Night Of The Emus

Well, what was going to be another night of old games turned into a night of just Ghostbusters, because this game is way longer than I remember it being. It ended up taking almost 5 hours. It would have taken much longer without save states. This is yet another game where I have no idea how I was able to beat it legitimately as a child. The controls are pretty clunky, but manageable after some practice. The levels are confusing mazes of platforming that require you to find and defeat all the “lesser” bosses before the door to the final boss opens, but even the regular bosses can be really nasty customers. Sometimes they’re actually even worse than the final boss they lead to. The bosses are the both the best and worst thing about this game. They’re all really well designed, visually, but many of them have such a ridiculous amount of health, and/or such tiny weak spots that are the only place you can deal them damage, that it really begins to test your patience.

There are some weapons and upgrades to buy between levels, but they’re so expensive that you can only really afford to buy 1 or 2, and most of them aren’t really all that helpful. You just have to learn to rely on your pitiful little normal gun if you happen to pick the wrong items to blow your money on. I guess I really should have played this on Easy too. Didn’t even think about it until after the fact. Ooops! Maybe I should get back to all those Castlevania games I’m supposed to be playing…

NIGHT OF THE EMUS

This game was so much better in the arcade, but I’m not about to go buy a ball controller just to play arcade Marble Madness in MAME, so I guess I just have to settle for the old NES version! This game is not great. It’s ridiculously short, but also mind-numbingly difficult, mainly just due to the awful controls. I have no idea how I was able to beat this as a kid. A lot of practice I guess. I can’t imagine spending more than 20-30 minutes on this game nowadays. I would play the shit out of it if I saw the arcade version somewhere though.

My cousin had this game for some reason and that’s the only reason that I ever played it, because no one else in their right minds would ever buy this game. This is another one where the game is actually incredibly short, but also painfully, unfairly difficult, so the playtime is padded out with godawful replay after replay. You just keep moving your boat back and forth between the same two ports over and over again, farming shells as much as you can because each time you reach a port you can use shells to get power upgrades and you cannot possibly beat the first phases of the Jaws battle without many power boosts. Once you finally have enough power to beat Jaws, who you keep running into over and over again randomly throughout your repetitive journey, if you manage to whittle his life bar down you get to engage in the final battle sequence. In the final battle Jaws rushes toward your boat in a crazy serpentine pattern and you have to hit A to use a strobe light, which makes him leap out of the water for some reason, but he has to be in the exact right spot in front of you for you to press B to stab him with the front of the boat, which you also have to do at the exact right moment. You only get three shots and if don’t do it you’re kicked back out to the normal game where Jaws now has his entire health bar again. HOORAY. Don’t play this game unless you have some kind of weird masochistic nostalgic attachment to it. Just don’t do it.

Arrrrgh. This is actually even worse than Jaws. Iconic crane kicks, leg sweeps, and levels and mini-games that vaguely resemble the movies aren’t enough to cover up the foul stench here. Karate Kid has horrible combat and even worse controls. It’s also another embarrassingly short one. Again, you should not play this game. Why did I play this game? I think I might have sworn off playing it forever last time, but then forgotten because it was so long ago. Then I drank a lot and it seemed like a good idea to play it again. Note to future self: STOP PLAYING THIS DAMN GAME! (I will totally end up playing it again 10 years from now anyway, I just know it…)

Because I’m making so many very bad decisions tonight, I decided to play Total Recall next. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? WHAT AM I DOING? WHY ARE MIDGETS JUMPING OUT OF HALLWAYS TO PULL ME INTO KUNG FU BATTLE TRAPS THAT DIDN’T EVEN HAPPEN IN THE MOVIE WTFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF! No, I can’t do it, it’s too much. This game is just too terrible. It does have a super catchy theme song though for some reason.

I bet nostalgia will trick me into playing this one again someday too, but not today, no, not today…

Time for at least one decent one to wash the taste of all that crap out of my mouth. Ehhhh. Captain Skyhawk doesn’t hold up super well either, but it’s still miles ahead of the last few games. You fly what appears to be an F-15 around blowing up bad guys, except you’re flying through some weird geometric places that look like the 1970s’ idea of what virtual reality looked like, and also sometimes taking place in Top Gun/Afterburner style dogfights, and also sometimes in space. Just flying your F-15 around in space, because fuck it, it’s just an NES game, why even try to make it make sense? It’s an ok game though. I guess.

