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Category — Video Game Bender

Games #58-73

#58: Parlour Games – Sega Master System.  The pool game is okay.  I couldn’t even hit the board in the darts game.  And a bingo video game?  Seriously?

#59: World Grand Prix – Sega Master System.  Have you played Pole Position?  Because this game is Pole Position.  Even the first track is the one from Pole Position1.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Pole Position, and this is a great imitator.  If you like Pole Position and want the same gameplay with different tracks, give this one a shot.

#60: Enduro Racer – Sega Master System.  This is like a cross-country Excitebike.  Just avoid the ramps or they’ll slow you down.  Unless they’re a ramp over a swamp.  Of course, you can’t see whether it’s a ramp over a swamp until you pass the ramp, so good luck.

#61: Double Dragon – Sega Master System.  Double Dragon is a lot like Double Dragon.  I’m forced to describe the game recursively because Double Dragon is the prime example of a button mashing street brawler.  I can’t say “It’s a lot like TMNT: The Arcade Game or Golden Axe”, because I’d say they’re a lot like Double Dragon if I were explaining them.  Anyway, I don’t like Double Dragon or the whole button mashing street brawler genre.  Punch punch punch punch kick punch throw punch kick pick-up-weapon accidentally-throw-weapon-in-the-wrong-direction punch punch kick jump-kick punch…  And that’s still fighting the first enemy on the first screen.

#62: Zillion II: The Tri-Formation – Sega Master System.  When the blurb on the box talks about “Bottomless Pits” as being one of the many dangers you’ll face, that should tell you something.  Oh, and what’s even better is that they’ve reversed the “Jump” and “Shoot” buttons, so they’re the opposite of EVERY OTHER GAME EVER MADE.  Which means attempting to jump over one of those bottomless pits usually means you end up shooting the opposite wall of the pit as you fall in.

#63: Paperboy – Sega Master System.  It’s Paperboy.  So why is it playing the music from Moon Patrol?  Actually, it’s only half of the music from Moon Patrol.  WTF?

#64: Columns  – Sega Master System.  Columns is sort of like Tetris, but not.  You’ve probably played it in some form or other.  Instead of having blocks you can rotate, you have a column of three colored crystals you can cycle.  The object is to get three or more of the same color in a row.  I think this game was the source for most of the “Jewel Drop” type games out there today.

#65: Thunder Blade – Sega Master System.  This game is half vertical shooter, half 3D Death Star Trench Run.  The 3D effect isn’t all that bad for the SMS, but sometimes your helicopter gets in the way.

#66: Ghostbusters – Sega Master System.  The C64 had speech synthesis.  Where’s my speech synthesis?  Sure, this one has better graphics and multiple ghost types, I still want to hear “He slimed me!”  Strangely, the main baddie in this game is “Gorza”.  I guess Gozer was taking a personal day or something.

#67: Time Soldiers – Sega Master System.  This game is what happens when Ikari Warriors becomes unstuck from time.  I remember liking this game in the arcade, because the arcade had  one of those rotational sticks for controlling the direction of firing, and it also had horizontal and vertical paths.  The SMS version doesn’t have either.  Instead, you end up jumping randomly between timezones.  I was told that I was going to the Primitive Age, yet I ended up in WWII.  Then, when I ended up in the Primitive Age (Complete with cavemen and fire spitting dinosaurs), I went about ten feet and was transported to the Roman era.  Weird.  There’s probably a pattern to it, but I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.

#68: Shadow Dancer – Sega Genesis.  A Shinobi game.  With a dog.  I kept getting killed on the first level.

#69: Dragon’s Fury – Sega Genesis.  A bit of a cross between a pinball game and a fantasy themed vertical shooter.  Orcs and wizards and things come out of some of the holes scattered around the pinball table, and you can kill them with the pinball.  The table has multiple levels, and I saw two separate bonus tables in the short amount of time I played.

#70: Last Battle – Sega Genesis.  This game is as generic as the cover art indicates.  The first level had spear-bearing ninjas randomly appearing and falling out of the sky or rising out of the ground like the undead.  A single punch or kick sends them flying off screen.  At some point, the main character’s bulging pecs caused his shirt to rip off, just like the Incredible Hulk.  Then I met up with some green thing in a Roman Colosseum which beat me down and I died.  Game over.  One life, no continues.

#71: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? – Sega Genesis.  She sneaks around the world from Kiev to Carolina, she’s a sticky-fingered filcher from Berlin down to Belize.  She’ll take you for a ride on a slow boat to China.  Tell me, where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?  This game is a pure classic.  And now I have that song stuck in your head and you’re welcome.

