Archive for the ‘NES’ Category

Dusty Diamond’s All-Star Softball

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Before I found Dusty Diamond’s All-Star Softball, I had never actually played a video softball game. In fact, the only thing I knew about softball at the time was that it was a whole lot like baseball only with a bigger ball and the guys pitched underhanded instead of overhanded. Even so, it was a sports game, which I don’t normally get into so much, so I don’t really know why I decided to give this one a try. Probably because I was drawn in by the art on the back of the box or something.

It turns out that this game takes a few liberties with the game of softball.

The games you play each take place in places other than baseball stadiums, places like a schoolyard and a cliff-side. That means that the different fields not only actually look different from each other, but they have other ‘house rules’ that makes it actually worth playing on the fields. Stuff like, if the ball rolls under the fence and off the cliff, then that’s a ground-rule double. They just kind of spiced things up.

The other thing that I thought was pretty awesome was that several of the players had different abilities. Most of the folks in the game were bog-standard hoo-mans, but there were some that could, for example, walk better over rough terrain (they hopped a lot), or some that could jump in the air and float there, stuff like that. But there were others that brought odd implements with them to bat with. Brooms and spiky clubs are what I remember seeing the most. And on top of all of that the players actually looked different from each other, rather than being the same guy with a different number on his shirt, as is what you get with most other games like this.

This is actually the only sports game that I can remember that I rented more than one time on purpose. Mostly because the game was pretty silly, silly enough that I could overlook the fact that I was playing a game that was, essentially baseball, but with less rigid rules. And I can completely get behind something like that.

Metal Gear

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Some time ago my local Hills store went out of business, and of the mounds of junk that I got from there, the thing that I most remember was a Tips and Tricks tape for various games on the NES, hosted by the US National Video Game Team. Other than me deciding that I really wanted to be a member of said team, I was presented (in full motion video!) several games in which I’d get pretty terrible hints at how to play. Most of which I’d never play or even see in Real Life(tm), but a few of them did cross my path, and I was pretty eager to put my skills that I learned via the VHS Arts to good use.

I rented Metal Gear one night because of what I saw in the video, and not because of the infamous hilariously mistranslated dialog. So, let’s get that out of the way first.

I feel asleep!

Yes, yes, very funny.

But there was an actual game to be had beneath the garbled communications. A game about sneaking around a military facility to do away with the titular Metal Gear. What is it? What’s it do? You just have to kind of figure out that part as you go along.

You just kind of have to skulk around and work your way into the Nebulous Military Facility, killing people as you go along, enough so that they don’t detect you and not so much that they get suspicious of all their buddies dying. It’s a delicate balance, and one that I was not quite able to achieve.

I didn’t really do much in this game because I did something that I never have done since. That game video I got on the cheap had in its Metal Gear section a password that started you at the end of the game, so the first thing I did when I got the game was put in the password, then I hopped in the elevator, and saw the ending. I just did the equivalent of reading the last page of a novel first (which a friend told me he always did so he wouldn’t wonder how the book was going to end).

And just like that the game was spoiled for me. I tried to go back and play through it, but just didn’t have the motivation. That was the day that I swore off using a walkthrough as a first-resort. I’d save that until I was absolutely stuck, that way I’d avoid ruining the experience for myself.

R.C. Pro-Am

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

I mentioned before that I don’t really like the realistic racing games, and that’s still mostly true. But I also tend to gravitate toward games that are on the fringes of realism, so I can occasionally be found playing a realistic racing game, so long as it’s only on the fringe of realism.

Like R.C. Pro-Am. It’s a game about racing radio-controlled vehicles around a series of tracks for as long as you can. Sounds kind of lame and generic, I know, but there are several twists, each twistier than the last!

Like in real R.C. racing you see the action from the sidelines. But unlike real R.C. racing (or, more accurately, my interpretation of real R.C. racing) there’s crap all over the track that you have to pick up, each one somehow enhances your car on the spot and gives you a little speed boost. Better tires to help you turn, better engine parts to make you go faster, and other better engine parts to make you accelerate faster.

And then there’s the weapons.

Just because you’re racing little toy cars around tracks doesn’t mean that you have to race fairly. You get to pick up missiles and bombs to try and temporarily incapacitate the other schmucks on the track. You can’t actually take them out for good or anything, but you do slow them down a bit, and you need to slow them down a bit. The main reason is because one of the cars is a dirty cheater. Every once in a while you’ll hear this high-pitched noise and one of the cars will get some kind of super-speed and rocket ahead of the entire pack. In my experience, this happened when you were battling to stay in third place, then the last place car would get its super-boost and rocket into first place, leaving you in last, which means, unless you have some continues left, you’re staring at a big, fat, Game Over.


There’s all kinds of other stuff to pick up, roll cages to make you temporarily nigh-invulnerable, letters to the word ‘NINTENDO’ that, if you get them all will give you a better vehicle, and that kind of thing. And you also have to contend with track hazards like oil slicks, tiny rain squalls, and that kind of thing, you have a lot to think about in a sub-minute race.

