72. Metal Gear

Metal Gear
Nintendo Entertainment System
1988

This game was like nothing else when it first hit. A game that emphasized sneaking and discouraged shooting enemies? That’s brilliant awesome.  There should be a million games like it. 

So cool was this game,  American audiences were perfectly happy to play the incomplete and unfairly difficult port that made its way to our shores. I’ve played this crappy port before, and had fun doing so. However, this is the 21st century, and I have a more direct version of the original game, so screw the NES one. 

 

73. Metal Gear

Metal Gear
MSX
1987 by way of 2004

This game is just a blast to play. You play the role of “Solid” Snake, a novice badass. You start out unarmed and outgunned, so sneaking is the order of the day.  It is up to you to procure not just weapons but a variety of special items.

I guess the real question is, is Metal Gear still worth playing in a world with Metal Gear Solids? I absolutely feel that it is. The game may feel a bit crude compared to recent games, but the core mechanic of sneaking around discovering things is still a damn lot of fun.

After so much time, Metal Gear still stands out, not just for the sneaking, but for all the weird little touches. The transmitter planted in your inventory, the jealous boyfriend that answers your contact’s radio, the cravenly boss named Coward Duck. The game is just filled with nifty little flashes of personality. My absolute favorite part (SPOILER) is when your corrupt boss, Big Boss, decides that you’ve become a liability and starts trying to steer you into death traps. THAT’S SO COOL!

The game has some serious flaws, but the good bits far outweigh the obnoxious bits. That’s just how Metal Gear games work. I love the Metal Gear series, and I love this game.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

72. Metal Gear

Metal Gear
Nintendo Entertainment System
1988

This game was like nothing else when it first hit. A game that emphasized sneaking and discouraged shooting enemies? That’s brilliant awesome.  There should be a million games like it. 

So cool was this game,  American audiences were perfectly happy to play the incomplete and unfairly difficult port that made its way to our shores. I’ve played this crappy port before, and had fun doing so. However, this is the 21st century, and I have a more direct version of the original game, so screw the NES one. 

 

73. Metal Gear

Metal Gear
MSX
1987 by way of 2004

This game is just a blast to play. You play the role of “Solid” Snake, a novice badass. You start out unarmed and outgunned, so sneaking is the order of the day.  It is up to you to procure not just weapons but a variety of special items.

I guess the real question is, is Metal Gear still worth playing in a world with Metal Gear Solids? I absolutely feel that it is. The game may feel a bit crude compared to recent games, but the core mechanic of sneaking around discovering things is still a damn lot of fun.

After so much time, Metal Gear still stands out, not just for the sneaking, but for all the weird little touches. The transmitter planted in your inventory, the jealous boyfriend that answers your contact’s radio, the cravenly boss named Coward Duck. The game is just filled with nifty little flashes of personality. My absolute favorite part (SPOILER) is when your corrupt boss, Big Boss, decides that you’ve become a liability and starts trying to steer you into death traps. THAT’S SO COOL!

The game has some serious flaws, but the good bits far outweigh the obnoxious bits. That’s just how Metal Gear games work. I love the Metal Gear series, and I love this game.

71. Mega Man 3

Mega Man 3
Nintendo Entertainment System
1990

Oh, Mega Man Series, how I both love and hate you.

I love your attractive and cartoony characters. I love how you were non-linear back before non-linear was cool. I love how you let me steal the weapons from the cold dead hands of my enemies..  And I double-love that you are set in the year 200X. That’s the best year ever.

However. I hate that I spend more of the game fighting Robot Masters than I do playing through levels. I hate that you are basically the same game over a dozen times with scant innovation on the formula. I hate that you remind me so strongly of Metroid, because let’s face it, Metroid beats the pants off of you.

Your levels are so good, but so short. They leave me craving more, and yet when I get another game’s worth, it somehow just seems like more of the same. Your bosses are excellent… and yet they sometimes seem like little more than asking “which boss does this gun kill?”  You’re  a good game, I’m just starting to think that maybe you aren’t good for me.

