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Retro Review: Haunted Mansion



Atari inc - 1982 - Atari 2600

Overview:

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.

 

Gameplay:

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. 

 

Conclusion:

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?

http://www.atari.com/play/game/haunted_house

Retro Review : Hudson’s Adventure Island (Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima)



Hudson - 1986 (JP) 1988 (NA) - Famicom/NES 

Overview:

In Adventure Island, you take control of Master Takahashi (Master Higgins in the US version), named after Hudson’s beloved PR man Takahashi Meijin. The story is pretty standard for a retro game; your girlfriend Tina has been kidnapped by the evil Great King Kyura.To get her back, you most conquer the games 8 areas consisting of 32 levels. This game is quite infamous among gamers for it’s incredible difficulty and was believed by many to be unbeatable. The game is full of quick enemies, pit falls, and areas that depend on precision movement on the part of the player. The game is also famous for giving you only 3 lives and no continues to do this.  


 

Gameplay:

Adventure Island  is a straightforward platformer in many ways. It has a similar feel to the original Super Mario bro’s in its overall play. It has 8 worlds with 4 levels each. The level structure is also similar, in that you can only travel forward, no back tracking allowed. Unlike in SuMari though, jumping on enemies will result in your death, so you must avoid or kill them to proceed. Your main weapon in the game is a stone axe that Master can throw in rapid succession at the enemies. However, you don’t start with a weapon in this game, and if you die you will lose whichever weapon you have at the time. You can find weapons either placed along the levels path or hidden in eggs. Other then the stone axe you can find a hidden fireball attack, that can not only defeat enemies but the tripping stones and boulders that get in your way as well. Like I mentioned before, items can be found in eggs throughout each level. Some eggs are hidden and can be uncovered  by throwing your weapon along your way. If your weapon stops in midair, go to that spot and jump. This will either uncover a hidden egg or, on rare occasions, a hidden lift that will take you to a bonus level full of fruits that will both regain your stamina and give you bonus points. Some of the eggs hold bonus items that add to your score, or extra lives, and some even contain the hidden character Honey. Honey is a fairy that will follow Master for a short time and grant him invincibility as long as her music plays, much like the Power Star in SuMari.
Also, hidden in some of the eggs, is a favorite item among fans of the game; the Skateboard
.

Once you touch this item, Master will throw on a helmet and begin to skate forward. You can speed up by pressing right, and slow down with left, and you can still use your jump and attack as well. Once you make contact with a rock or enemy, Master will be thrown from the board, but he won’t die. The upside is that the board adds speed and can act as a shield against one hit. But, the board will not stop going forward once you begin riding it, and sometimes will cause you to ride straight to your death. Use this item wisely.  

Not all eggs are helpful though. For lucking in some, is the eggplant.

Once you uncover the eggplant he will begin to follow you, and slowly drain your stamina bar the whole time he is out. Once uncovered, he can’t be ditched or avoided so you must focus on collecting all the fruit you can. 



I mentioned Stamina above, and in Adventure Island Stamina plays an important role.

**Don’t get the stamina bar confused with a health bar.**

In the game one hit from an enemy will kill you, no matter how high your stamina is at the time.The stamina bar plays 2 important roles, it allows you to take a hit from the tripping stone without killing you, only removing a few points, and it tells you how close you are to death. You see, once this bar is empty, Master runs out of energy and dies. It’s very important to collect all the fruit you can to keep the bar from hitting zero. If you find a milk bottle, it will fully replenish your bar, so anyways be on the look out. The Stamina bar can almost be thought of as the games time limit.  

As you may be able to tell simply from the description so far, Adventure Island is an incredibly challenging game full of dangers and many ways to die. The ever decreasing Stamina bar doesn’t allow you to take your time in the game, so you must always be on the move. The enemies are often placed in ways that force the player to make precise actions. Many of the enemies come at you in waves and patterns that can make the smallest slip up deadly. Most of the boss levels are full of enemies including spiders that act as moving walls. These segments require a mix of precision jumps and dodges and can quickly wear even the most pro retro gamers will down instantly. And of course, the limited 3 lives given make completion a near impossible feat.