#72: Super Thunder Blade – Sega Genesis.  The 3D sections of this game are a disgrace to the word “Super”.  I think they looked better on the C64 version of Thunder Blade.

#73: Beyond Oasis – Sega Genesis.  I was having fun with this Zelda-style adventure RPG until I got killed by some lobster-spider hybrid boss.  I don’t think I even scratched it before it stomped all over me.  Still, I might give it a second chance.  I just wish the character moved a little bit faster and more fluidly.

And so ends this video game bender weekend…

  1. Apparently it’s the Fuji Speedway in Japan, but still.  If you’re going to make a Pole Position clone, try to be a touch less obvious. []

November 7, 2010   No Comments

Games #44-57 and Another System

#44: Lord of the Sword – Sega Master System.  This game reminded me a bit of Simon’s Quest.  It’s a side-scrolling adventure game, where you’re free to find your own way, and where townspeople give you various quests.  Unfortunately, it has limited continues and no save game/password ability.  I played this one for a decent bit of time, exhausting all of the continues and actually feeling that I made some progress in the game.  Unfortunately, the movement is slow and sometimes awkward1, combat isn’t very responsive2, and there were a ton of cheap hits from hard to see or avoid enemies.  Three pixels of a caterpillar sticking up above the grass just isn’t fair.  Wolves that lunge at you the moment they appear on screen so fast that you can’t even swing your sword to hit them just isn’t fair.

#45: Choplifter – Sega Master System.  This game was one of my favorite arcade games, and the SMS version is one of the most faithful to the arcade version.  (Choplifter on the 7800 and 5200 are both faithful to the original home computer version.)  So many quarters spent in the Silver City Mall…

#46: Kenseiden – Sega Master System.  This game plays like a samurai Castlevania.  With pot-bellied monkeys that are foaming at the mouth.  I gave up at the first boss, because it seemed like there was no way to avoid being hit by it, since it was too tall to jump over and flying too low to duck under.  I think if you hit it at just the right moment, you’d be safe as it passed through you, but I never quite got the hang of it.

#47: Rambo First Blood Part II – Sega Master System.  It’s like Ikari Warriors.  But with Rambo.  And without enemies that dance when they’re killed.

#48: B.O.B. – Sega Genesis.  “Robots are cool.”  “But gamers want edgy characters with attitude these days!”  “We can make a robot with an edgy attitude.”  “Do it!”  It’s got a well-animated robotic ant for the main character, and the selection of weapons and sub-powers is interesting, but that doesn’t really matter, since the game takes place in generic sci-fi industrial zone or generic sci-fi cave zone.  If there’s anything beyond that, I didn’t see it.

#49: Bubble and Squeak – Sega Genesis.  Colorful, charming, and bizarre.  This is a platform game with a few puzzle elements to it.  You have to get the kid Bubble and his giant blue cat friend Squeak to the barber pole in each level.  To do that, you’ll have to have the cat throw the kid into the air, have the kid kick the cat into a whirling ball of doom, and shoot stars at penguins with baseball bats or flying one-eyed piggy banks.

#50: Decap Attack – Sega Genesis.  You’re a mummy that can punch things with a face in its chest, and throw its head at enemies.  I think that’s about all there is to say on this one.

#51: Atomic Runner – Sega Genesis.  “The Deathtarians just killed my father and kidnapped my sister, so it’s time to get all Terry Fox on their asses and RUN RUN RUN!”  Might have been better if the game had a sense of speed or momentum.  But nope.  It’s more like a slowly scrolling horizontal shooter where you’re stuck on the ground.  You don’t even turn around when you press backwards, instead, you moonwalk.  To turn around, you have to press a different button, which leads to lamost instant death.  Who knew the Deathtarians would be so evil?

#52: Target Earth – Sega Genesis.  Mecha suits?  No.  Just…  No.  Oh yeah, one life and no continues.  Thankfully, I didn’t intentionally buy this game, it was sent to me by mistake when I ordered Trampoline Terror.

#53: Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle – Sega Genesis.  If “Generic Platformer Game” were in the dictionary, this would be the example they’d use.  And to think, Alex Kidd was Sega’s mascot before Sonic.

#54: Puggsy – Sega Genesis.  Raccoons steal a giant slug’s space ship and he’s out for revenge.  Revenge entails picking up barrels and seashells and kicking fish at parrots.

#55: Wonder Boy in Monster World – Sega Genesis.  A side scrolling action RPG adventure game, in the vein of Zelda II or Ys, but brighter and more colorful.  It’s a bit strange that the game starts off by telling you that monsters have invaded Monster World.  I’d have thought that monsters were already there…  Anyway, it’s a definite uphill from there, and I think I’m going to continue playing this game at some point.