Mega Man Series, we’ve had some good times, and some rough ones.  While I’ll cherish those good times, it very much  feels like we’ve been stuck in the same pattern, over and over. I’m afraid I just need more from a game than you’re providing.  More than you’re capable of providing.  

Wait.  What’s that you say? Mega Man 9? For Xbox Live Arcade?   Old school all the way?  Oh, fuck me, yes! Baby, I didn’t mean all those things I said.  I don’t ever want to stop playing you.

 

 

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

71. Mega Man 3

Mega Man 3
Nintendo Entertainment System
1990

Oh, Mega Man Series, how I both love and hate you.

I love your attractive and cartoony characters. I love how you were non-linear back before non-linear was cool. I love how you let me steal the weapons from the cold dead hands of my enemies..  And I double-love that you are set in the year 200X. That’s the best year ever.

However. I hate that I spend more of the game fighting Robot Masters than I do playing through levels. I hate that you are basically the same game over a dozen times with scant innovation on the formula. I hate that you remind me so strongly of Metroid, because let’s face it, Metroid beats the pants off of you.

Your levels are so good, but so short. They leave me craving more, and yet when I get another game’s worth, it somehow just seems like more of the same. Your bosses are excellent… and yet they sometimes seem like little more than asking “which boss does this gun kill?”  You’re  a good game, I’m just starting to think that maybe you aren’t good for me.

Mega Man Series, we’ve had some good times, and some rough ones.  While I’ll cherish those good times, it very much  feels like we’ve been stuck in the same pattern, over and over. I’m afraid I just need more from a game than you’re providing.  More than you’re capable of providing.  

Wait.  What’s that you say? Mega Man 9? For Xbox Live Arcade?   Old school all the way?  Oh, fuck me, yes! Baby, I didn’t mean all those things I said.  I don’t ever want to stop playing you.

 

 

How to Become Rich and Famous in 10 Easy Steps

Step 1: Learn how to sing, dance, and play the banjo.

Step 2: Befriends someone with access to his uncle’s Studebaker.

Step 3: Steal that Studebaker.

Step 4: Drive to Hollywood (not Mumbai).

Step 5: It is possible that a deranged restaurateur may send trained
assassins and/or Mel Brooks after you and your friends, in order to force
you to appear in his television advertisements. Keep insta-grow pills on
hand, and you should be fine.

Step 6: If you get lost, try Hare Krishna.

Step 7: Once you arrive in Hollywood, set your sights on a producer whose
receptionist has terrible allergies.

Step 8: Ask to see this producer. As you have no appointment or
representation, the receptionist is likely to deny you access. Simple shake
a great number of allergens into the air, and sweep past the sneezing
receptionist into the producer’s office.

Step 9: Give the producer your most impassioned pitch. He will be so
impressed, that he will offer you a standard Rich and Famous Contract on the
spot.

Step 10: A rainbow!

70. Knight Rider

Knight Rider
Nintendo Entertainment System
1989

Video Games based on licensed properties are oftentimes crap on a stick. The reason being, in part, that all the money spent on the license is money that is not spent on development. They call these half-assed games shovelware. So, when playing a 20 year old video game based on a goofy television show about a talking car, expectations run low.

So how do you defy expectations about a video game based on a cheesy property? Well, maybe you make The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay. That would work. However, this is not the route that the makers of Knight Rider for the NES chose, partly because they had the Knight Rider license, and partly because it was over a decade before Pitch Black hit theaters.

But you know what had already hit theaters? Top Gun! So, they took the Top Gun video game, and swapped the F-14 Tomcats for a talking car. No, really. That’s what they did. 

However that’s not the gravest sin that they committed. No, they went and did the single worst thing imaginable: they didn’t include a poorly digitized midi version of Knight Rider’s bitchin’ theme song.

Going into playing this game, my expectations were as follows:

1. Have the Knight Rider music.
2. Not be Top Gun.

Way to defy expectations, guys!

