I just haven’t been in the game review groove as of late. I’ll try and update with a new game real soon. Maybe Karnov, or Werewolf the Last Warrior, or maybe even a good game :3
Hmmm, tough one….
As of now, I’d say. (in no particular order)
Ms. Pac-Man (Arcade)
Street Fighter 2 Turbo Hyper Fighting (SNES)
Silent Hill 2 (PS2)
Wonder Momo (Turbografx)
Retro Game Challenge (DS)
Mega Man 3 (NES)
We went to the Musee Mecanique in SF today. If you haven’t been, you should definitely make it out there sometime. Other then having a huge collection of antique games and attractions, they also have one of the best selections of Retro Arcade games I’ve ever seen. They even have 2 Ms. Pac-Man coctail tables. And, most the games are only 25 cents a play. I could spend all day there.
Kalisto/Namco - 1994 - SNES
Pac-In-Time is a puzzle platformer developed by Kalisto, and published by Namco for the Snes. Pac-In-Time acts as a sequel of sorts to Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures (Hello! Pac-Man in Japan). In the game, Pac-Man’s nemesis, the Ghost Witch, has sent you back in time, to when you were a younger Pac Boy. To return home, you must navigate the game’s 51 levels, and defeat the games boss, the Gum Monster.
While it follows the story line of the previous Pac-Man game (bringing back the Ghost Witch, and Gum Monster plot) the gameplay is very different from Pac-Man 2. Instead of controlling Pac via a slingshot, you now get to take full control of his movements. You also get to use 4 different abilities to help you navigate each level. Each of these 4 abilities can be acquired by leaping through one of the 4 colored rings that are scattered throughout each of the levels. The Yellow Rings give you a pellet gun, allowing you to fire Pac-dots at enemies; the Green Rings give you a rope, that can be used to swing on ceilings, the Red Rings give you a hammer attack, that can be used against enemies or to break walls and floors, and the Blue Rings allow Pac-Man to swim underwater, and also allow him to shoot a bubble jet from his mouth that can damage underwater enemies. Some levels begin with 1 or all of these abilities, but you often have to gather them to proceed. These 4 abilities are vital to help you collect the Pac-dots spread throughout the levels. The only way to open the exit door and move on to the next level is to gather all the Pac-dots in each level, indicated by the counter in the lower left of the screen.
When it comes to the actual gameplay, that’s where we run into some problems.
To put it lightly; the game is broken. It starts off with a boring 4 minute cut scene and then throws you right into the game. The game offers you little explanation of what to do (the occasional arrow points you where to go in the first level) or what each Ability does, (it took me almost 30 levels before I knew Pac-Man could pull items with the Rope Ability) and each level is full of glitchy design problems. If you walk against any wall in the game, you will stick to it, the swinging mechanic feels so odd and makes it extremely difficult to build any momentum, and the game is littered with poor level design and 1 hit kills, via: boulders, acid water and moving platforms (if even one pixel touches the top of you, its instant death) The game also has the normal Pac-Man ghosts, which are often hovering around waiting to attack you. The only way to damage these ghosts is to find a power pellet, and then jump into them. The problem is, once you grab a power pellet, they will often fly away, and out of your reach, returning once the power pellet effect wears off, to attack you again. It doesn’t help that each hit from them takes away 1/4th of your life. The game does have fruit and other foods scattered throughout the level that can restore your health, but are often clustered in one big pile, and put far away from the dangers of the game.
One other big annoyance is that you sometimes have to find secret passages to activate switches or gain abilities needed to proceed. The problem is, once you find one of these secret areas, you have to find your way out completely blind, because the game doesn’t let you see the hidden path once you enter it (most games will make these areas transparent once you walk into them, so you can SEE WHERE THE HELL YOU’RE GOING!). This often leads to 5 minutes of jumping around, hidden behind screen, trying to find you way through, or back out. All of these glitches and poor levels designs don’t only make the game longer then it needs to be, but just make it tedious and no fun to play.