I also hooked up my Philips CD-i.  The CD-i came out in the early 90’s, and was one of the first CD based systems.  Since it was one of the first CD-based systems, you get a lot of “CD-ROM” games for it, and I mean that in the worst sense.  Remember the days when games were pre-rendered CGI sequences or FMV scenes with short bits of “Photorealistic” nonsense in between?  The CD-i was full of that sort of thing.  It also had unresponsive controls, a high price tag, and an uncertain identity that left consumers unsure whether the system was meant to be an educational device or a game machine.  An interesting side note is that the CD-i grew out of a collaboration between Nintendo and Philips, for a CD-ROM extension for the Super Nintendo.  The add-on fell through, but Philips somehow ended up with the rights to produce a Mario game and several Zelda games.

#56: The 7th Guest – Philips CD-i.  Ooh, spooky.  This is what happens if you mix a ghost story with a copy of Games magazine.  This game is undeniably important in the history of gaming, but the gameplay itself did not survive the test of time.  I have to wonder how long it took them to render all of the 3D graphics in the game, given that an iPhone can probably do it in real-time today.

#57: Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon – Philips CD-i.  Zelda for the CD-i.  The legendary Zelda for the CD-i.  I have now played it.  It’s a lot like Waterworld.  Many people have said very bad things about it, but when you finally see it, your expectations are so low that you’re surprised that it’s really not that bad.  Okay, there’s plenty about it that is bad.  The cut scenes are just painful, the animation is bad, the voice acting is bad, the script is bad.  Character animation is choppy.  The control is a nightmare3 and its often difficult to see what surfaces are walkable or not.  You have to hit money with your sword to pick it up.    The difficulty is annoying, with lots of cheap hits that steal tons of hearts.  But, having said that…  The levels are beautiful.  The backdrops all look like they’re hand-painted, no tiles here.  The core gameplay idea is good, where there are limited areas available to you from the world map, and more areas open to you as you explore or get more items.  Each zone has several rooms, some of which have items or people to talk to or exits that open up other zones on the world map.  The zones are typically about five or so screens wide.  The enemies are well-drawn and detailed.  Even without the flaws, though, I have a hard time believing that this would have been accepted as a Zelda game.  It doesn’t look or feel like a Zelda game, not even Zelda 2.  But with a different princess, this could have had a chance.

  1. Just like Simon’s Quest… []
  2. Just like Simon’s Quest… []
  3. Up to jump, button 1 to attack, button 2 to use special weapons, enter doors, and enter the item select menu, and a third button on my controller is unused… []

November 7, 2010   No Comments

Games #25-43 and Another System

I hooked up the Atari 7800.  The 7800 was originally to be released in 1984, but the Great Crash caused Atari to shelve the release plans until 1986, when the NES had revived the home console market.  The 7800 was backward compatible with the 2600, so it has a huge library of games that can be played on it.  Unfortunately, it also has some of the most uncomfortable joysticks ever made.  Fortunately, I have a pair of European Atari gamepads designed for the 7800.

Anyway, I had a couple of technical difficulties yesterday, one of them involving the screenshot program.  I decided it would be faster to play a bunch of games, then come back later and deal with the screenshots and writing about the games.  Unfortunately, the screenshot program took a picture of part of the title screen of the first game, then quit.  So, almost 20 games later, no screenshots.  Yay.  Instead, here’s the carts or boxes and a quick rundown of each:

#25: Snafu – Intellivision.  Snafu is like Surround on the 2600, or like the Light Cycles from Tron.  It has a few variations, including a mode with four opponents.  It also has some of the best music on the system. 1

#26:  Tron Deadly Discs – Atari 2600.  This version is easier to control than the Intellivision version, and it seems to be clearer about how much health is remaining.  Unfortunately, it loses out on the ability to fire in any direction at any time, and I think this one is missing the Recognizer boss.

#27:  Deadly Discs of Tron – Intellivision.  This version is harder to control than the Intellivision verison, and it seems to be less clear about how much health is remaining.  Fortunately, it has the ability to fire in any direction at any time, and this one has a Recognizer boss.

#28: Midnight Mutants – Atari 7800.  This game is one of the most complex games on the system.  It really shows that the 7800 was capable of competing with the NES, had Atari gotten its act together earlier.  If it had come out in 1986, it could have been a game changer.  Instead, it came out in 1990, so it was game over.  This game is the closest the 7800 has to a Zelda style game, with exploration and items, plus, it’s got Grampa Munster.  How can you go wrong with Grampa Munster?