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

70. Knight Rider

Knight Rider
Nintendo Entertainment System
1989

Video Games based on licensed properties are oftentimes crap on a stick. The reason being, in part, that all the money spent on the license is money that is not spent on development. They call these half-assed games shovelware. So, when playing a 20 year old video game based on a goofy television show about a talking car, expectations run low.

So how do you defy expectations about a video game based on a cheesy property? Well, maybe you make The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay. That would work. However, this is not the route that the makers of Knight Rider for the NES chose, partly because they had the Knight Rider license, and partly because it was over a decade before Pitch Black hit theaters.

But you know what had already hit theaters? Top Gun! So, they took the Top Gun video game, and swapped the F-14 Tomcats for a talking car. No, really. That’s what they did. 

However that’s not the gravest sin that they committed. No, they went and did the single worst thing imaginable: they didn’t include a poorly digitized midi version of Knight Rider’s bitchin’ theme song.

Going into playing this game, my expectations were as follows:

1. Have the Knight Rider music.
2. Not be Top Gun.

Way to defy expectations, guys!

Nerds like making lists

By request, here is 26 comics every comic book reader should read. In no
particular order. Please tell me why my list is wrong.

The New Gods – Jack Kirby

Preacher – Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon

Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth – Chris Ware

Calvin and Hobbes – Bill Watterson

Box Office Poison – Alex Robinson

Fantastic Four – Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Transmetropolitan – Warren Ellis, Darrick Robinson

Justice League International – Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, various
artists

You Are Here – Kyle Baker

Watchmen – Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons

Cerebus the Aardvark – Dave Sim, Gerhard

Bone – Jeff Smith

Scott Pilgrim – Bryan Lee O’Malley

Whiteout – Greg Rucka, Steve Leiber

Batman: Year One – Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli

The Amazing Spider-Man – Stan Lee, John Romita

All-Star Superman – Grant Morrison, Frank Quietly

Peanuts – Charles Shultz

The Spirit – Will Eisner

Flight – Various

Casanova – Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon

Quantum & Woody – Christopher Priest, M. D. Bright

Maus – Art Spiegelman

Love and Rockets – Gilbert Hernandez, Jamie Hernandez

Promethea – Alan Moore, J. H. Williams

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Frank Miller, Klaus Janson

69. Kid Icarus

Kid Icarus
NIntendo Entertainment System
1987
Adventure Series

In 1986 Gunpei Yokoi’s R&D1 had a choice: Make a game that was Metroid or make a game that wasn’t Metroid. Making Metroid may seem like it was the obvious choice, since Metroid is the greatest game made for the NES. Why risk making a game that wasn’t the greatest game made for the NES? It would be a gamble. But Gunpei Yokoi was never one to play it safe. This was a man who would challenge all game assumptions, even such assumptions as the assumption that people liked their games in colors other than red. It was decided that they would make two games at the same time. One game would be Metroid and one would be some weird shooter starring a kid with wings.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s there was a trend for the cartoon studios to remake popular franchises into “kid” versions. Popular examples are Muppet Babies and the unaccountably well-done A Pup Named Scooby Doo. Nintendo got a jump on the format years before it was popular with Yokoi’s wingy boy thing, Kid Icarus.

In Greek myth, Icarus was the son of Daedalus, the dude who invented flying. Daed gave Icky some wings but made him promise not to fly too close to the sun. Icarus blew off his dad and ended up melting his wings, causing the dumb bastard to plummet to his death.  The moral of the myth is don’t be a moron. 

