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!
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!
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.
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…
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!
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