But with all that crap to think about, it’s actually a whole lot of fun… until the computer cheats. I actually used to be reasonably good at this game, routinely making it through thirty or more tracks without too much trouble, but never quite seeing the end of the game. So I decided one day to use my Game Genie to make sure that I would come in first place every time (the other cars will just race around in circles). And then I raced and raced and raced for an entire afternoon. Although I don’t remember the precise number of tracks I went through, it was close to a hundred. It was about then that I decided that this game didn’t actually have an ending. It just ended when you either got tired of the game and turned it off or you just couldn’t keep up with it any more. And it’s pretty amazing how quickly the former will happen if you don’t have any competition.

Days of Thunder

Monday, June 9th, 2008

As a rule, I don’t really like watching car racing, or anything that has to do with racing. But I did watch Days of Thunder the movie, mostly because I was at someone’s house spending the night and that’s the only thing they had to watch. But, that was several months after I had played the game. And I have to admit, the movie was way less boring.

In Days of Thunder the game you take control of your Mello Yello car and have to win a series of races. Why? I dunno, I didn’t actually care enough to find out.

Truth be told, I got bored with this game really fast. Mostly because the presentation is so bland. You just kind of get that static uniwidth representation of the track with some generic clouds and no music or anything. Just lots of meters and ambient sound effects to keep you company.

But I couldn’t get much past the qualifying laps. It was just so dull and monotonous. The most fun I had was grinding the walls and trying to make the tires turn red, and then burst. Then, when I go to the pits, I just kind of fire the pit crew, turn off this game, and then go play something fun.

The 3-D Battles of Worldrunner

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

I’m not actually sure what to make of 3-D Worldrunner. It’s a little game made by Squaresoft before they got into the whole super-complicated RPG thing, but it’s nothing like those games… other than it’s completely inexplicable.

What I do know is that you take control of some guy clad in green who is inexplicably driven forward and must overcome obstacles to reach the boss of the planet. Once there he somehow gains the ability to fly and shoot fireballs. Beat the boss and it’s off to the next planet.

The cool thing, though, is that this game is presented in this quasi-3D perspective, and you’re always running toward the horizon. The only things you can really do are crash into things, jump, and, if you grab the magic potion, shoot fireballs. But, primarily it’s the jumping around and trying to figure out how to use your fantastic leaping ability to cross ridiculously huge chasms.

The other fantastically awesome thing about this game is that it used red/blue separation to make the image appear in actual 3D. On the original NES! And although my copy was used and didn’t come with a box or a manual or a little plastic dust cover, it did come with a pair of glasses. But, I couldn’t actually ever get the colors on my ancient console television to match the colors of the tinted film in the glasses, so it just made the game look kind of fuzzy.

Okay, so that part wasn’t as exciting as it could have been.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

I liked the Roger Rabbit movie well enough, and was pretty well enamored with the concept of a game based on the movie, for some reason.

I don’t really remember much about what the story was in this game, but it’s pretty safe to assume that it’s a pretty loose interpretation of the movie. You take control of Eddie as he travels around the city gathering clues and trying to find out where the evil judge has gotten off to. You do this by talking to people and figuring out where the next item is that you need to proceed.

But that was boring.

I had lots more fun just running around and punching people. See, Eddie’s main weapon is his fist. And if you tap the punch button, Eddie does this kind of weird dance thing and charges up his punch. When you let go he unleashes all of his pent-up fury, and if someone’s in the way they get sent flying and their head starts to rattle. Then they get mad at you and refuse to give you their non-helpful clues, which isn’t really that big of a loss.

I tried to play through this game a few times, but never really got very far. Mostly because I’m not that good at figuring out obtuse clues. But that all changed the day I figured out The Password.

I probably got it in Nintendo Power or some such, and I still remember it LL, a bunch of Hs, 3B. I don’t remember how many Hs, but you stop with two spaces left to put in the 3B. Once you put that in, you start with everything you need to finish the game, and can pretty much go straight to Judge Doom and smack him around a bit. Once I got my hands on that, I applied it liberally to this game. Then, after I beat him up a few times, I decided that I was done with the game and took it back to the used video game store.

Blades of Steel

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

I can tell you over and over that I don’t really care much for sports games, but a cursory glance around here will tell you that I’ve played my fair share of them. And it’s not because I have some kind of secret affinity for them or anything, it’s mostly because folks I pal around with buy them and then I’m obligated to give them a try.

Blades of Steel is a hockey game. And puts you in charge of one of two teams and you hockey around trying to score more goals than the other team. Pretty bland stuff, really, and to be honest, I didn’t really pay that much attention to it. What I did pay attention to was the fighting.

When two guys bump into each other enough times they end up throwing off the gloves and having an old-fashioned fist fight. The loser of which goes to the penalty box. Which isn’t really that much like real hockey, but it makes the game way more interesting.