It is that grim fate that hangs over Kid Icarus. The inevitability of Icarus’ death informs everything you do in the game, for every step climbed in the act of completing this game is one step closer to Icarus’ inevitable fate.  Much of the game is spent climbing higher and higher, building tension as you grow closer and closer to the damnable sun.  Dramatic irony in a video game would not again be employed like this until 2004’s Metal Gear Solid 3.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

69. Kid Icarus

Kid Icarus
NIntendo Entertainment System
1987
Adventure Series

In 1986 Gunpei Yokoi’s R&D1 had a choice: Make a game that was Metroid or make a game that wasn’t Metroid. Making Metroid may seem like it was the obvious choice, since Metroid is the greatest game made for the NES. Why risk making a game that wasn’t the greatest game made for the NES? It would be a gamble. But Gunpei Yokoi was never one to play it safe. This was a man who would challenge all game assumptions, even such assumptions as the assumption that people liked their games in colors other than red. It was decided that they would make two games at the same time. One game would be Metroid and one would be some weird shooter starring a kid with wings.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s there was a trend for the cartoon studios to remake popular franchises into “kid” versions. Popular examples are Muppet Babies and the unaccountably well-done A Pup Named Scooby Doo. Nintendo got a jump on the format years before it was popular with Yokoi’s wingy boy thing, Kid Icarus.

In Greek myth, Icarus was the son of Daedalus, the dude who invented flying. Daed gave Icky some wings but made him promise not to fly too close to the sun. Icarus blew off his dad and ended up melting his wings, causing the dumb bastard to plummet to his death.  The moral of the myth is don’t be a moron. 

It is that grim fate that hangs over Kid Icarus. The inevitability of Icarus’ death informs everything you do in the game, for every step climbed in the act of completing this game is one step closer to Icarus’ inevitable fate.  Much of the game is spent climbing higher and higher, building tension as you grow closer and closer to the damnable sun.  Dramatic irony in a video game would not again be employed like this until 2004’s Metal Gear Solid 3.

68. Kick Master

Kick Master
Nintendo Entertainment System
1992

When approaching a generic ninja-based N.E.S. brawler entitled “Kick Master”, the expectations bar is set pretty low. Amazingly, this game doesn’t just meet those expectations, it punches them in the face. Or rather, I guess, kicks them in the face. My point is that it is an unexpectedly great game.

First all, the title refers to your goal, not your character. You start the game out as a kick neophyte but as the game progresses you will learn more and more kicks until you have fully mastered the art of killing things by striking them with your feet.

Over the course of your pursuit of kick mastery, you get to play a well-constructed platformer with some cool rpg elements. As your character progresses, not only will you learn new ways to kick, but you will also learn magic ninja powers.  The magic powers add both a layer of strategy and a layer of awesome.  

Actually, the magic powers are sufficiently nifty that they end up de-emphasize the kicking. I suppose Kick And Also Magic Master would have been too  cumbersome a title.  The magic  makes the game stand out as special,  but kick purists might be disappointed.


Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

68. Kick Master

Kick Master
Nintendo Entertainment System
1992

When approaching a generic ninja-based N.E.S. brawler entitled “Kick Master”, the expectations bar is set pretty low. Amazingly, this game doesn’t just meet those expectations, it punches them in the face. Or rather, I guess, kicks them in the face. My point is that it is an unexpectedly great game.

First all, the title refers to your goal, not your character. You start the game out as a kick neophyte but as the game progresses you will learn more and more kicks until you have fully mastered the art of killing things by striking them with your feet.

Over the course of your pursuit of kick mastery, you get to play a well-constructed platformer with some cool rpg elements. As your character progresses, not only will you learn new ways to kick, but you will also learn magic ninja powers.  The magic powers add both a layer of strategy and a layer of awesome.  

Actually, the magic powers are sufficiently nifty that they end up de-emphasize the kicking. I suppose Kick And Also Magic Master would have been too  cumbersome a title.  The magic  makes the game stand out as special,  but kick purists might be disappointed.


67. Joust

Joust
Nintendo Entertainment System
1987

In Joust, you play a Space Knight riding a Space Ostrich. You must out-joust an endless succession of other Space Ostrich-riding Space Knights, while avoiding magic hands made of lava, and you must do so quickly, for if you take too long, a pterodactyl will kill you.  Perfect.   That’s a concept worth porting from the arcade five years after the fact. 

