Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Old Games I Hate (1/2)

Hydlide, screenshot from www.consoleclassix.com

I feel a little bad about taking so long in getting "Super Wonder Cross Part 3" up, when I know that at least one person (and probably exactly one person) is waiting for it. Rest assured, I am working on it even now! What's taking so long is, honestly, the process of sorting out what I need to say about the NES' capabilities from what I just want to say about them. Apparently two posts are brewing there. Also, I got distracted thinking about Atari 2600 Pac-Man; post forthcoming. Also, I have a job and a dissertation to write. Hold your horses!

So what I'm doing tonight is a little different. I thought I'd play a game. I've included screenshots from NES games from the first half of the alphabet that I genuinely despise for some reason. Some of them are quite wonderful games, but there are in each case major or minor reasons for my disgust that I just wasn't able to get over as a child. Some of these things I've gotten over in the meantime, and some of them I have not. Anyway, the game is this: can you guess what game any or all of these screenshots come from, working only from the scant clues I've provided? Please list your guesses by number in a comment at the bottom. The games all come from the first half of the alphabet, but they are presented in no particular order. I've borrowed all these screenshots from www.consoleclassix.com. Enjoy (?)

1. I hate this game more than any other. This was one of two games I played as a child that actually seemed to restart my game arbitrarily in the midst of play. Not in the sense you're thinking of! Not in the sense that the title screen came up and that was that, but rather in the sense that my characters zipped right back to the beginning of the game and every last bit of my progress was lost every time I got to a certain point. I was convinced it was an evil cartridge. In retrospect, I'm sure it was some weird timer function that I didn't understand. The reason for THAT is that this game was a rental, and I didn't have access to the instruction booklet.

2. Same issue as with #1. In this case, the game seemed to kill my character for no reason--no contact with enemies or any of the usual things. Again, I'm sure it was a timer thing, but where was the timer?! And where was that instruction booklet when I needed it?

3. I hate this game simply for having the audacity to be released for the NES when it could be experienced in vivid 256 color VGA (!) on a PC. With Soundblaster support. Two years before this version was released. Sorry, NES, this is one game you just weren't meant to play. But your renditions of Ninja Gaiden and Contra are wonderful! Superior to their arcade originals, in fact. So it's okay.

4. This game had a nearly intriguing mechanic built into it that was prominently advertised in its cover art, but in order to enjoy this, and I assure you there was not much enjoyment to be had, you had to suffer through the worst, least imaginative "platforming" experience ever. Worse yet: the already ludicrous gun your character was packing could (and would) run out of bullets, leaving you to swing the stock of the gun pathetically at enemies.

5. Too, too esoteric! What was this game, anyway? A destructive romp or a chess match? I still don't understand it. Another rental; another instruction-less game.

6. Terrible port or terriblest port? Or both? This was awful compared to its four-player (four-player!!!) arcade original.

7. Okay, as someone on Gamespite--hey, don't go over there and cheat!--pointed out, this is, in fact, the best version of this particular game, and that is saying something. The graphics aren't as good, sure, but what's really important here is that, as opposed to the PC original, this game was fully scored with great NES music. It was brilliant. But it's a painful game to have to play through with an NES control pad, as much as I love that little instrument, and it was censored more thoroughly than you might think for its conversion to the NES, as this vintage WIRED article shows. Don't go over to WIRED and cheat, either. Anyway, I hate censorship! Next!

8. I love this game. Love it! It has an interesting and I think basically unprecedented mechanic to it that allows the character to use all sorts of tools. However, I'm going to be horrible and say I hate it simply because the "Lamia"/Medusa at the end of level four was just too difficult for me the one time I rented it as a kid. Haven't been back to it since. My loss, I know.

9. Ugh. Does anything ever happen in this game? Except dying and endless vertical movement? I believe this game is where I got my recurrent nightmares of falling inexplicably from great heights, which have been with me for about twenty years now. Bonus reason for hating it: we were all secretly pronouncing the title incorrectly! Stupid Americans!

10. You know how in Fight Club there's that scene where Brad Pitt asks Edward Norton, "If you could fight anyone, who would you fight?" Then Edward Norton says probably his boss, and Brad Pitt says he'd fight his dad? Well, I'd fight the person who came up with the idea for the balls that drop from the ceiling in level two of this game. Some of them turn into snakes, and some turn into dragons, and others just explode and hit you regardless of where you're standing. I really do love this game, but I don't think I've cleared level two to this day.

And I believe that's it. So guess away, and have fun! I can't wait to see what people come up with; most of these are probably pretty easy, but at least two or three of these are awfully obscure. I think. I hope.

1 comment:

  1. The blog looks great. The screen shots of the old games is perfect for the blog.

    I love old video games. It may just be that they remind me of being a kid, but they just seem to have something that the newer games are missing. I had my brother load a bunch of old NES and N64 games onto my Xbox. So, when I find time to play, instead of playing newer games, I find myself playing N64 Super Mario Kart, Super Tecmo Bowl, Contra, and Goldeneye for N64, which is my favorite game of all time.