I don’t know why I picked such crappy games tonight. Just feeling flagellant, I guess (I KNOW THAT’S A NOUN! WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?!).

2361136-nes_astyanax.jpg

This is a somewhat clunky, but still pretty solid sidescrolling hack and slash game with an absolutely horrendous story. The music is kind of simplistic and repetitive, yet oddly catchy. The level design is questionable at times, but there are a lot of cool boss fights. It’s not one of those absolutely essential NES titles, but it holds up well enough to still be fun.

SuperSpyHunter.jpg

Now THIS is one of those absolutely essential NES titles. Super Spy Hunter takes the catchy formula of Spy Hunter and improves on it in every possible way. It’s got cool upgradable future cars with roof turrets that you can aim in 360 degrees and a bunch of explosively crazy boss fights. Killer soundtrack too. Probably the best thing Sunsoft ever did aside from Blaster Master.

49944_front

Sometimes our fond memories are misleading and we forget that there were games we had that we forced ourselves to enjoy because we had them, were stuck with them, and had nothing better to do. This is one of those games. Holy shit this game is shoddy. The cutscenes are so basic and unfinished, and the art from them is just constantly recycled, and the dialogue is just abysmal. I mean, I know that the dialogue in most NES games is goofy and semi-incoherent, usually due to translation issues, but this is especially badly and lazily written even by those standards. The gameplay is just a broken mash-up of Shinobi and Rolling Thunder, and the boss fights are just horrible.

This fight is even worse than it looks. Why did I ever think this was cool? What the fuck was wrong with me? I suppose I was just happy to have another ninja game, but man, this is just complete trash. Give me Ninja Gaiden or Shinobi over this crap any day.

The Vita Report

sky-force-anniversary-listing-thumb-us-ps4-25apr16.png

This seemed like a fun little vertical shoot-em-up with pretty good graphics, but the joke was on me because it turns out that this game follows some godawful free-to-play mechanic where you can only make progress by grinding the same levels over and over again for hours or as the internet informs me, by spending real money on buying special ability cards. Even worse, I didn’t see anything about these cards or any purchases anywhere in the game. I guess those features are only for PC and full consoles? So I would have no choice but to grind endlessly. Yeah, no thanks. Congratulations Infinite Dreams Inc., you suckered me out of $3. Very impressive.

soldnerx2

This one was a side scrolling shoot-em-up that looked a little more flashy and didn’t seem to have any slow grinding involved. They got me again though. There’s no free-to-play aspect here, but there is a bottleneck where you can’t play the last few levels until you meet certain conditions. I played through most of the game, but was locked out of the last level because I still needed to find at least 4 secret keys in each of the preceding 6 stages. I was only missing a few, but I tried a few times and just couldn’t seem to find them. I tried to look for more information online and found that some keys would only appear if you had above a certain rank at just the right time. I tried to look for the ones that weren’t like this, but the guides were pretty vague and I couldn’t seem to find anything in the areas they described. With my only choice apparently becoming another endless grinding scenario, I just gave up and moved on. Another $3 wasted. Wahhh.

dragonscrownbanner

Oh good. This was a bit more fun. Dragon’s Crown is kind of an RPG/beat-em-up with a pretty fun combat system and some bizarrely over-sexualized lady characters that were the subject of some controversy back in the day. Ehhhh, let’s not even get into that whole thing again. Anyway, the game is fun enough, but sure loves to give you the runaround. Sidequests will send you back to the same levels over and over again and the main story even becomes a continuous loop eventually, wanting you to play each and every level over and over again with increasing difficulty because….reasons. I’ve come to realize that despite the nice visual design and gameplay that Vanillaware brings to their games, they sure do like to pad things out with a lot of forced repetition. Muramasa was much the same, and I hear Odin Sphere was too. I kind of wish they’d just let these games end normally and go out on a high note instead of all this artificial lengthening, but I guess some people are into this kind of never-ending repetitive post-game content. Oh well.

overseer

One of the free games of the month on PSN, Neon Chrome seems to get compared to Hotline Miami a lot, but it really isn’t that kind of game. It’s a top down dual-stick shooter, but that’s about the only thing they have in common. This game is a randomly generated roguelike that’s got some pretty enjoyable gameplay. This is another game that suffers from a poor ending and repetitive post-game content though. You have to fight through 27 floors to win, with a boss fight every 5 floors or so. The first boss is a giant robot spider thing, the second is a big robotic worm, the third is some flying tank thing, but then the fourth is…three of the first giant robot spiders, and the fifth and final boss is…another giant robot spider, and that’s it. This is not one of those roguelikes where the bosses are randomly selected from a big list either, those are all the bosses every time.