#29: Tower Toppler – Atari 7800.  Tower Toppler is known by many names.  Tower Toppler, Castelian, Nebulus…  All involve a space frog trying to climb and destroy a series of towers.  Most of the enemies in the game don’t kill you, they just knock you down to a lower level on the tower.  You only die if you fall off the bottom of the tower or if you run out of time.  And you will run out of time often.  This game also features a convincing 3D effect as the tower rotates behind your space frog.

#30: Scrapyard Dog – Atari 7800.  Scrapyard Dog is the only side-scrolling platformer on the system.  The only one.  Think about how many there were on the NES at the same time.  The game itself is pretty decent, with lots of jumping and secrets to find.  I keep meaning to dedicate some time to playing this game.  Now that I have the game room all set up, I might just have to do that.

#31: Donkey Kong – Atari 7800.  The game is Donkey Kong.  The music is a horrifying mess.  This game is an indication of why the Atari 7800 failed.  Most of the launch games for the system were the same old games that people had on the 2600.  They were five year old arcade games that no one was playing anymore.  No one wanted to spend $200 for the ability to play games that they didn’t actually want to play, when there was this other system that had a completely new style of game, where getting a high score was no longer the main objective.

#32: Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine – Sega Genesis.  Ever play Kirby’s Avalanche?  Same game, but set in the Sonic universe.  And by same game, I mean that the gameplay is IDENTICAL.  Even the graphics for the blobs that drop down is the same.  If you haven’t played it, this game is sort of like Dr. Mario, where groups of two colored blocks fall from the top and you try to set up blocks of the same color.  Four or more of the same color touching each other will cause the group to disappear, and you get bonuses for setting up large cascades.

#33: Dashin’ Desperadoes – Sega Genesis.  This game is a split-screen footrace between two cowboys who want to get the girl.  That sadistic, mean-spirited tease has these two cowboys running across half the world, watching them kick, punch, sabotage, and throw bombs at each other, just on the promise of a kiss.  This game, like OutRunners, seems like it requires two players to be any fun.  The CPU character in the single player game visibly cheats:  If you get too far ahead, he snaps to within two feet of you and immediately throws a bomb to knock you off your feet.

#34: Space Spartans – Intellivision.  Star Raiders with speech synthesis.  If you like Star Raiders, you’ll like this.  If you like speech synthesis, you’ll be impressed, but you probably won’t have any idea how to play, so the only speech synthesis you hear will be the computer telling you that all systems have been completly destroyed and that you’re about to be killed by the alien horde.

#35: Pinball – Intellivision.  Whoa.  This looks like a real pinball table.  This acts like a real pinball table.  Multiple flippers, bonus tunnels, bumpers, curved surfaces, it’s all there.  It’s like the people who wrote this game actually played pinball at some point in their lives, unlike the people who wrote Video Pinball for the 2600.  Plus, this game has cute puppies.  Any game with cute puppies gets bonus points.

#36: Hero – Atari 2600.  A very complex multi-level adventure for the 2600.  Your goal is to take your copter-pack into dangerous mines and rescue trapped miners, while avoiding spiders and bats and exploding TNT.  I feel should like this game more than I do.   Some of the deaths felt very cheap, like dropping into a new room directly on top of a spider that kills you instantly.

#37: Astroblast – Atari 2600.  This is the 2600 version of Astrosmash.  Since you use a joystick instead of the thumb-mangling Inty controller, I should like this game more, but I don’t.  The speed’s all wrong and the game just doesn’t feel right.

#38: Sentinel – Atari 2600.  I believe this is the only light-gun game on the 2600.  It came out in the late 80’s, so the sound and graphics are top notch for the system.  It’s a multi-stage horizontally scrolling shooter, where it’s your goal to defend the planet Neptune2 from attacking alien forces.  At the end of each stage, there’s a boss robot to defeat.  I can easily say that it’s the best light gun game on the 2600.  Don’t confuse this with The Sentinel, the 3D game about robots that eat trees.

#39: Shove It! – Sega Genesis.  Sokoban.  A testament to stupid warehouse design.  Anyone who’s tried to clean their garage or pack things up for a move has played this game in real life.  It is a good version of Sokoban, but still, you’re just pushing boxes around.  Some day, I’m going to force myself to finish this game… 3

#40: Barnyard Blaster – Atari 7800.  This game forces you to shoot chickens and cute fluffy bunnies.  What kind of horrifying game is this?  The game is a light gun game with several screens of farm themed shooting.  Bottles on the fence, watermelons in the yard, owls in the barn, etc.  Somehow, this game is more morally abhorrent to me than GTA is.  “You shot Gramps!  No bonus!”

