Night of the Emus

Another excellent Sonic the Hedgehog game from olden times. Great music and level design. It does have its downsides though. Tails is pretty useless, unless you were trying to play that awful split screen co-op mode. He actually hurts more than he helps in the special stages. Boy, I forgot how ridiculously hard those levels got in this one. The final 2 special stages are just ridiculous, requiring you to get basically every single ring without taking a single hit or missing even part of a group of rings. You’d just have to keep playing these levels over and over again, trying to memorize everything and hoping that you got really lucky. Then for all your trouble getting all the chaos emeralds, you’re treated to two back-to-back extra hard boss fights where you have zero rings. Again, I have no idea how I used to be able to beat games like this as a kid.

An early Capcom game, Gunsmoke is a vertical-scrolling shooter with a cowboy theme. As usual with Capcom games, it has extremely catchy music, fun gameplay, and a high, but not impossible level of challenge. It’s not one of their “must play” titles, but it’s still a pretty solid classic that holds up reasonably well if you like this kind of game.

Even as a kid, I could never beat this one. I’ve always wanted to go back and finish it, but upon trying it again, I can see why I gave up back in the day. This is an incredibly sadistic game. It feels like they tried to mash Metal Gear and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles together, and it uses a system that’s kind of similar to the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game, where you can switch between three characters at any time, but if any of them die, they’re gone forever. This is tough enough to manage as it is, but the game also loves to throw a lot of instant death moments your way on a regular basis. Attack the wrong person in a public area? Dead. Walking in public when suddenly a car comes shooting out of nowhere and mows you down? Dead. Trying to get through one of the nasty sewer dungeons and go the wrong way, prompting a wall to move, pushing you into the water with no way to escape? Dead. I couldn’t even tell what it was I was supposed to be doing. I don’t know, maybe I’ll try again someday with a guide or something, but I just didn’t have the patience for it this time.

Time enough for one more Turtles game. Again, why play the port when you can play original. Another classic Konami beat-em-up. All these Turtle games are making me want to read the old comics or watch the crappy old cartoon again. TURTLES ON THE BRAIN!

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.

Night of the Emus

This was one of those love/hate games back in the day. Everyone wanted it and everyone wanted to play it, but no one I knew could ever beat the damn thing. It was a brutally hard game in general, but the extremely limited number of health, lives, and continues made it near-impossible. Once one of your turtles dies, that’s it, they’re gone until you lose them all and use up one of your two whole continues. It was a pretty fun game though, with super catchy music and some interesting enemy design. Worth revisiting now that you can just use save states instead of losing and restarting the game over and over until you want to smash your head through the TV like the old days.

Why bother playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 on NES, which is just an inferior port of the arcade game, when you can just play the arcade game itself? This was one of the best beat-em-ups in arcades at the time and it’s still fun to play after all these years.

This one came out so late in the life of the NES that I, and probably everyone else too, never got around to trying this one. I can see why it didn’t get much attention. It’s really just a bad knockoff of the arcade port, yet with worse looking graphics somehow. Again, you only get a small handful of lives and continues, and this being a beat-em-up like the previous one, save states aren’t much help in avoiding damage. Maybe I’ll look up some cheat codes and try again someday, but there wasn’t really anything particularly exciting about it to make me want to bother returning. Eh, we’ll see.

Time for a break from those turtles. I recently heard this called a 16-bit Dark Souls and it looked pretty good so I figured I’d give it a shot. Yeah, it’s a tough one alright. Enemies aren’t particularly smart and don’t have much in the way of health, but they tend to literally appear out of thin air in groups and come rushing at you before you have time to react. The levels become pretty maze-like and are filled with secrets and traps. It was pretty ahead of its time in this way, for a platformer. There are some pretty rough edges though. Weird control issues with turning, ducking, and anything involving ladders. You can gather gems to use to buy items at shops, including better weapons, but most of the time I bought weapons I just ended up finding the same weapon for free not long after anyway so buying anything other than health and lives seemed like kind of a waste. It gives you a password each time you finish a “level”, each of which is actually made up of 3 pretty long “worlds” and a boss fight, but ain’t nobody got time for that. It ended up being a lot longer than I thought and I had to finish it up the next day, so I guess that’s it for this time!

Night of the Emus

Monster Party a game about a powerful alien/monster who comes to Earth looking for help saving his planet, and so naturally out of everyone he could pick he chooses some little kid with a baseball bat. It’s a side-scrolling action game where you mostly fight as dumb kid with bat, but also sometimes as powerful flying and shooting gargoyle. Honestly, the gameplay is pretty bland, but what made this game stand out was always the absolutely insane monster designs. You might find yourself fighting a green minotaur that shoots cows at you, or a giant fried shrimp, or an invisible mummy whose legs are asleep? I don’t know. They’re all incredibly bizarre looking and say really strange things, which is really all this game has going for it. The level design becomes offensively bad in the later levels with stuff like one of those “maze of doorways” type levels where everything looks the same and comets are constantly flying out of the sky to deal you nearly unavoidable damage or the penultimate level which is a long vertical series of rooms that has 3 bosses to find in it, but apparently has a rule that if you kill 2 of them you get the key to the exit, but if you kill 3 you lose the key and are now stuck and have to start the level over again, none of which the game bothers to tell you about. Annoying. It’s still worth a look though just to see the crazy, crazy sights.

