One of the many games that completely blew my mind on the Sega Genesis back in the day was Comix Zone, an Arcade-style beat ’em up unlike any other.
The unique thing about Comix Zone was its dedication to achieving a full-on comic book style yet still kicking butt as a game.
Retro Platforms: Arcade, FM-7, Nintendo Entertainment System, PC-88
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Entertainment System
Mario seems to be one of Nintendo’s most popular mascots, despite being a plumber who eats random mushrooms, murders innocent turtles, and presumably gets dirty by running through sewers. Some of his earliest appearances were in the first two Donkey Kong arcade games, where he goes from rescuing his captive girlfriend to cruelly imprisoning a giant ape, the latter which involves leaving a young child out in the world to fend for himself! In contrast to Mario, Stanley the gardener is a much more likable character: he grows beautiful flowers and cares for nature first, also not being afraid to defensively attack his enemies directly… with endless amounts of bug spray! Stanley may go after bugs, which are needed for his flowers to properly grow, but only when they try to fly away with his plants… because bugs are somehow capable of this. Donkey Kong 3 introduces a radically different style of gameplay to the classic arcade series, featuring the florist’s attempts to ward off a lazy ape and his army of evil insects, but is it memorable? And how are the presentation elements? Read More
I can still remember the first time I played Metroid. It was within the first year of its release, so I was, at most, seven years old. I might’ve played it for about 10 minutes before deciding it was a terrible game and playing something else. My aunt’s step-son owned it, so when I would visit over the years, I would repeat this process. Get the Morph Ball, not know know that I got the Morph Ball, not know what the hell the Morph Ball does, accidentally morph into a ball, leave that accursed corner of the game, reach a red door, rip game from NES, throw it across the room, put better game in NES. As an adult, my opinion of this game has only slightly improved.
Retro Platforms: Nintendo Entertainment System
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Entertainment System
Everyone knows that underwater blimps and sea urchins have some of the most hostile relationships known to humanity. Well, the sea urchins are definitely sinister villains, but I’m not exactly sure what kind of a creature the playable protagonist is supposed to be; what I do know though is that the main character’s name is Bubbles, which automatically makes her one of the coolest retro characters ever. Bubbles is a treasure hunter who wants to find golden loot in an underwater mystery maze, but it’s never really made clear whether the urchins are hunting her down out of evilness, or out of her secretly being a thief. Either way, Clu Clu Land actually avoids many undesired tropes of underwater levels by having an entirely unique manner of control, one that focuses on nonstop forward momentum and pole-based turning. It’s certainly creative, but is the gameplay actually fun?
To celebrate the release of new movie Jurassic World, I thought I’d talk about that Jurassic Park game on the NES.
Of course, 1MoreCastle already boasts a fab video review of that game (see Episode 9 of The Backlog with Joe Walker) so, being one sneaky fellow, I instead picked the Game Boy version to look at.
Incidentally, they’re both basically the exact same game.
Retro Platforms: Game Boy, TurboGrafx-16
Platform Reviewed: TurboGrafx-16
When a giant dinosaur somehow manages to steal half of the freaking moon, it’s up to an unhealthily meat-obsessed and generally impatient caveman to save the day! It’s never really explained how the science for any of this makes sense, nor do we ever find out why the caveman’s ultimate rival is named after the pleasant act of salivation. In actuality, the story to Bonk’s Revenge is probably the game’s weakest element; it’s really just a basic excuse for Bonk to go on another quest to terrorize every living creature that dares to stand in his way. But in terms of level structure and overall gameplay, is Bonk’s Revenge a superior game to its predecessor? Are the controls notably improved, are there more gameplay mechanics, and is the overall presentation enhanced?
Dash Galaxy may sound like a brand of washing up liquid but it’s so much more.
Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, they were mere preludes to the true all-American space hero that is Dash Galaxy.
If you’re wondering who the heck Dash Galaxy is then you’ve clearly never played or heard of Dash Galaxy In The Alien Asylum, Dash Galaxy’s greatest Dash Galaxy adventure.
And if you think I’m saying the name Dash Galaxy too much that’s because I am.
Are you a fan of action-adventure? Shmups? Get the best of both worlds in this great, yet somewhat overlooked, hybrid.
Did I mention it’s set in space and you get to play as an aerobot transformer, with a human form and an aircraft form? Check the video below to hear all about it.
The original Mega Man is the red-headed step-child of Mega Man games and I don’t understand why. Besides working as a graphic designer on Street Fighter, this is Keiji Inafune’s first game! Plus, in a series with 6 games (on the NES), it is far from the worst and you’d think the fact that it was the one to launch the series would temper criticism of its flaws. That is, if you can even find people willing to bother criticising it. Most people seem to forget about it completely. Honestly, I was surprised the game made the list based on this.
Retro Platforms: Amiga, Arcade, Game Boy, NES, TurboGrafx-16
Platform Reviewed: TurboGrafx-16
Although the fourth generation of video game consoles tends to be remembered as a battle between the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, a lesser-known combatant was the TurboGrafx-16. The result of a collaborative development between Hudson Soft and NEC Corporation, the system supported almost 500 simultaneous colors in-game, used card-like game cartridges, allowed five players at once, and had six entire wavetable synthesis audio channels; if that last point didn’t get you totally excited, then maybe seeing its various fast-paced shooters will. Several classics originated on the TurboGrafx-16 as well, such as the disturbing Crush Pinball series, most of the intense Star Soldier franchise, and the whimsical Bonk games. Bonk’s Adventure, the first entry in the system’s prehistoric mascot series, is how I first learned about the TurboGrafx-16, but does it do the system justice?
Here’s one I played recently.
