rollergames was one of those “I have no idea what he likes, so I’ll just get him this one because it looks kind of cool and kind of relevant” games that you receive. I received mine from a woman named Kathy. Never in my life did I request anything that had to do with rollerskates or show any interest in roller derbies. Somehow, I ended up with this game

You know what? This game is fun!

You pop on the game and see some kind of roller derby. The announcers come on and explain that three “rough” teams have kidnapped the owner and three good teams can only save him. Yes, the announcer says that they can only save him, not that “only the three good teams can save him.” Anyway, you can pick one of three characters, each representing one of the aforementioned “good” teams. T-Birds, HotFlash, or Rockers. The character from T-Birds is a big fat lookin’ dude. The other teams basically have the same looking character, an 80s rocker. HotFlash is a girl, so she’s got pink hair, Rockers is a guy, so he has green hair.

You start the game, each boss taunts you about playing his zone. They say things that aren’t clever or amusing, “I will treat you well, ha ha ha.” See, it’s funny, because he is the bad guy and he will not treat you well. Get it? Anyway you’re skating through the streets. It’s basically a side-scrolling platformer beat-em-up, but you’re on rollerskates. You can jump, punch, jump-attack, and occasionally grab your opponents in headlocks, knee them a few times and hurl them across the screen.

The game can get frustrating at times, precise jumps are harder to plan because of the lack of traction you maintain on rollerskates, but it’s still a fun game to play. There aren’t really any power ups or much deeper gameplay to talk about. Some levels scroll automatically and you have to keep up and avoid obstacles. It’s a solid game and a fun game, but not a must play.

I’d say this is a game to try casually and see if you enjoy. Playing to win it could get extremely frustrating. I know, because I spent a lot of time on this one and never actually accomplished that task.

Friday the 13th for NES

I knew very little about Jason Voorhees before I received this game as a Christmas present from my Uncle Pat and Aunt Linda back in 1989. Jason was always the “other guy,” you know, not Freddy. Still, was excited about playing this game, I popped it in and rocked it out.

So I’m a counselor in a summer camp. Nevermind wasting time figuring out who to pick, just pick Mark. Mark makes being anyone else useless. He runs the fastest and jumps the highest.

So you explore the camp grounds. For some reason, this camp is over-run with zombies, evil birds, and wolves. You start off with an amazingly useless weapon, rocks. After killing enough enemies, you get a knife. Eventually, you find yourself exploring caves, which leads you to finding bats and Jason’s mother’s head (AKA Pamela Voorhees). If you beat her while possessing the knife, you will win the machete. If you already have a machete, you will get an ax. Along the way, you get keys, lighters, serum, and occasionally other items, like a flashlight and a torch. You also have to explore cabins which sometimes have notes in them. At the beginning of the game, you’re told to use the lighter to light fireplaces in the cabins. When I first began playing this game, I used to do this. Eventually, a torch would appear, which was a powerful weapon, but I seem to have lost my touch over the years.

The serum is to use on yourself or camp counselors who are not doing so well. The key, if I recall, is to get into the special room in the cave which Jason’s mother’s head is in, or the cabin in the forest. I don’t remember ever needing it to open a regular cabin. The flashlight allows you to see doors against the backdrop of the caves, however, usually the repeating stone pattern in the background (which is always visible) indicates doors just as well. There are also forests (which is where you encounter wolves). Occasionally you find a cabin in the woods, but the mystique is ruined when you realize it’s just a regular cabin where you find no cool objects and nothing really happens.

A Jason alarm goes off randomly and you have to find the cabin Jason is terrorizing. Occasionally he will just attack you along the road, but most of the encounters are in the cabins. Sometimes, you go into a cabin to discover Jason by surprise (however, somewhat ruined by his energy meter which appears right away). When in the cabins, you can switch to different counselors (all located in their own cabins). The strategy you don’t pick up on right away is that you can equip each counselor during the game, so that getting to and fighting against Jason is easier.

The cabins are 3D(ish). Jason only appears when you’re facing a specific direction, which gives the game some element of suspense and surprise. An ominous synthesized fanfare plays when Jason appears on screen, which I think adds a cool effect. Each time you encounter Jason, his arsenal increases, he starts bare-fisted, then gains the use of a machete, then the ax (which in the 3D setting looks like a toothbrush). Sometimes when you defeat him in a battle, you will receive a machete or ax. After going in an out of cabins a few times, night begins to fall and we are now in a much darker setting.

There are also cabins at a dock in the middle of the lake, which you can only get to by boat. The Jason alarm will go off indicating that these cabins are in distress. What makes these cabins special is that this is where the children are. For some reason, in this game, Jason kills children, which is something he specifically abstains from in the movies. While boating your way to the cabins, zombies comically pop out of the water and elevate almost to the top of the screen, then fall back into the water again in a hilarious attempt to slow you down from getting to the cabins on the lake. Jason also will occasionally zip past the screen, as if treading water in a upright position and doing so extremely fast.

So after you kill Jason, you receive a message that you have defeated Jason, but now he’s back and stronger. This happens two times before your third and final kill, which ends the game. The second time around, you return to the caves and fight Jason’s mother’s head once again. This time, you receive her sweater, which if you recall, was used in the second movie to gain a slight advantage over him. In the game, this allows you to take less damage. The third time around, you receive the pitchfork. The pitchforks a devastatingly good weapon, which also remains on the screen after it kills something and can kill multiple enemies.