As much as I wanted to like Pac In Time, I just couldn’t. Pac in Time is another one of those games that had interesting ideas, and the potential to be a good game, but just completely pissed it down their leg when it came to development. This was another one of those games that I ended up beating out of pure spite, rather than enjoyment. It’s always hard to take a game character and throw them into a new genera, and it can often end very badly. Pac-Man has had an especially hard time making these leaps; with Pac-Man 2 not being a very popular game either, and the Pac-Man World games often falling short. I will always be a big fan of the Pac-Man franchise, but I think when it comes to gaming, Pac should stick close to the maze. It’s a scary world out there for him, and I just don’t think he is tough enough to handle it.
Namco - 1988 (arcade) 1990 (turbografx) 2011 (ipad/iphone)
So as you may know, I’ve already done a review of Splatterhouse on the Turbografx-16 , but it was recently released on the Ipad and Iphone, and instead of being the console port, it’s a port of the original arcade version, so I figured I’d give it an update. It also has a few added gameplay options, and the usual ranking and achievements, that are so popular with the kids these days, that you can unlock while playing, as well as a Rush Mode.
(since I played it on the Ipad, I’ll mainly be referring to that version)
Like I said before, the version on the Ipad is a port of the arcade, so it has a few differences from the Turbografx version. First off, Rick is sporting the old hockey style mask, instead of the red terror mask design in the English version on the T-16 (he also wears the hockey mask in the Japanese PC-Engine version). Also, all the censorship from the T-16 port has been left out, so the Evil Cross has returned as a boss, the crucifixes are still seen in the Church, as well as the alter, and the tombstone that Hell Chaos emerges out of is a wooden cross once more.
The game itself is still rather similar to the T-16 port, with some enemies being added in different areas. The crows have returned, and the baby faced slug creatures actually attack you again. The arcade port also offers more detailed graphics, and added animations, like when Jennifer transforms into her beast state.
The Ipad version also has an added Rush Mode. In Rush Mode, you must survive 120 seconds against a hoard of zombies, dogs, bats, birds, and other Splatterhouse baddies. Every once in a while, the game will drop a rock, or 2x4 to assist you, and once you earn a certain amount of points, a picture of the Terror Mask appears. When you tap it, lightening shoots across the top and bottom screens, wiping out all enemies on screen at the time. You can play on either easy, medium or hard mode, with the types of enemies and weapons changing with each difficulty. The Arcade mode also has 3 difficulties, and you can buy added features like unlimited shotgun ammo and easy slide attack. And, if you think you’re good enough, you can challenge the game as Maskless Rick, a mode where you only have one heart point, which means one hit, and you’re dead.
Now, other then the usual stiff moving and fighting, the game can be tricky to play due to the touch controls. The buttons are sometimes unresponsive, and in a game that requires quick reflexes and pattern memory, having a button not function can make it hell to play (like I said, I played the Ipad version, so it may be easier to play on the iphone).
Now, as you may know, I absolutely love Splatterhouse, and have been a fan of the series forever, so I really enjoyed getting to play the arcade styled version. Like I said in my previous review, it’s a tricky game, takes getting used to, not for everyone, etc. etc. etc., but, if you’re a fan of the series like me, of just a fan of horror games and/or beat-um-ups, I definitely recommend it. If you can get over the touch controls, it’s a big bloody barrel of fun, and it’s available for only $2.99.
Hey, it’s cheaper than dumping a pocket full of quarters into the machine, and you can play it on the toilet. It’s a win win. So, go the the Namco app store, and pick it up today.
The Biggy Man awaits!
SETA - 1989 - Famicom/NES
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a standard action platformer, and extremely bizarre interpretation of Tom Sawyer, that strongly resembles Super Mario Bros. In the game, Tom has fallen asleep, and the game itself is Tom’s dream. In it, Becky has been captured by Injun Joe, and Tom must embark on a quest through the games 6 levels to rescue her. You can either play single or multiplayer, the multiplayer being turn based again like in SMB, where you take turns playing as Tom and Huck.