But…there is hope…
 

At the end of level 1-1, right before the goal, there is a hidden egg. Inside the egg is the Hudson Bee logo. If you obtain the logo, you will be able to use continues as long as you remember to hold right and press start at the Game Over screen.

Without this trick, even the most veteran of gamers would be hard pressed to conquer all 32 stages. 
 
The one kind action the game has taken is in the boss fight.
 

You’d imagine that with a game this hard, the boss fights would be near Herculean tasks to complete. But, if you can defeat the first boss, then the next 7 should be fairly easy. Great King Kyura seems to need the levels to be as hard as they are to make up for the fact that he, himself, is a tremendous puss. To defeat him you simply stay in front of him, jump, and throw your weapon at his head. He does attack by throwing a fire ball very few seconds, but these are easily avoidable. The only thing that changes in between each fight is the number of times you have to hit him. That’s all. 

Although the boss is a pushover, simply getting to him will prove to be one of the most difficult retro gaming feats you will ever take on. This game does not play fair, and will take little pity on you.

 

Conclusion:

This game is not for the faint of heart. This is truly one of the hardest games I have ever played. (to this day I have only reached world 5-3, then again I myself only learned about the continue trick a year ago :P ) Although it is hard, it is still a very fun game. The characters and enemies are cute, and the game has a very child like spirit to it that can really hook the player. Despite it’s sometimes frustrating difficulty, I always find myself playing it again and again, and always have fun when I play.

So, if you want a real challenge, then I’d recommend  taking on Hudson’s Adventure Island. Be patient, stay focused, and remember the patterns, and just maybe, you can rescue Tina and be one of the few that sees the ending with their own eyes. 

 

(Not so retro) Retro Review: Retro Game Challenge



Indieszero -2007 (JP) 2009 (NA)- Nintendo DS


Overview:

For fans of all things 80’s when it comes to video games, there is no better game then Retro Game Challenge. Retro Game Challenge is based off the hit Japanese tv show Game Center CX staring comedian Shinya Arino. In the game, the Demon Arino ( an evil version of Arino that materialized in his DS due to his frustration at losing retro games) challenges the player to play several retro styled games and complete specific challenges. He does this by transporting you back to the 80’s, transforming you into a child again, to play retro games with a younger version of himself. Young Arino acts as comic relief and as support for your difficult challenges. Young Arino also purchases game magazines that you can read for tips and cheats to help you beat the games. While the games aren’t real retro games, they are all heavily inspired by them and feel like classic NES games. 


 
Gameplay:

The only way I see fit to describe the game play is to go through each individual game and describe each one and the game it is inspired by. So I will.

Cosmic Gate
 

Cosmic Gate is a shooter game influenced heavily by Galaga. In it, you pilot your star fighter by moving left and right and with it, battle a hoard of space insects, know as Insektors. Much like in Galaga, the enemy insects enter the screen in waves from either the top or sides of the screen. Also like in Galaga, they attack with either lasers or by attacking you in a kamekaze rush. Lets face it, this game is basically Galaga (nothing wrong with that though) Though the game does have many elements that set it apart from Galaga. Every once in a while you will encounter flashing enemies. Some of these enemies carry an item that will make your ship more powerful by making every 3rd shot you fire a missile that can cut though all the enemies in its path. The game also has a bonus mode where you must travel through an asteroid belt shooting as many as you can, and receiving bonus points based on the number you destroy. As the title indicates, the trick to beating this game fast is to utilize Cosmic Gates. You can open these gates by defeating flashing enemies that open gates when defeated and enter the gates by shooting them several times. Using these gates will advance you several levels ahead. Just like Galaga, the game is a polished shooter that draws you in fast, and has very addictive gameplay. 