With the exception of the sublime Hatris and other such loving rip-offs, Tetris is one of those games I never felt the need to try different versions of. It was the first game I played on the original Game Boy and it was perfect: the blocks, the music, the lack of colour, I loved it all. I would later play a couple of phone versions of the game but they would be very similar to the original.
Why does this game even exist?
Just look at that title screen, how ugly it is.
But that’s not even the point: Oddworld Adventures is, in fact, a good game… on the PS1, where it was known as Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. Why did Nintendo agree to adapt that particular game to their clearly not advanced enough Game Boy? Because it did well with its inventive gameplay style, cool graphics and involving storyline.
All of which are barely present on the Game Boy, incidentally.
The plot sees an alien (or “Mudokon,” to be precise) discover that the factory he works for as a slave is planning to release a new food product made out of his peers’ bodies. Which is pretty dark and disturbing. Add to that the weirdly comical way in which he first finds out about this, through looking at posters advertising the company’s old and new products.
As delicious as those Scrab Cakes look to Abe, he’s not too big on becoming “something new ‘n’ tasty” after he overhears a board meeting where all is revealed to him.
By the way, I only understand this plot through the Playstation version of the game because the Game Boy port could honestly be about anything. The plot is reduced to a vague cloud of vague vaguery and before you can take a second to figure it out, the game just starts.
Here’s a couple of questions: who am I and what’s a “Bigface”?
Is that blurry grey thing a Bigface?
Ok that kinda makes sense but I’m unclear as to what “Paramites” and “Scrabs” actually are, not to mention what the Bigface has to do with any of this.
To translate: Scrabs and Paramites are things used for food you’ll probably encounter along the way and the Bigface saves your life for some reason.
As to why this all rhymes somehow, I’m not quite sure.
I think the Bigface is actually a Yoda-style character who guides you throughout the game but it really feels like the Game Boy version is starting you off on like the 3rd level or something. There’s big plot chunks missing, which is a shame since the game’s story is interesting and is meant to hook you in right away.
I mean, Oddworld isn’t Batman, a franchise as old as time with a premise so famous little kids and 80 year-olds alike probably know it. This deserved a little more clarity/effort.
I also mean “clarity” literally, look at this screenshot:
I think I’m looking at Abe but, really, it could be anything.
Whatever it is, it’s freakin’ terrifying.
Anyway, the game itself is a platformer in which good old Abe walks and jumps around a factory, interacting with other characters with the ultimate goal of liberating all the slaves who work there before they are turned into yoghurt. And when I say “interacting” I mean interacting! The cool thing about this game is the “Gamespeak” which enables you to chant to other characters and get them to pull levers for you and such through some form of telepathy.
It’s not just some heroic rescue mission, the factory workers all work together to escape which makes releasing each of them quite rewarding. The Game Boy port only really includes one level from the main game, however, which is a bit rubbish and means you don’t get the full experience as it was intended.
Abe can also throw items including rocks, meat, even grenades but the problem with him is that everything kills him: jumping too high, holding a grenade for too long, being attacked or simply being touched by something unfriendly. Basically, just make sure you get good at this Gamespeak thing quick and write down those passwords.
One of the four Gamespeak functions you’re left with after the Game Boy transfer, by the way, is farting.
So, to recap, we’ve got no colour, no story, no levels but we’ve got farting.
On the plus side, the animation on the characters is not bad for the portable console. Not bad for a PS1-to-Game Boy adaptation, anyway. You jump a little like you do in Prince Of Persia and other such games where you grab onto the edge of a ledge and pull yourself up.
It may sound like I’m trashing this game but, make no mistake, I do genuinely like the original version and this lesser port, while infuriatingly restricted, is still very much playable. You can still tell there’s something pretty cool in there somewhere.
The Playstation offers a fuller game but this one can be enjoyed on a more basic level, as a simple platformer which just happens to have an eccentric, experimental feel to it. Abe’s not just a telepathic messiah, a bizarre-looking demi-god who literally farts wisdom from his rear, he’s also a video game character and, as such, he is doomed to avoid randomly falling objects while jumping on inconvenient platforms:
And because, in video games, no floor is without gaps, Abe is also often required to activate something in order to proceed with his journey.
There are annoying tasks to perform, tasks that if someone asked you nicely to take care of and even paid you to do you’d still laugh in their face.
Of course, no matter what you do, you never get recognition. All that happens is everything that exists wants to kill you and doesn’t stop trying to do just that, even oversized irises from a giant’s eyeball!
Or… whatever that’s actually meant to be.
Point being: this may not be the Oddworld game you want to play but, as a game, it still just about works. It’s really not the type of thing that works on the original Game Boy, a system that’s at its best when it keeps things simple (see Tetris), so I do recommend checking it out on the PS1 where you can also find decent spin-offs and sequels.
Oddworld is definitely a franchise to look into.
Even if the games are the type that send you passive aggressive mixed messages right at the end.
Did I actually do a great job or are you just saying that so I don’t throw my Game Boy into a cat right now?
‘Cause I’ll do it!
That’s what I thought.
Retro Platforms: Atari 2600
Platform Reviewed: Atari 2600
Perhaps one of the less remembered fables is the classic Three Little Pigs, a story that has the apparent moral of being prepared for the deadliest of situations. The plot is simple: three sibling pigs are sent out into the wild in order to amass riches, with their first steps naturally being to construct homes for shelter. One pig builds his house out of straw, another one creates his home out of sticks, and only the third pig is logical enough to make his shelter out of bricks. As a result of this, the first two pigs tragically have their homes blown down by a wolf before being eaten; the third pig doesn’t suffer this fate, and instead manages to trap and eat the wolf! Oink! tells the tale somewhat differently and attempts to make the story interactive, but is its gameplay entertaining? And how elaborate can the game’s presentation be on a simple system like the Atari 2600?