From the first level, it’s obvious that the makers of the game tried very hard to replicate Super Mario Bros and other popular games of the time. The main characters even resemble Mario and Luigi; Tom being dressed in a red shirt with blue suspenders, and Huck, dressed in a green shirt with white suspenders, and the game even begins with you having to jump over barrels, much like in Donkey Kong. For most the levels, you must either jump over or defeat oncoming enemies such as pirates and assorted wild life. You can attack by throwing an endless supply of rocks you have hidden in your pockets. The rocks travel in an arch, which means that once an enemy is close by, you will no longer be able to hit them, and must jump over them. Some enemies will drop a slingshot icon, which allows you to attack by firing a shot in a straight line across the screen. It is slightly more powerful then the normal attack, but only lasts a limited time. Enemies will also drop one of three other icons. A “T” icon, which will award you with an extra life if you gather 20, a Skull icon, which erases 10 of your “T” icons, and a Heart icon, that acts like the Star in Mario, granting limited invincibility.
Remember that time Tom Sawyer fought that giant octopus?
The game is broken up into 6 levels, 5 of which are standard platform setups, and one, the 2nd level, being an overhead game where you must pilot a raft down the Mississippi river. The other levels consist of a haunted mansion, a cloud world (with a brief flying section), and a forest that has a brief section where you jump along giant mushrooms (another obvious Super Mario reference)
The game suffers from some very stiff controls at times, with jumping being one of the main annoyances. Once you jump, you can’t move forward or back, which makes for some rather stiff platforming. This becomes a bit of a problem later in the game, when you are jumping over pits that leave you little room for error, the worst of which being just before your fight with the final boss. Also, in the raft section, you can move in the air when you jump, but your raft doesn’t move along with you, making it easy to accidentally fall into the water.
Remember that time Tom Sawyer fought Grape Ape?
My last real problem with the game, more of a personal complaint, is how easy most of the bosses are. Many of them are defeated with only a few shots, and some barely even attack you at all. In fact, the final boss fight with Injun Joe is almost impossible to lose at, with him only attacking once every few seconds, and only attacking by firing a single arrow at the ground.
While it desperately tries to be like one of the big boys, it just ends up feeling very dull. I actually enjoyed the cute graphics, and the music isn’t…..too awful…. But the game feels very speedily put together. It often feels either too easy, or annoyingly hard, and never really comes off as an enjoyable game to me. I ended up wanting to beat it out of spite more then anything else. When it comes down to it, it’s just an okay platformer, and with so many better ones on the NES, there just doesn’t feel like a reason to choose this one.
But, when it comes to other games for the NES based on Tom Sawyer….it could be much worse….
Technos Japan - 1988 - NES
Double Dragon NES is the arcade port of the popular arcade Beat Um Up with the same name. In the game, you take control of one of the Lee brothers, either Billy or Jimmy, (also know as Hammer and Spike in the US arcade version), and embark on a mission through the post apocalyptic waste land of New York in search of Billy’s kidnapped girlfriend, Marian. Your goal is to defeat all the members of the Black Warriors, who have kidnapped Marian as ransom in the hopes that you will give up the secrets of your martial arts style for her safe return.
Now, while some of the core gameplay remains similar, there are several glaring differences between the Arcade and NES versions of the game. The first, and most obvious difference, is the lack of Co-op play in the game. Due to the limitations of the Nes at the time, the game only allows one player at a time. Co-op is instead replaced with a turn based system, with each player taking over the level after the other dies. Also, instead of having all your attacks from the beginning, you must earn your new attacks by defeating a set amount of enemies. Speaking of enemies, the NES’s limitations strike again, only allowing 2 enemies on screen at a time. This makes the fighting feel very tedious at times, and can grind the pace of the game down to a crawl. To assist you in battle, you are able to pick up weapons at certain points in the game, but the weapons you pick up disappear between screens, making them feel almost useless.
The game also suffers from another old console problem; The difficulty to life ratio. In many arcade ports, the games difficultly remained mostly the same, as did the number of lives that the player received. But, unlike with the arcade versions of these games, once you get a game over, you can’t pump another quarter into the machine and continue playing. Once you get a Game Over, it’s back to start. Now, in a game with no co-op, no blocking, cheap hits, and extremely powerful enemies (THAT CAN BLOCK!) you will find yourself getting killed…a lot….and starting over…a lot….especially in the forest level, when having to face 2 Abobo’s at once…and then another pair soon after…
The NES version also has a 2 player fighting mode you can choose to play, if you don’t feel like running through a story mode. In it you can either fight the computer, or fight a friend in a 2-D fighting game. But, yet again, there’s a problem. While you have a cast of 6 characters to choose from, you can only be one character…both of you…you both have to be the same guy…
While fun at first, the gameplay limitations quickly get old, making the experience less then exciting.