-tip 1- some of the medium asteroids have 1-ups in them.
 -tip 2- if you fire off screen in the first level 50 times without hitting any enemies, something cool appears

Robot Ninja Haggle Man/ Robot Ninja Haggle Man 2

  
Haggle Man is an action platformer that borrows inspiration from several games including Mario Bros and Ghosts & Goblins. In it you play as Haggle Man, a robot ninja, and must save the kidnapped princess from the evil Chingensai. The game progresses to the next level after you defeat all the enemies on screen followed by the boss. Haggle Man can attack by jumping on enemies or using his shurikens. You can also collect power ups from defeated enemies, including scrolls. If you collect 3 scrolls, one of your 3 companions will enter the screen and use a special attack. Just like in Ghosts & Goblins you have an “armor system”, meaning you can take 2 hits before you die. One of the most interesting elements of this game is using the doors for strategy. The levels are full of doors that hide items, and enemies. These doors come in 3 colors and when you enter one door, all the doors of that color open as well. If there are any enemies in front of the doors when you open them, they are defeated. You can also hide from enemies in the doors. Every once and a while, opening a door will reveal the boss, allowing you to attempt to defeat him early. Haggle Man 2 plays exactly like the first, with a few changes. You can hold the scrolls and save them for later, the boss enemies take more hits to kill, and the game has more levels. The difficulty is also increase slightly. Both of the Haggle Man games are great action plateformers that have surprising depth when it comes to the strategy can use to advance in the game.

-tip 1- if you enter the doors in reverse order (exp C-B-A ) you will regain your health.
-tip 2- their are hidden items in some of the levels that you can find by throwing shurikens.  

Rally King/ Rally King SP


Rally King is an over head racing game where you compete in 4 races in the hopes of taking home the grand prize. There are 19 enemy drivers to compete with in the game. Bumping into one of them will cause you to take damage and can also cause you to spin out if you aren’t careful. 
 Each of the 4 tracks has hidden short cuts, different terrain (snow, dessert, etc) and hidden bonus items. The tracks may also have traps like water puddles, tar, ice patches and even sand storms that will cause your car to skid out if you hit them. Every once and a while you will also encounter bonus cars on the track that will either give you extra points or extra health. Rally King Sp is a special edition version of Rally King released by the Inokichi Cup Chicken Noodle company as a limited edition prize cartridge ( that Arino just happens to win). The only real difference between Rally King and SP is that some of the terrains have been switched (ice becomes dessert etc). That and in between every race you are treated to an advertisement by the Inokichi Cup Chicken Noodle company. As retro Racing games go, this one is a fun play with some clever ideas behind it. Although in my opinion, it doesn’t really have enough to give it much replay value, and is far out shined by the other games in the collection. 

-tip 1- you can preform a drift by letting go of the gas, turning and hitting the gas again. DO it long enough and you’ll get a speed boost.
-tip 2- you can get a speed boost by hitting the gas in between the 3 and 2 during the countdown.  

Star Prince
 

Star Prince is the second space shooter in RGC, although this one plays more like Hudson’s Star Force  then Galaga (both are shooters that revolutionized the genera with their respective releases).  In Star Prince you can pilot your star ship in all directions on the screen, and must do so to avoid the numerous enemies that are out to destroy you. You can of course use your blaster to attack the enemies, but can also grab powerups that can give you a spread shot or more powerful beams. You can also absorb enemy fire and create a force field by holding the fire button. Much like Star Force, the game allows you to rapid fire to attack enemies. If your finger speed isn’t up to task, Arino will let you use a controller with a Rapid Fire button; though if you use that you can’t use the charge shield and will have to switch buttons. No big deal, but something to keep in mind. Like I said before, the game has a wide variety of enemies, unlike Cosmic Gate. The enemies come at you fast and attack in a variety of fashions. One of the enemies, a large ship that attacks by adding pieces to itself, is identical to Rarios from Star Force, and can even be defeated for a huge bonus in the same way. Each stage has a massive mid boss as well that will attack viciously. At the end of each stage is a huge boss ship that must be defeated by attacking its cores with dodging its constant attacks. This is one of my favorite in the collection. It has great difficulty and tons of replay value. It really feels like a perfect successor to Star Force and other retro shooters of the time. 