Everything about this game seems good and sensible to me.  Playing Joust makes me wonder why there aren’t a thousand other games that understand awesomeness like this game does. However, there is an aspect of this game that does bewilder me, namely, the eggs. Whenever you lance a knight, he and his ostrich disappear, replaced by an egg that falls to the ground. You then have a short amount of time to crush the egg before it hatches. Here’s the thing though: It isn’t the ostriches that hatch from the eggs, it is the knights.

Apparently space babies don’t come from the same place as Earth babies.  It is all very confusing.  Great game, though.  

 

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

67. Joust

Joust
Nintendo Entertainment System
1987

In Joust, you play a Space Knight riding a Space Ostrich. You must out-joust an endless succession of other Space Ostrich-riding Space Knights, while avoiding magic hands made of lava, and you must do so quickly, for if you take too long, a pterodactyl will kill you.  Perfect.   That’s a concept worth porting from the arcade five years after the fact. 

Everything about this game seems good and sensible to me.  Playing Joust makes me wonder why there aren’t a thousand other games that understand awesomeness like this game does. However, there is an aspect of this game that does bewilder me, namely, the eggs. Whenever you lance a knight, he and his ostrich disappear, replaced by an egg that falls to the ground. You then have a short amount of time to crush the egg before it hatches. Here’s the thing though: It isn’t the ostriches that hatch from the eggs, it is the knights.

Apparently space babies don’t come from the same place as Earth babies.  It is all very confusing.  Great game, though.  

 

Fluff Film Friday Final: Crossworlds, or Yubnub is Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose

Hey gang, this column was meant to run last Friday, but a funny thing happened. Sci Fi Observer stopped updating. We’re on what people call “permanent hiatus.” It is always sad to see a good blog go before its time, but before we turn off the lights, let us share in one last Fluff Film Friday.

Did you all have a good ID4? We at the Fluff Compound sure did. While we didn’t get to watch any firework displays, we did make a point of watching the fluffest celebration of independence ever committed to film. Naturally, I am referring to the Ewok celebration of Yubnub.

“Now hold on there, Charlie Fluffkins,” I can hear some of you crying. “Surely Roland Emmerich’s cinematic masterpiece, Independence Day must be the fluffest of all July 4th films. I cannot accept that you are trying to argue that Star Wars is fluffer than ID4.”

Well, you’ve got a point. Independence Day is pretty damn fluff. It is a blockbuster film with a Scifi Channel Original Movie sense of style. I love that it has really stupid looking aliens hidden inside even stupider looking outer shells. I dig that it has the gumption to have the good guys operating from Area 51, and they are doing so in a non-ironic fashion. And everyone loves that the good guys win because the aliens apparently are Mac users.

An even better and fluffer draw than all the fun B-grade stuff is the film’s relentless jingoism and populism. Randy Quaid’s portrayal of an America-loving kamikaze drunkard is a pretty impressive display of flag-waving, emotionally manipulative cheese, but he’s got nothing on President Bill Pullman. President Bill Pullman is a war hero who’s floundering peacetime presidency is saved by the timely arrival of the threat of alien invasion. With his wife dead, and having been given some space ass to kick, President Bill Pullman is able to save the entire planet and give a rousing speech declaring that from now on, all those crappy, non-American countries will start celebrating the Fourth of July. Will Smith helps.

All this fluff stuff and so much more has been packed into a movie where the invaders blow up so many landmarks that they make General Zod of Krypton look like a harmless vandal. This movie is textbook case of fluff. Yet, fluff as Independence Day is, the last two minutes of Return of the Jedi are even fluffer.

Jedi, the final proper Star Wars film, was the beginning of George Lucas’s campaign to screw up the greatest skiffy film franchise of all time. He does a good job, right out of the gate. After a pretty solid first act, Jedi abruptly turns into a lame kiddie film about barbarian teddy bears. After the movie climaxes on three separate unsatisfying fronts, all of the principals meet up for some serious hugging, as the warrior bears sing Yubnub and perform cartwheels to the backdrop of fireworks.