As usual with a roguelike, once you win you’re expected to start all over again, but this time it’s even harder. With the lack of variety in bosses and no new characters or anything particularly exciting looking worth spending more time unlocking, I just stopped after the first victory. I would maybe give it a play again someday, but it just didn’t have enough going for it to warrant immediate multiple playthroughs like Binding of Isaac or Risk of Rain.

lonesurvivor

Lone Survivor is a game I’m still not sure how to feel about. It wants to be a 2D Silent Hill, and in some ways it’s very successful at that. The pixel art is nice, the sound and music are effectively creepy, and the need to sleep, eat, and maintain your character’s mental health add an interesting twist to things. Unfortunately there is a severe lack of enemy variety, a nearly incomprehensible plot that seems to have taken a lot of cues from David Lynch, and a very abrupt and unsatisfying ending. Still, it’s entertaining enough for a short diversion, if you’re really into Silent Hill type games.

Hitler No Fukkatsu: Top Secret! This is what would come to be known to us English speakers as Bionic Commando. I always wanted to play the original, uncensored version and now thanks to the wonders of random strangers on the internet with too much time on their hands, this game can now be played in English. It wasn’t really much different though. Hitler is now openly referred to as Hitler instead of Master D, not that anyone who played the censored version couldn’t tell who he was, there’s a lot of swastikas and really atrocious dialogue that was supposed to be what a German accent sounded like, and a couple more light swear words popped up. That’s about it. Nothing else was different. Having finally played it, I think I actually prefer the censored version. As bad as the translation to English was in the U.S. version, it was actually better (and more pleasantly familiar) than the dreadful pseudo-German nonsense.

Speaking of Bionic Commando, did you know that there were a bunch of people that were upset about Super Joe being the villain in that “modern” Bionic Commando game from 2008 or so? You know, Super Joe? The guy that had like 2 whole lines of dialogue in the game, who spent almost the entire game in captivity while you did all the work and then basically took credit for it all in the end? I CAN’T BELIEVE IT, HE SEEMED LIKE SUCH A NICE GUY!

What? You’ve never heard of SHADOW BLASTERS? By SAGE’S CREATION?? Yeah, I don’t know. It was just another one of those weird Genesis games that you never heard of outside of the local video store. It has a weird kind of tag-team system kind of like TMNT for NES, but it’s also kind of a shooter and you can raise the power levels of each of your 4 guys as you take them through a bunch of weird levels and bosses. It’s a little clunky, but it’s mostly fun. The soundtrack is one of the best you’ll ever hear on a Genesis game too. Just listen to that shit:

URGHHHHH. THEY GOT ME AGAIN. GOT ME AGAIN WITH THE GHOULIN’ AND THE GHOSTIN’! This fucking game. It pulls the exact same trick as the first one. Get to the end? Fuck you. You didn’t get the magic item back in level 2 (which I’m almost completely certain is not actually there for you to get during your first playthrough), so now you have to start all over from the beginning.

Man this game doesn’t hold up well at all either, also much like its predecessor. It’s a very early Genesis game, one that clearly wasn’t familiar with the technology yet, and it shows. The graphics are really inconsistent. The music is awkward and seems almost unfinished. The sound effects are just embarrassing. I thought the game was glitching out or something, so I went to look up some videos and no, it really actually sounds like that. The hit detection is just unbelievably bad. If a game came out in this state today it would destroy the series it was attached to overnight, but somehow everyone was ok with this back then. Sometimes…sometimes nostalgia is wrong.

It’s a shockingly shoddy game and it takes great joy in crushing you with objectively unfair odds and broken mechanics and acting like it’s your fault for not being good enough. Well, I’m not fallin’ for it this time. I’m not playing you again to get the real boss and I’m not gonna play the damn sequel after this either! Take that, already dead Ghosts n’ Goblins franchise!