In fact, when I played this game, the guy that brought it over and I did nothing but get our little hockeydudes into fist fights. It turns out that that was the most fun part of the whole game. I guess if you’re some kind of hockey aficionado or something that there would be more stuff in here to get into. But since I’m not, I just found it to be a kind-of-okay fighting game hidden behind a very clunky interface.

Friday the 13th

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

I never really was much of a horror movie person, so I probably should have known better than to try and play a game based on a horror movie, but I was young, and had played everything else at the rental store.

Friday the 13th takes place in a summer camp and follows the counselors as they try to defend the campers from Jason as he rampages around the campgrounds for some reason. I’m sure it would have made more sense to me if I’d seen the movie all the way through.

You have at your disposal several camp counselors, each with slightly differing abilities. Some are faster than others, some can jump higher, that kind of thing. You have to use them all to complete the objectives in this game, and since I never could manage the first one, I don’t know what happens after that.

See, you have to take your counselors around the camp lighting fires in all of the fireplaces in all the cabins. Thing is, though, that Jason could jump out and attack you at any time (assuming he’s offed enough campers), so you always have to be on your toes. Because, even if he can’t be killed for good, your guys can. Once they’re killed, they’re gone for good, and invariably it’s going to be the ones that move the fastest and jump the highest that you’re going to lose first.

This is one of the few games that really freaked me out a little bit. I think the real reason I was on edge all the time was because Jason was pretty scary to my preteen mind, and he could be literally anywhere at any time to jump out and attack you. So when you were running low on health (which I was a lot), meeting him was definitely not something that you wanted to happen. Now that I’m a bit older and (hopefully) more composed, I should probably try and play that game again. I doubt there’s going to be anything in there now that’s more creepy than the stuff I saw in Resident Evil.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

If this site is nothing else, it should be a lesson to not go to the rental store on a Friday or Saturday night right before they close. All of the good stuff will be gone, guaranteed, and you’ll be forced to play some dreck like Terminator 2.

I saw Terminator 2 the movie and liked it well enough. The Terminators gave off their vibe of being almost indestructible pretty well, so, of course I wanted to be one, or at least control one while he cut a swath of destruction across the landscape. So I picked up Terminator 2 and gave it a shot. It had you taking control of the Arnold Terminator and had to go do the stuff from the movie.

I guess the developers watched a different movie than I did, because this game is nothing like any movie that I’ve ever seen on purpose.

Terminators in the movie are nigh indestructible. The Arnold Terminator in this game is very destructible. Punches hurt him a lot. A robot, with super-strong metal bones, can be destroyed by being slapped around the face by what amounts to meaty clubs. It’s a little disappointing.

I rented this game exactly one time, and in the time I had it I could only stand to play it for one afternoon. I could get through the first part where you run to the right and large groups of identical guys come out of the woodwork and you gently massage them to death. It takes twenty or thirty hits from your super-powered robot fists to down some random guy in jeans and a tee shirt, which is far less than it takes for them to kill you. Seriously, if the robots go down this easy, then that impending war is going to be a piece of cake to win.

After a while, you’ll get to a boss. You can tell that he’s a boss because he’s real big, moves real fast, and you can’t kill him. I said that I played this game all afternoon, and that’s true. I played this game about a dozen times that day and each time I’d get to the boss, and each time he’d somehow manage to stay in a magical area where my punches couldn’t reach him, but his Terminator Disintegrator Fist Technique could hit me soundly every time. Which means that I couldn’t beat him, and that means that I couldn’t get past stage 1. Stage 1!

After that embarrassment I went outside and hit hamburgers with a baseball bat… for distance.

Metal Storm

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Most of the games that I’ve played over the years seem to fall into one of three categories: they were extremely easy, they were extremely hard, or they were pretty easy until I got to the end where they ramped up in difficulty so sharply that they were nigh impossible. Unfortunately for me most of the ones that I would rent would fall into the third category. I’d stay up all night playing them, and make it to the end and then get stonewalled by the final boss fight.

Enter Metal Storm, a game that stars a robot that can (and must) change gravity to proceed. It’s kind of an interesting play mechanic, and really twists your brain a bit as you try and make sense of the levels, since they’re all essentially two-in-one.

So you run to the right, and occasionally up and down, to try and kill all the evil robots that stand between you and… um… you not destroying all the evil robots. If there’s a deeper story than that, then I don’t know what it is. It’s not like it matters anyway, your goal is pretty clear.

For the one night that I had this game I liked it a lot. Being able to change gravity up on the fly was pretty interesting, and I made some pretty good progress, but then I got to the end boss. I tried everything. Continuing lots of times, mostly. But I also resorted to my NES Advantage’s ’slow motion’ function and still couldn’t beat it. So, after several hours and a few hundred attempts I gave up.

I’d probably play through it again, but I guess I didn’t realize that it would be such a rare game to find. In the several years it’s been since I’ve played the thing, I have yet to see a copy of the game ‘in the wild’, so to speak. So I just haven’t had the chance.