For those youngsters not in the know, Yubnub is the colloquial name for the Ewok Song of Celebration. It comes from the Ewok word for “freedom”. No, I’m not ashamed of knowing that. Shame has no purchase in the heart of those who are truly fluff.

Most serious Star Wars fans hate the abrupt feel-goody letdown that is Return of the Jedi ‘s second and third acts. The Empire Strikes Back ended with Darth Vader giving Luke Skywalker the most thorough beatdown in all of film history. It was dark and it was exciting and it was cool. Jedi, by contrast, adds teddy bears, has Vader wuss out, and lets Luke win without earning his victory. Yubnub is the condensation of all that lameness into a teddy bear sing-a-long. And yet…

Here’s the thing: George Lucas removed the Celebration of Yubnub from more recent releases of Jedi. And that omission sucks so hard. We here at the Fluff Compound freaking hate the yubnubless cuts. We demand our yubnub in our Jedi. Lucas had no right to take it from us.

Yubnub is hate and love rolled into one package. It cheesy as you can get, but it is earnest, happy, fun cheesy. While we recoil from the forced lameness, deep down we want to see Luke and Han give each other triumphant hugs while Wedge and Lando’s weird laughing-guy sidekick give each other high fives. It makes for terrible fiction, but we want to see our beloved characters singing and dancing and happy. We embrace yubnub for all the qualities we hate it for. And that is why it is fluffer than Independence Day.

Hmm, I feel like I’m forgetting something…

Oh, yeah over the holiday, we also found the time to watch a movie called Crossworlds, a direct-to-home video release from Trimark Entertainment starring Josh Charles and Rutger Hauer.

Crossworlds is a weird little film. When you watch a low budget, straight-to-video skiffy release you have reasonable expectations of terribleness. While each movie is unique, usually you can expect the quality of such a flick to be somewhere between the badness of Trancers, and the badness of Trancers 5: Sudden Deth. Crossworlds throws a monkey into that formula by being sort of not that bad.

I mean, it isn’t really a very good movie, and it does have Rutger Hauer in it, but fore some unknown reason, it mostly refrains from the deliciously stupid excesses that define the direct-to-video genre. The director, Krishna Rao, tried to craft a simple and entertaining adventure story within the strictures of a limited budget. It’s a shame.

Well, crap. Crossworlds wasn’t fluff at all. That’s not the note I would have liked to end on. We never even got to the Fluff Hall of Fame. I had so much I wanted to do with this column.  Perhaps, like Jean Grey rising from the ashes, it may yet live again. Those who have joined the Fluff Scouts will be kept in the loop of any further FFF activity. The rest of y’all, we’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.

Crossworlds was directed by Krishna Rao, and stars Josh Charles, Rutger Hauer, and Andrea Roth. It also has a pre-fame Jack Black.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

66. Ice Climber

Ice Climber
Nintendo Entertainment System
1985
Action Series. 

 

I only bought Ice Climber  because the guys from this game show up in Smash Bros. Considering that Smash Bros. also features Kirby and Pikachu, this was perhaps not the surest indicator of a fun game.   

And indeed, the game is not quite fun. The premise is neat enough, you play as Eskimo (Inuit?) peeps climbing a mountain by hacking holes in the higher levels, than clambering upwards.  It is a simple concept, but one with potential, nonetheless.   Sadly, it doesn’t quite click.  The graphics aren’t quite interesting, the threats don’t quite create tension, and the controls feel slightly off. 

There’s the potential for a good game in here, but they didn’t quite pull it off.  Ah well.  At least I can use these guys to kick the crap out of Pikachu. 

 

 

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

66. Ice Climber

Ice Climber
Nintendo Entertainment System
1985
Action Series. 

 

I only bought Ice Climber  because the guys from this game show up in Smash Bros. Considering that Smash Bros. also features Kirby and Pikachu, this was perhaps not the surest indicator of a fun game.   