As you can probably guess from my review, Double Dragon NES isn’t a favorite of mine. Trust me though, I don’t take joy in saying that. I adore the Double Dragon series, and the Beat Um Up genera as a whole, but that game is just too flawed to really enjoy. The game is still fun in its own frustrating way, and with some dedication, you can totally beat this game and I’m sure have fun playing it, but it doesn’t feel like a Double Dragon game. It feels stiff, technical, it lacks the balls out, torso punching, brainless fun of the Beat Um Up spirit. Between the lack of Co-Op, the limited lives, cheat deaths, and having to earn your own fighting moves, it just feels like homework…
But, like I said, you may enjoy the game, so download a rom, or pick it up on the Wii Virtual Console, but I’d recommend spending your cash on a good NES Beat Um Up like River City Ransom or Bad Dudes instead*
*I’m just kidding…don’t buy Bad Dudes…EVER!
Speaking of Double Dragon, have you guys played Abobo’s Big Adventure yet?
It’s a free fan game, where you get to play as Double Dragon’s most famous baddie, ABOBO!
The game is free, fun, and a nostalgia trip. If you’re a old school NES fan, you can’t pass up this game! So, hit the LINK, and enjoy.
Atari inc - 1982 - Atari 2600
Haunted Mansion is an overhead action adventure game for the Atari 2600, and is often refereed to as the very first Survival Horror game. In it, you must navigate a haunted house in search of the 3 pieces of an Urn belonging to the houses long dead owner, Zachary Graves. But don’t think he will let you take his urn without a fight. Mr. Graves will attack you with his army of Spiders, Bats, and even his own ghost.
The game begins with your character (a big pair of googly eyes), on the first floor of the Graves House. Each of the houses 3 floors have 6 rooms, and contain 10 doors. Each time you start the game, the game changes which doors are locked, and which lead to the next floor. The way to tell which is which is the noises made by approaching the doors, locked doors making a thump noise, and each open door leading to a different colored room and music cue. Now, the funny thing about long abandoned haunted houses; nobody pays the power bill. So, each of the houses 3 floors are pitch black. Lucky for you, you have matches that when lit, will illuminate the area around you. With the match lit, you will be able to find the games items; Key, Sceptre, and Urn pieces. Much like the doors, the items will be set in different rooms each play.
You can only carry one item at a time, and they each serve a different purpose. The Key will open locked doors, the Sceptre will keep you safe from monster attacks, and the Urn pieces (which you can collect without dropping) that must be reassembled to escape the house. You do have the ability to drop items where ever you want, which can be used to help you keep all your items close by. The enemies are pretty easy to avoid most the time, though there are times where entering a new floor will jam you face first into a Bat, or Spider. Lucky for you, you have 9 lives to make it through the mansion. The game also has multiple difficulties, which will make the walls invisible without the use of matches.
Haunted Mansion is definitely one of my favorite 2600 games. Now yes, it’s not really a horror game in the way of a scare (unless you suffer from a fear of cubes), but it does keep you on edge in the way of gameplay. You never know where the next enemy will appear, or where the items are hidden. When you enter a floor, and see a ghost and a bat rush at you, you will turn and run, and have to think where to go next. The Horror may be lacking, but the Survival and strategy remain strong. Haunted House is like a classic horror film. It’s probably not going to make you jump like a Resident Evil, or make you wanna hide in an old refrigerator box in a fetal pose like Silent Hill, but you’ll enjoy it all the same. It’s campy, it’s silly, by todays standards it’s the C-horror equivalent of Survival Horror. And that’s all part of the fun. It’s in those simple, yet challenging ascetics, that make this and many other Retro Games, fun even today. A pair of eyes, a dollar store ghost, and bunch of squares is all you need to have a good time.
Wanna give it a play?
this was amazing to read on thanksgiving
It felt appropriate.