Favorite games from every year of my life – Part 1

Yes, it’s another one of those posts. No, I was not invited or challenged, deal with it. Yes, I am so old that I have to break this up into multiple parts, but OH WELLLLLLLL! Now on with the self-explanatory show…

These first few entries will be pretty brief since I was busy spending the first few years of the 80’s learning to walk and use a toilet and such. I did have a cousin with an Atari 2600 and a huge pile of games though, so I really did play these early ones, just not in the actual years of their release.


1980

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Night of the Emus

A great lesser-known side-scrolling action game from Capcom. It has absolutely nothing to do with Street Fighter other than the main character being a guy named Ken who punches things. Ken is apparently a scientist and former street fighter champion, so I suppose it’s possible that he’s actually supposed to be Ken Masters, but the game never gets into that. No, you’re too busy trying to track down whoever killed your lab partner, stole your science experiment, and spread it around all over the galaxy to turn everyone into weird alien monsters. To do this you have to warp around to different alien worlds looking for infected creatures to beat up so you can warp to the next world, with the idea being that each warp is going to bring you closer to your final objective (somehow).

As was so often the case back then, this game was extremely tough. Not like Battletoads or Ghosts n’ Goblins tough, but still pretty difficult. You have a surprisingly large variety of attacks for having only two buttons to work with. Pressing attack while stationary and doing it while holding a direction or jumping all do different kinds of attacks and of course the game doesn’t explain any of this to you, so you need to figure out how to fight properly on your own and very quickly, as you’re immediately thrown into the action without a second to spare. This is also one of those games where you need to rush to find power-ups to increase your attack strength too, because you’re going to be too weak to beat the deadly creatures otherwise. Unfortunately, you also lose attack power every time you get hit, so you really need to git gud quick if you want to have a chance.

Anyway, there are a lot of interesting levels with a huge roster of crazy bosses to fight, and a great soundtrack. It’s one of my favorite NES classics even though I don’t remember 2010 being anything like this.

Silver Surfer is a shooter that rotates between side-scrolling and vertical scrolling. It’s one of those games that you always seem to see on those “Top 10 hardest NES games” lists, but again, I don’t think it’s THAT bad. Yes it’s tough. You die in one hit and lose all your attack strength power-ups when you do, but if you can just survive long enough to get your attack strength up then you start blasting through all the waves of enemies pretty quickly. There’s also a password system and a bunch of helpful cheats available, so it’s all very do-able.

As a kid, I appreciated that they included a lot of familiar faces from the Silver Surfer series of the 80’s, which made it feel a little like maybe the creators actually read the things, unlike most other early comic-based games. Once you really start playing it though, it was clear that they were just making this all up. I have no idea why I had to fight through some hell-like plane filled with angry flying pumpkins to get to Firelord and etc. The weirdest thing was when you finished all the main areas, Galactus sends you off to fight the final battle in the “Magik realm”, which is apparently ruled by…Mr. Sinister? Weird.

Probably the most noteworthy thing about this game though, is the music. The soundtrack was absolutely insane for an NES game. I like a lot of old-timey 8-bit music, but this one always stood out as being impressively complex and surprisingly metal for its time. Even if you never actually play this game, you should still check out the soundtrack. I dare you to listen to this song and not turn it up and want more.

This was one of those strange arcade classics that everyone loved to play, but no one could actually understand it or beat it. You beam into these alien infested ships and are told to wipe out the infestation, but it just doesn’t seem possible. You can run around blasting aliens like crazy, but you never seem to be able to get anywhere close to clearing them all out before time runs out and the ship self destructs, which teleports you out of the level and tells you you failed. The best outcome seems to be if you can find the self-destruct system and set it to go off early, which you would think would also be a loss, but instead congratulates you and gives you bonus points. I suppose the ideal victory would be to completely wipe the aliens out somehow, but this doesn’t seem to be possible by yourself. My best efforts only ever got them down to about 40%.

I suppose it doesn’t much matter in the long run, as this seems to be one of those good old endless games, like Gauntlet or Rampage, that just goes on and on and on until you run out of quarters and die. It’s still fun in short bursts though. This is one you really need to experience the original arcade version of too, as the NES version had to be one of the absolute worst arcade-to-home ports ever made. I mean I know the NES was very limited compared to arcade tech back then, but just look at how damn ugly it was.

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.

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.

Now Playing: Resident Evil 6 (2012)

Resident Evil 6 is kind of the ultimate culmination of all the games that came before it, packing in most of the major characters, several new ones, and various familiar and new types of monsters of all shapes and sizes, all in a lengthy, globe-spanning game made up of four inter-connecting campaigns. Eh, it’s got action in it though, so clearly IT SUCKS, BRO!

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Now Playing: Resident Evil 0 (2002)

Replaying a few classic Resident Evils lately since 7 is just around the corner now. First being the recent re-release of zerooooooooooooo.

Zero is much like any other pre-4 game in the series except for one little thing: the weird “co-op” system. You can’t actually play co-op, but instead play as both Rebecca and Billy and can switch between them at almost any time and set one or the other to defend you and stuff. This sounds like a good idea, but really doesn’t have much use outside of all the puzzles designed specifically for more than one character. In fact, they had to cut out the item box system just to accommodate for the new “co-op” bits, because both of you being able to grab anything you want out of the magical teleporting item boxes would break all the forced “co-op” puzzles and areas. Now instead of the item box you can just drop and pick things up anywhere you want, which seems nice until you progress a little and find out that you can only drop so many items in a room (and it’s a different, invisible number for each room), making organizing and keeping track of items harder than it has to be.

Then there’s that moment when you realize “oh shit. I’m going to have to run all the way back to that room (or rooms) in the previous building if I want any of the many weapons, ammo packs, health items, and other various items I left back there because two characters’ personal inventories are not even close to being able to handle the amount of stuff you need to pick up in this game.” You’ll have to keep repeating this process every time you go to a new area too. Even if you leave all the health items and other non-essentials behind, you’re still not going to have room for any extra guns and ammo unless you do a supply transplant run every time. It actually gets pretty damn tedious and annoying.

Still…it’s a pretty solid Resident Evil game anyway.

Also this latest re-release has apparently added “Wesker Mode”, where you can play through the game as Wesker and evil Rebecca and Wesker has special Wesker powers like a dash move and magic head-exploding eye beams. Sure, why not.

The Vita Report

wizorb1

Wizorb is basically Arkanoid, except everything looks almost exactly like Link to the Past. The promotional material for the game tries to make it look kind of semi-RPG like a Zelda game, but it’s really not. There are shops where you can buy power-ups that you lose when you die, and you, being a “wizorb”, do have spells, but only a few, and you never get any new ones. No, this is just a game about hitting balls to break blocks. One that has bizarrely large chunks of levels between checkpoints. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as it looked from the trailers, but it was ok.

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