Night of the Emus

I’m amazed at how much of this I remembered how to do after all these years, though there were still a few things I had to look up again, because holy shit was this game complicated. I don’t think I ever would have made it through it back in the day if I hadn’t borrowed the notes of a friend. Fun times though. Playing this again because I really want to finally get around to trying out Beyond Shadowgate some time soon. Always wanted to play that even though it’s probably terrible. I wouldn’t mind busting out the old Deja Vu again too, but I remember even less about how to play that one.

Immediately upon starting this I was almost overwhelmed with nostalgia power, because holy shit this is just one of those quintessential NES games that really highlights how impressive the games could be despite the huge limitations of the time. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the fucking cheapest games around too. The Tyson fight at the end is just insane and it’s massively unfair too. I managed to knock him down about four times over the three rounds, and he didn’t knock me down once (because I cheated), and they STILL DECLARED HIM THE DECIDED WINNER AT THE END! That’s bullshit. You don’t just start back at the beginning of the fight if you lose either, you have to go back and do the previous Super Macho Man fight all over again too. ARGHHHH. I don’t think I was ever able to beat that final Tyson fight even as a hyper-reflexed kid. It’s just ridiculous. Still, fun game though, other than that.

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?!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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!

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.

So now that I have a smart tv packed full of emulators, it seems that I’m going to be playing a lot more classic games again. I won’t be able to take proper videos of the action like I could on the old PC, but eh, whatever. I’ll just have to talk your heads off in this horribly-named new feature instead.

One of the nice things about emulators is that you can play rare translated foreign games or odd little hacks like the Ninja Gaiden 3 easy mode hack version. Most people who played NES back in the day will tell you good things about Ninja Gaiden 1 and 2, but no one will ever say “boy that Ninja Gaiden 3 sure was great!” though. Arguably the biggest reason behind this was the bizarre spike in difficulty in what was already a near-obscenely difficult series. The levels and enemies were even tougher than before, but even worse was the fact that Tecmo had now slapped a 5 continue limit on you, making the game virtually impossible to finish legitimately. This hacked version tones things down a bit and does away with the continue limit, but make no mistake, it’s still an incredibly difficult game.

Unfortunately, even with the difficulty issues removed, it’s just an inferior game to its predecessors all around. The story is goofy nonsense about mutant clones and inter-dimensional invaders and there just isn’t anything particularly new or memorable about any of the levels or enemies. It’s still a classic Ninja Gaiden game, and so it’s not entirely devoid of fun, but it’s just one of those lazy just-more-of-the-same sequels that doesn’t really bring anything of its own to the table.

Fatal Rewind was one of those weird Genesis games that you found randomly at the video store, but never heard of anywhere else. This was back in the day when EA was pumping out a lot of weird, obscure Amiga ports for Genesis and doing a terrible job of advertising any of them. Fatal Rewind dug its own grave even deeper by being unbelievably difficult. The premise is that you’re on a futuristic reality TV show where you have to fight your way through a bunch of deadly enemies in a bunch of deadly levels to survive, but the catch is that there’s deadly acid rising from the floor in every level, giving you a pretty unforgiving time limit to find the exits.

To make matters worse the levels get increasingly labyrinthine and convoluted. I mean shit gets really, really over-complicated. In one later level, where the enemies and level layout are already tough enough by themselves, it also turns out that you need to collect 9 letters scattered throughout the level. Naturally this sounds too easy, and it is, because you can only pick them up using a Collector equippable item, and you can only carry one equippable item at a time, including all the various keys you need to get through a level, and it’s the only one of its kind in the whole level, AND it has limited uses too. Oh good, you juggled the Collector through the whole level and got all the letters and made it to the exit? Well it’s still locked you fucking idiot, because you have to use an unexplained series of switches to operate a weird devices that rearranges letters to spell out a word to unlock the exit. Hope you figure it out before that acid gets here!

This game is just…it’s absolutely impossible without using save states unless you’re some kind of grand master video game savant, and I’m not bad, but I’m not that level. I always wanted to see the later levels and finish this damn game though. Big surprise, there is basically no ending anyway, and it took so long to beat this one that I ran out of time to play any others so that’s the end for now. Oh welllllllllllllll.

Now Playing: Contra series (1987-?) Part 1

Oh, original Contra, how I love thee. Ever since I played you at my cousin’s house, then begged to have you for Christmas, then my grandparents bought me GOLF instead, and I cried like a little bitch. Anyway…Contra is still one of the greatest games ever made, to this day. I’d put it in my top 5 greatest games of all time without hesitation. It was amazing then and it’s still amazing now. I must have played it hundreds of times by now and I still never get tired of this damn game. It is the ultimate arcade shooter with awesome combat, level design, boss design, and music. It’s also one of those rare games where the home version was actually better than the original arcade version it was based on. The arcade version had better graphics, but was inferior in every other way. The music was nowhere near as good, the controls (especially that weird jumping) were a bit awkward, the levels were much shorter, and some of the best bosses were completely missing. No contest. It’s really kind of a shame that there have been so many damn sequels, yet not one of them has ever been as perfect as the original. Still gonna play em all though!

Continue reading “Now Playing: Contra series (1987-?) Part 1”