This was based on a TV show, I think. Never saw the show and don’t care about roller-sports any more than I do about any other sport, but I had this game as a kid anyway, for some reason. It was a Konami game and it just looked cool I guess. It’s a weird mix of rolling platforming and a beat-em up. Like Skate or Die meets Double Dragon or something. There are some really nasty jumping sections in this game, made harder than they had to be by the weird movement and turning issues you have due to wearing roller skates, which is just the kind of thing you want to be wearing when you’re exploring junkyards, broken down post-apocalyptic highways, the amazon jungle, and fucking cliffs on a mountain. No idea how I was able to beat this without cheating as a kid. Lots of practice I guess. Anyway, it’s still a decent game for what it is. Konami sure knew how to make em back in the day. Most of the time.

All that skating around gave me the nostalgias for this one, but it doesn’t hold up too well at all. Really unpleasant controls and an almost non-existent single player experience don’t help it hold up well at all. I forgot that this game was only really good for playing with other people in competition. It’s pretty worthless as a solo experience unless you really want to just play the same 4 short mini-games over and over again to keep beating your own high score.

Speaking of games made up entirely of mini-games, there was also Rescue: The Embassy Mission, which is slightly more fun to play alone than Skate or Die, but still too basic and short to really be worth mentioning. You do little mini-missions where you sneak, snipe, rappel, and infiltrate, and…that’s it. You can choose different difficulty levels, but it’s just the same 4 things every time, which only take you maybe 20 minutes to do. Not worth bothering with, really.

Nostalgia strikes again. Used to have this one as a kid too, because what 80’s kid wasn’t excited by the idea of robot dinosaurs punching the shit out of each other in space? Going back to it again though, it’s actually a pretty shitty game. Combat is super basic and easy. The same few enemies and bosses are just color-swapped and re-used constantly. Every area uses the same 2 songs over and over again for each dino part and on foot part. It’s so shoddy that I got bored and gave up halfway through.

I’m not going to try to replay all these old Sonic games at once, that’d take too long, so I’ll just squeeze them in one at a time. It’s amazing how clunky this felt after just playing Sonic Mania. It’s not as bad as going back and trying to play the original Super Mario Bros. again, but the lack of accuracy in the controls is very noticeable. I kept wishing I had the spin dash too, but I forgot that it didn’t exist yet in this one. While it’s a little rough around the edges, it’s still a decently fun game with some great iconic level design and music.

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

In the mood for some TurboGrafx 16 today, though I may come to regret it…

I’m just going to come right out and say it. This game is shit. It always looked so cool back in the day with it’s fancy 16-bit robot fighting, but in reality the robot fighting is actually a very small part of the game, and the game is just a shoddy production all around. There are 7 “worlds”, each with an overworld level and an underworld level, or playing a slow human in a town setting level and being a cool looking robot guy in a robot fighting level. Thing is, not only do these levels just copy and paste the same exact locations and enemies over and over again, just in slightly different order and with different colors (hell there’s only 2 damn songs that play on a loop for overworld/underworld for the entire game too), but you’re also going to be spending more time grinding for gold in the overworld than you will anything else. The only way to get weapon upgrades is to buy them at ridiculously high prices, and gold only drops from overworld enemies, and only at a rate of something like 1 in 10 kills. There’s no other way to get gold and you absolutely will not make it through the game without the upgrades, so get used to a shitload of boring grinding and fighting the same enemies over and over and over again. This game does not hold up one bit.

Looking back on it, Astyanax totally ripped this game off. This game gets a hell of a lot harder than Astyanax though. It’s a basic, but fun little hack and slash platformer, though it requires a lot of patience in the later levels. You’ll have to do a lot of standing around, waiting for your attack meter to fill back up to maximum, because you’re just going to get your ass beat otherwise. You get to fight angry bears with an axe though, so it’s got that going for it.

The sequel seems like an entirely different game, ditching almost everything about the original other than the fact that it’s also a side scrolling hack/slash platformer. The attack power bar is gone, the pace is much faster, and instead of some dirty caveman, you’re some Egyptian looking guy with a sword for some reason. It seems like there’s some kind of story here, but the game never bothers to tell it to you. Whatever. It’s a fun little game and it was actually a bit better than the first one.

Holy shit is this game bad. I knew I was in for a bad time right from the beginning when they got the theme song completely wrong, and it was just downhill from there. Horrible platforming that has you awkwardly jumping and slamming your ass into enemies to beat them, instead of you know, using the gun you’re carrying around. Awful, unfinished sounding music. It’s just a mess. If you ever get the urge to play a Darkwing Duck game just stick with Capcom‘s NES version, it’s much better than this.

This game always looked so cool back in the day, but I never got a chance to play it. Eh. It’s not that great. Nice graphics for the time, but it just feels like a weird mash-up/knock-off of Ninja Gaiden 2 and Legend of Kage. The bosses are kind of cool, but in between you’re just running in long straight lines every level, mashing the attack button over and over again, occasionally tossing a jump in there. It’s just very stale and repetitive. Not feeling it at all. Ehhhh I give up. No more games tonight!

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?!).

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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!