And indeed, the game is not quite fun. The premise is neat enough, you play as Eskimo (Inuit?) peeps climbing a mountain by hacking holes in the higher levels, than clambering upwards.  It is a simple concept, but one with potential, nonetheless.   Sadly, it doesn’t quite click.  The graphics aren’t quite interesting, the threats don’t quite create tension, and the controls feel slightly off. 

There’s the potential for a good game in here, but they didn’t quite pull it off.  Ah well.  At least I can use these guys to kick the crap out of Pikachu. 

 

 

Zoo!

Brandise and I took Riley to the zoo last week. We were joined by

  and her nephew, Gavin. We had a nice time, although it was a little too hot for Riley. We saw the new Jellyfish exhibit, I saw a bat pee, and I rode a tiny train with a terrified Gavin. Here are some pictures.

65. HydLide

HydLide
Nintendo Entertainment System
1989

HydLide may seem a nothing more than an unspeakably crappy Dragon Warrior/Zelda wannabe, but it is so much more.  Well,  not really.   However, this game planted a seed that will, years later, grow into the prettiest flower in all of video gaming.  To be continued…

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

65. HydLide

HydLide
Nintendo Entertainment System
1989

HydLide may seem a nothing more than an unspeakably crappy Dragon Warrior/Zelda wannabe, but it is so much more.  Well,  not really.   However, this game planted a seed that will, years later, grow into the prettiest flower in all of video gaming.  To be continued…

64. Ghosts ‘N Goblins

Ghosts ‘N Goblins
Nintendo Entertainment System
1986

This is a charming game with good graphics. It is also a tad difficult.

Wait, let me rephrase. THIS GAME IS FUCKING STUPID DIFFICULT. Stupidly, stupidly difficult. As in, you will jump forward, scrolling forward to reveal an enemy that will kill you before you can react. As in, you will be walking along when an enemy will randomly materialize on top of you and you will die. No matter how sharp your reflexes, no matter how well you memorize it, this game will just randomly kill you. Over and over again.

You know that I am strongly pre-disposed to like a game where the protagonist spends half the game in his underpants, but Ghosts ‘N Goblins blows.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

64. Ghosts ‘N Goblins

Ghosts ‘N Goblins
Nintendo Entertainment System
1986

This is a charming game with good graphics. It is also a tad difficult.

Wait, let me rephrase. THIS GAME IS FUCKING STUPID DIFFICULT. Stupidly, stupidly difficult. As in, you will jump forward, scrolling forward to reveal an enemy that will kill you before you can react. As in, you will be walking along when an enemy will randomly materialize on top of you and you will die. No matter how sharp your reflexes, no matter how well you memorize it, this game will just randomly kill you. Over and over again.

You know that I am strongly pre-disposed to like a game where the protagonist spends half the game in his underpants, but Ghosts ‘N Goblins blows.

63. Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy
Nintendo Entertainment System
1987

This is the first of the last of the fantasies. When I played this game in my youth, I backhandedly praised it as a game I could play while reading a book I meant that as a compliment. . In the years since I last played this game I made a staggering discovery: traditional eastern RPGs suck.

They really, really do. This game is the seminal work in an entire genre of games that I hate. “Gameplay” is divided into two alternating styles: The Doing Basic Math section and the Poorly-Written Fantasy Novel section. I spent countless hours over the course of a decade trying to play these games before I finally noticed that I spent all the story parts listless waiting to get back to the number grinding parts, and I spent the combat parts waiting to get back to the watered-down Dragonlance bits.

I’ve never actually enjoyed a Final Fantasy style video game. Despite my lack of enjoyment I’ve started (but not finished) Final Fantasy II (American style), Chrono Trigger, Mario RPG, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy IX, and SaGa Frontier, and others that I’m forgetting, I’m sure. Countless hours wasted. You can never get time back.

I just really wanted to like these games. They were epic in scope, tried to tell a dramatic story within a video game, and let you make choices to affect the outcome. All these things were excellent on paper. Furthermore, when I was a teenage nerd, these games were major subcultural touchstones. When I was 14, “you spoony bard!” really meant something, you know?