Now Playing: Highway Hunter (1994)

I’ve been neglecting my old computer since I got that new tv…so I must rectify that with some old-timey games, starting with Highway Hunter!

There’s not a lot to say about Highway Hunter, really. It’s kind of a Super Spy Hunter clone published by Epic Megagames back in the 90s. It’s simple and fun and has a decent, if a little amateurish, 90s midi soundtrack.

I’m not entirely sure why it didn’t get any of the recognition that other similar games of the time, like Raptor or Tyrian, got.

It had good variety in its levels, enemies, and weapons. It had a lot of interesting level locations and bosses. It even had a level where it turns out that the road you’ve been driving on is actually a giant snake and the boss is the snake’s head, and somehow you blow up the snake’s head and drive off into the sunset on the body of the snake whose head you just blew up, which makes no fucking sense at all but damn is that fucking metal or what?

The only downsides are that the game has some slowdown issues even on modern systems and is pretty short, about 90 minutes to blow through all 3 episodes. Very solid, fun little 90s shooter though.

Now Playing: Resident Evil – Outbreak File #2 (2004)

Yeah. Just not feelin’ this one. It’s just too similar to the first one, which is to say it’s a barely tolerable version of Resident Evil with a lot of running around through empty rooms full of sticks and toilet brushes, unpleasant battles with dumbed-down, poorly animated versions of enemies you’ve fought a million times before, and constant fucking inventory management due to your insanely tiny carrying capacity and braindead AI companions. It’s not terrible enough to have stopped me from playing one of them, but when the second one is basically just the exact same thing all over again, nope, can’t do it again. Not going to waste any more time on this unpleasant game. The Outbreak games just don’t hold up well at all compared to the real older Resident Evil games. Resident Evil Outbreak can go back to being the forgotten bastard child of Resident Evil like it deserves.

Now Playing: Outlast 2 (2017)

Wooooo Outlast 2 is here! We always need more new (good) horror games, and this one did not disappoint. Outlast 2 plays much like its predecessor, with enough gore and depravity to make even the strongest of stomachs turn at least once and hours worth of tense hide and chase scenes where a whole new batch of disgusting maniacs want to do terrible things to your special bits.

Continue reading “Now Playing: Outlast 2 (2017)”

Before there was the fancy 8 MEGA MEMORY Strider for Genesis that most people think of when you say Strider, there was the original NES version that has always held a special place in my brain. To this day, I still remember the password for the last level (it’s DMCC BGCP CPOD, if you were wondering). I don’t know what it was about this game that gave me such a semi-obsession as a kid. Looking back, it’s a glitchy and clumsy game, that is far from the tightest thing Capcom has ever produced, even by 8-bit standards. The level design and amount of convoluted backtracking involved is questionable, to say the least, and the jumping is just a mess, but dammit…I like Strider. The weird levels, interesting enemies, bizarrely barely coherent plot, and awesome Capcom 8-bit music just won’t let me let go of my Strider fixation. It’s still a game that I have to pick up and play again every few years and I doubt I’ll ever stop.

Oh, Ghosts ‘N Goblins. The game that everyone in 1985 thought was so cool, but no one could even come close to beating. It’s weird that you never seem to see this one mentioned on any of the goofy “top 10 hardest old games” lists you always see. This was much worse than Battletoads. Seriously, if you ever meet someone that says they can beat this game without cheating, call the fucking FBI or something, because that person is some kind of evil mutant or wizard and they’re probably about to suck the life force out of you.

Not content with simply being perhaps the most difficult game ever released on the NES, Ghosts ‘N Goblins also trolls the shit out of you like you wouldn’t believe. If you somehow manage to make it all the way to the last boss and beat him, the game tells you:

and you not only are sent back to the beginning, but now the game is even fucking harder. That’s not everything either. If you manage to do it all again and finish the level right before the final boss again, if you don’t have the cross weapon equipped the game happily tells you that your weapon is useless in this battle and doesn’t just send you back to the beginning of the level where you can find a cross, but shoots you back two whole levels, because fuck you, that’s why! If you somehow manage to make it through ALL OF THIS BULLSHIT, which let me tell you, it’s not easy even using save state spamming, you finally win and

Hooray! I’ve always wanted to beat that game. Now let’s never, EVER speak of this again.