Night of the Emus!

Haven’t done one of these for a while! Busy times. This is actually two separate short sessions mashed into one. Don’t tell anybody!

One of the ultimate NES classics if you ask me. Wizards & Warriors is a very flawed, early NES game, but it was a valiant effort for its time that ended up being very memorable against all odds.

Movement and combat are both clunky as hell and the level design can be maddeningly convoluted, but there’s just something so compelling about it all. The art’s actually really uneven too, with some enemies and environments looking really cool for their time and others looking weirdly unfinished, like that one spider boss that looks like it was drawn in MS Paint and then someone forgot to animate it so it just moves weirdly around the screen on a dangling web string without ever actually moving.

For the most part it looks pretty good for its time though and has a weirdly compelling look and feel to it all, along with a super catchy soundtrack. There’s a lot of running around getting lost and backtracking to find all the elusive gems and keys you require to proceed too, but at least the game gives you unlimited continues and you lose little to no progress when you die.

And then there was the sequel, whose only noteworthy characteristic is that it had Fabio on the cover for some reason.

I guess they must have spent all the budget for this on Fabio being in all the promo art because this game is fucking awful. Everything about it somehow became worse. Ugly visual design, forgettable music, even worse combat and platforming, and even more convoluted level design. It’s just a mess. I never bothered trying to get very far in it as a kid and I gave up on it even quicker today.

There was a 3rd game and a Game Boy spinoff, but I don’t think I can manage to care enough to try them at this point.

 Capcom made the arcade version of Alien vs. Predator and it’s basically the same as every other Capcom beat-em-up ever made.

They all just follow the same old Final Fight formulayet they never seem to get old (to me anyway). Just a lot of simplistic button-mashing baddie beating with weapons and explosions everywhere and cool enemy and boss designs. You can’t really go wrong with a Capcom beat-em-up, especially when it’s packed full of Aliens and you get to play as a Predator. 

This was always one of my favorites to try to play as a kid, though I could never come anywhere close to beating it. I don’t think I ever even made it past stage 2. Little did I know that I never even had a chance.

Rolling Thunder is a run-and-gun that has a great soundtrack and some really impressive character animations for its time. It seems simple enough, just walk forward and blast away at the bumbling minions that appear before you. The game says there’s only 5 stages so it seems like it should be do-able, but secretly, this is a game that was designed to be absolutely unwinnable. The difficulty increases by a massive amount after the first few stages, especially since you have to redo pretty huge sections of the stages if you die, and you die really easily. That big looking life bar is completely misleading because you actually will die in only 1-2 hits, depending on if you take a melee hit or a bullet. Oh, you also have pretty strict time limits on every stage too. If you aren’t constantly on the move, you won’t make it out in time.

And if you should miraculously make it through all 5 stages? Fuck you, that wasn’t the real ending, time for the second quest! Yep, you not only go back to stage 1, but the difficulty is turned up to an unbelievably high level and the stages have even been altered to be even more difficult. It’s not even just that there are more enemies too, and there are A LOT more, but it becomes clear pretty quickly that these altered levels were specifically designed to be impossible. Look at this shit:

This is NOT a platforming game, so these jumps are much, much harder than they look and of course if those guys touch you you’re immediately dead too. Oh, and if you shoot them? They explode into 4 more slightly smaller copies of themselves. It just goes on and on like that to the point that even with save states and turning invincible mode on in the dip switches, it was still really hard to complete, but damn it, I finally did it after all these years. Maybe I should have just stuck with the console version, but the NES couldn’t come anywhere close to replicating these graphics at the time. Maybe I’ll give it a try someday just to see what it’s like though…

Naturally, my next stop was Rolling Thunder 2. I’ve never played either of the sequels. Until recently I thought they only ever game out on Genesis, because I’ve never seen Rolling Thunder 2 in any arcade, but apparently it did exist, and you know what? It makes the first game look like a game for babies…

The sequel does away with the animated look of the previous game and makes everything a great deal more detailed and animated, including the new look of the bad guys who are now some kind of cyborgs I guess. It looks nice for what it is, but I think I actually preferred the look and sound of the original.

Man, this is another completely impossible game too. Again, it starts out seeming all bright and silly, opening on some kind of beach resort with an oddly chirpy soundtrack that sounds like it belongs in a comedy game, but it isn’t long before the game shows you that it means business. You need to have incredibly quick reaction time to survive the hordes of deadly enemies, and you know what? Even then, it still won’t be enough.

I’m disappointed to say that I couldn’t finish the game, though oh did I try. I actually got all the way to the last boss, but I just couldn’t beat him. The final stage is another sadistically difficult level that was clearly designed to be unsurvivable. It’s just a series of absolutely unwinnable fights against huge groups of enemies running, shooting, and throwing grenades at you from both side with no cover in sight and an insulting shortage of ammo supply rooms. You also get no checkpoints at all, so when you die you have to start the entire very long stage over again. Even with hours of trying to save-state-scum my way through, by the time I reached the end, I had no extra ammo and not enough time to possibly chip away at his huge amount of health with my slow emergency back-up gun. The only way to win would be to somehow not use ammo on the way to him so you’d have enough fast bullets left to kill him with in the short time you have left, and it’s just not possible to do so.

Actually, I just looked up some videos online and I guess it is technically possible, but you have to be some kind of crazy video game savant to do so.

Yeah, I’m never going to be able to do that. Guess I should have tried the Genesis version! Maybe next time…

Thus ends another installment of Night of the Emus. It may be a while again before I have time for another one, but oh, it will return…