-tip1- attack “rairos” at his core as fast as you can for a big bonus
-tip2- make sure you attack the terrain and find all the letters for a bonus, and keep your eyes out for hidden extra lives

Guadia Quest 


Guadia Quest is RGC’s answer to the great retro RPG’s like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, where the game gets much of its inspiration. In the game, you take control of a party of 3 warriors. A Knight, a Fighter and a Mage. You are sent on a quest from the king to save the kingdom from a dark force that has reemerged to threaten the land once more. The game is a straight forward RPG. You buy items, level up, learn skills, find weapons, and explore the surrounding villages and dungeons. The main thing that Guadia Quest brings to the table is the ability to have some enemies join your party to assist in battle.These creatures are called, what else, Guadias. When you encounter one, you can battle it or attempt to make a pact. If you choose pact, then defeating the Guadia will make it join your party. During battles Guadias will unleash a powerful attack every few turns. You can only have one Guadia at a time, so always be on the look out for stronger Guadias. The game has surprising depth, in both gameplay and story, and feels like a full RPG. This is a can’t miss for old school RPG fans. 

-tip1- Naga Pint and Naga Wing will be very handy to keep around. Make sure to keep a good supply of both.
-tip2- The Guadia Game Master Arino is in the game somewhere, but beware. He hold a terrifying power. 

Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3
 

Haggle Man 3 is the last game you receive in RGC.  Unlike the previous two Haggle Man games, 3 plays almost identical to Ninja Gaiden (though thankfully not nearly as difficult). In the game, you are no longer rescuing a princess, but stopping 3 sacred relics from being used to open 3 demonic wards. You must travel through 3 stages and defeat all new enemies, and some familiar faces, in an attempt to reclaim the 3 relics and stop the chaos. At the end of each stage, you must defeat a huge boss that has attacks based on the type of relic used to open its ward. You must attack the bosses 3 faces to defeat them, the whole time avoiding their powerful attacks. You are still joined by your 3 previous companions, and are now also joined by Haggleman Lady, a mysterious new ally. In the game you still have the ability to use Shurikens, but now attack with a sword instead of jumping. You can also find a number of sub weapons similar to those in the Ninja Gaiden games.The game also incorporates a system in which you collect special gears that, when equipped, give you enhanced powers such as high jump, or more rapid sword strikes. You can acquire some of these gears in special shops where you can also purchase sub weapons and extra lives. You must collect nuts that act as the games currency (reminiscent of the later Mega Man games) and use them to purchase the shop items. Although not as hard as Ninja Gaiden, the game is still a big step in difficulty when compared to the rest of the games and serves as one last big challenge. The game plays smooth and really brings you back to the fast paced action games of old. It can score some cheap kills on you sometimes, but it’s the kind of game that you really want to see to the end. 

-tip1- attack walls with shurikens; some of them hide items
-tip2- proceed with caution, the enemies are tougher then before 



Conclusion:

Game Center CX is my favorite show, so it only makes sense that Retro Game Challenge is my favorite game on the DS. The idea of playing games within games is brilliant. The retro  homages and the inside jokes throughout the game are great and full of nostalgia. The story is fun and keeps you engaged the whole time. And of course, the selection of games is great and gives you so much to choose form.I honestly couldn’t recommend any game more to anyone that’s a fan of retro video games. I only wish that the game hod sold better so that they would release the sequel here in America. But, there is always hope. If you are a true lover of retro games, I can’t say it enough, BUY THIS GAME! And make sure you check out Game Center CX, the show that started it all. 

I know this was an extremely long review, but thanks for sticking it out and getting to the end. I hope I have helped you make a decision on this game, and sincerely hope that you will give it a try.  


Hey! Do you like Retro Games??

Then make sure you check out an episode of my favorite show; Game Center CX!

 

In it, Japanese comedian and Master Gamer Shinya Arino, battles through retro games in a quest to show the viewers the coveted ending screens! 

He also visits local arcades, and shows off retro hardware and rare games.

Lucky for you, there are now multiple ways to catch the show.

Either by downloading fan translations at:  http://tvnihon.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1379&f=5

Or at Something Awful if you’re a member:http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3177407

Or now, watching episodes on Kotaku: http://kotaku.com/retro-game-master/


I honestly prefer the fan subs over kotaku, but hey, lets take what we can get.

KACHO ON!  

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