#41: SubTerrania – Sega Genesis.  This game is similar to Thrust, Gravitar, or Solar Jetman, only with a greater emphasis on combat and higher gravity.  I died within about 20 second when a giant robot punched me.

#42: Trouble Shooter – Sega Genesis.  Horizontally scrolling SHMUP featuring two teenage girls in with jet packs who are excited about going to the mall to fight evil, because the cute shoes might still be on sale.

#43: Rocket Knight Adventures – Sega Genesis.  Back in the nineties, pretty much every animal had a platformer.  There were hedgehogs and geckos and bats and bandicoots.  Rocket Knight Adventures has a possum.  A possum in a rocket-powered suit of armor with a boomerang.  The graphics are bright and detailed, but the controls will often have you rocketing around out of control in a direction you didn’t want to go.

  1. Well, okay, some of the only music on the system… []
  2. Or it’s a giant beach ball…  I’m not sure… []
  3. BTW, the password for level 2 is MARINA []

November 6, 2010   No Comments

Game #24: Penguin Land – Sega Master System

Penguin Land is cute.

Penguin Land is colorful.

Penguin Land has cheerful music.

Penguin Land is evil.

The goal of Penguin Land is to help a space penguin roll its eggs into the secret penguin base under the surface of the moon.  You can dig out blocks to open a path to the platforms below, but if the egg falls too far, it cracks.  If it gets crushed, it cracks.  If a underground space polar bear hits it, it cracks.  If you land on it and it has nowhere to roll, it cracks.  If you leave it alone too long, an underground moon bird will drop a brick on it and it cracks.

In other words, the egg cracks.  Often.

Still, it could be fun, if you have the patience.

November 5, 2010   No Comments

Game #23: Vectorman – Sega Genesis

Good graphics, good music.

No continues.

November 5, 2010   No Comments

Game #22: Technoclash – Sega Genesis

Something about wizards and robots and Las Vegas.  Whatever.  Next!

November 5, 2010   No Comments

Game #21: Phantom 2040 – Sega Genesis

This game was supposed to be like Metroid.  It feels like it’s supposed to be like Metroid.

But it starts off with a boss fight, where it’s not even clear that it is a boss fight and not clear that you’re hurting the boss or the boss is hurting you.

Then you end up in a sewer/train tunnel/jungle temple/cyber base, where you wander around aimlessly, looking for switches to destroy that open up doors.  That might have been fun if something were going on, but really, it feels like there’s a huge area that the designers forgot to put enemies in.  All I ever found in this temple/train sewer place were birds.  That don’t hurt you.

I know Metroid.  Metroid is a good friend of mine.  You sir, are no Metroid.

November 5, 2010   No Comments

Game #20: Blockade Runner – Intellivision

Um…  See, with He-Man and Slime World, at least I was able to play them.  The gameplay was possible.  I didn’t really understand why someone would want to play them for very long, but at least they were playable.  Blockade Runner is not.

You’re in a space ship, and stuff keeps coming at you.  You can’t avoid it and you can’t shoot it.  And so you die.

WTF?

Blockade Runner is a cross between Starmaster and Suck.

November 5, 2010   No Comments

Game #19: Masters of the Universe – Intellivision

I don’t get it.

You fly around, shooting fireballs and dropping bombs on Skeletor. 1

Then you land and Skeletor throws fireballs at you.  When you reach him, there’s a sword fight and Skeletor runs away.

Then Skeletor runs into his evil lair and throws more fireballs at you.  Then there’s another swordfight and you get back in your ship and shoot more fireballs and drop more bombs.

  1. Neither of which is actually that blurry in-game… []

November 5, 2010   No Comments

Game #18: Astrosmash!

Astrosmash and I have a complicated relationship.  I love this game, but it hurts me.  Literally.  This game is painful to play.  Once you get up around15-20K points, you’ll understand.

The concept is simple.  Shoot the rocks for points and avoid getting hit by the rocks yourself.  If you miss a rock and it hits the surface, you lose points.  In addition to the rocks, there are homing missiles which come after you and diamond shaped bombs which will kill you if they hit the surface.  It’s sort of a cross between Asteroids and Stampede and Repetitive Strain Injury.

You will rack up a lot of lives early on.  You get an extra life every thousand points.  However, the speed gradually increases, as does the amount of stuff getting thrown at you.  By the time you reach around 20K points, you’ll probably watch your score decrease more often than increase, and you’ll eat though those 13 lives very quickly.

And did I mention this game hurts?  You’re moving back and forth and squeezing the triggers so fast that you will be in pain.  Seriously.

November 5, 2010   No Comments