The catch to all these weapons is that when you acquire one, you lose the previous weapon you had. What makes this even worse is that after you have acquired an ax, torch, pitchfork, etc., knifes still appear. So if you’re inclined to move around the game while jumping, there’s a good chance a knife will appear right in your path, you will pick it up by accident and presto, your pitchfork is gone forever. Sloppy programming.

Anyway, I enjoyed this game a lot as a child. Incorporating elements from iconic horror movies is never easy, especially with several sequels following it which fans will be familiar with. Also, making an NES game suspenseful cannot be an easy feat. If you haven’t ever played this game before, it’s one I would suggest playing and actually trying to win.

Wii Punch Out!! Review

Wii Punch Out CoverI think anyone who is roughly my age and older and had any interest in video games played Punch Out, or Mike Tyson’s Punch Out back in the late 80s. This game was awesome, there’s been plenty of great games from the past, but somehow, it was always very easy for me to pick up a controller and try my luck in the WVBA again. The characters were always so much fun to revisit. Sadly for me, over the years, defeating Mike Tyson/Mr. Dream grew more difficult as my timing declined with the lack of practice. The journey was always satisfying for me though.

For those who don’t know, Punch Out!! is a game for the original NES that takes place in a completely fiction boxing circuit called the WVBA. You play the role of Little Mac, a 17 year old kid from the Bronx, NY who weighs just over 100 pounds. Basically, the last person you would expect to be fighting pro boxers who are 6’3 and 250 pounds. Most of the fighters were flamboyantly patriotic to their respective countries, which made the colorful and gave them quite a bit of flair. After deciphering your opponents’ patterns and exploiting their weakness, you slowly overcome the odds and eventually become the World Champion and take on either Mike Tyson or Mr. Dream, depending on which revision of the game you got a hold of. Super Punch Out!! was released for the Super NES back in 1994. It featured new characters as well as characters from the NES version. It would be 15 years before we saw our friends from the WVBA again.

Once I heard that this game was coming out, I was psyched. I shot over to Video Game Buddy as soon as I got the call that this game was available. Lacing up the green gloves again was very exciting. We start with Glass Joe, as we did over 20 years ago. After a few snapshots of the opponent we are about to face in their element, the fight begins. I can’t help but wonder if the versions of the characters we see now are what the creators had imagined many years ago. Glass Joe yelling “viva la France” or Don Flamenco urging you to strike him with taunts of “vamos” and shouting “toro!” before throwing a punch at you. We have quick cut scenes between the rounds where your opponent will usually do something comical, followed by Doc giving you words of wisdom. By the way, the first thing I did during this was it the minus key, of course I heard a confirming jingle and when the next round started I had energy replenished. At the time of this writing, I’ve completed the Minor and Major circuit titles. So far, the game definitely feels like Punch Out!! I’ve opted to use the motion control instead of the old school method because, why not? It’s the Wii after all, I’m not so lazy that I can’t gingerly throw punches at cartoons yet. Let’s get to reviewing the game like they do on all the big websites.

Sound Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Nintendo did a great job with the voice acting and sound effects. The music is excellent, borrowing many a track from the original Punch Out!! and glorifying it further.

Graphics Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
It isn’t a huge surprise that the graphics are not the strongest feature of Wii Punch Out!! This is one of those games where it just really doesn’t matter. The characters are cell-shaded, which probably was the best avenue to take since the characters are based on their original cartoon counterparts.

Presentation Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆
I found myself getting very excited while watching the introductions for the boxers before a fight. The menus are flashy, but not too flashy. Load time is reasonable. For anyone who remembers what happens to Don Flamenco when you pound him enough in the NES game, you will not be disappointed this time around. One thing I don’t get, when did Doc develope this weird obsession with chocolate? They just throw it in, it feels kind of forced, but it is treated as if it’s something we’re just supposed to know like an inside joke.

Control Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Spot on for the most part and simple are the controls. Sometimes I found myself not executing head punches with as much accuracy as I would like. In some cases, I’d dodge left or right when I meant to throw a head punch. You can activate optional controls to throw head punches via the trigger buttons rather than the analog stick on the nun-chuck. I’m guessing the regular control is as easy as the NES controls. Nintendo has always stuck by the KISS method which works perfectly as far as I’m concerned. I have heard that the balance board is a crappy addition to the gameplay and just frustrates you above all else.

Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★
Gameplay is the feature that made the Punch Out!! series so legendary. The basic pattern-based combat mixed with colorful characters and some of the exhibition modes are just really fun, which is how all games should really be, fun. As I have been known to say, “Gameplay is key.”

Overall Overall Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Obviously, I’m very high on this game. It’s fun for anyone who played the original or SNES version, at the same time it introduces Punch Out!! to a new generation. I know not everyone has the same taste in games that I do, but I would say that Wii Punch Out!! is a must play. Maybe it isn’t a must buy, but I know it’s one of those games that playing it makes you want to play it more. Rent it, buy it, borrow it, play it at a friend’s house, just make sure you step in the ring at least once, you’ll be glad you did.