So when I started to play this game last night, all of that hatred and memories of time wasted flooded back to me. And you know what? Fuck this game. Fuck the entire genre and the chocobo it rode in on. . I’m throwing out my copies of all my rpgs before I have to play them for this stupid project of mine. I’ll play me some Video Checkers, but even I have my limits.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

63. Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy
Nintendo Entertainment System
1987

This is the first of the last of the fantasies. When I played this game in my youth, I backhandedly praised it as a game I could play while reading a book I meant that as a compliment. . In the years since I last played this game I made a staggering discovery: traditional eastern RPGs suck.

They really, really do. This game is the seminal work in an entire genre of games that I hate. “Gameplay” is divided into two alternating styles: The Doing Basic Math section and the Poorly-Written Fantasy Novel section. I spent countless hours over the course of a decade trying to play these games before I finally noticed that I spent all the story parts listless waiting to get back to the number grinding parts, and I spent the combat parts waiting to get back to the watered-down Dragonlance bits.

I’ve never actually enjoyed a Final Fantasy style video game. Despite my lack of enjoyment I’ve started (but not finished) Final Fantasy II (American style), Chrono Trigger, Mario RPG, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy IX, and SaGa Frontier, and others that I’m forgetting, I’m sure. Countless hours wasted. You can never get time back.

I just really wanted to like these games. They were epic in scope, tried to tell a dramatic story within a video game, and let you make choices to affect the outcome. All these things were excellent on paper. Furthermore, when I was a teenage nerd, these games were major subcultural touchstones. When I was 14, “you spoony bard!” really meant something, you know?

So when I started to play this game last night, all of that hatred and memories of time wasted flooded back to me. And you know what? Fuck this game. Fuck the entire genre and the chocobo it rode in on. . I’m throwing out my copies of all my rpgs before I have to play them for this stupid project of mine. I’ll play me some Video Checkers, but even I have my limits.

62. Excitebike

Excitebike
1984
Nintendo Entertainment System
Programmable Series

I just like saying “Excitebike.” It is a great name. It rolls off of the tongue, and has great cadence, and sounds like it would have to be fun as shit.
And as a matter of fact, Excitebike is indeed fun as shit.  A racing game all about hitting ramps, it is a simple and arcadey good time. 

I’ve always felt that hitting ramps for as much air as possible is the best part of any video game in which you move on wheels.  Since Excitebike is a game almost entirely about grabbing mad air, naturally I love it. Other games will make you search for hidden jumps, will ask you to perform tricks in mid-air, or will massively penalize you for failing to make a jump. Excitebike doesn’t do any of that horseshit.  All that noise just gets in the way of actually jumping.

All this jumping action rocks so hard that I forgive the  for its lying, deceitful ways.  You see, years before Doom II or LittleBigPlanet, Excitebike was pioneering the idea of user-created content. Excitebike had a “designer” mode, which allowed you to create your own custom track out of 20 different elements. 

That’s pretty cool.  However, you can’t post your tracks online.  You can’t save it to a memory card and take your card to a buddy’s house.  You can’t save the game to the cartridge.  It won’t even generate a password to recreate the track.  All that hard work to make a track, and you have to way to keep it.  I can forgive Nintendo, it was 1984 after all.

However, the game’s menu did have save option for your custom tracks.  If you were foolish enough to select that option, the game would look for an external hard drive that was never released in North America, and then freeze your system.  What a fucking tease. 

 

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

62. Excitebike

Excitebike
1984
Nintendo Entertainment System
Programmable Series

I just like saying “Excitebike.” It is a great name. It rolls off of the tongue, and has great cadence, and sounds like it would have to be fun as shit.
And as a matter of fact, Excitebike is indeed fun as shit.  A racing game all about hitting ramps, it is a simple and arcadey good time. 

I’ve always felt that hitting ramps for as much air as possible is the best part of any video game in which you move on wheels.  Since Excitebike is a game almost entirely about grabbing mad air, naturally I love it. Other games will make you search for hidden jumps, will ask you to perform tricks in mid-air, or will massively penalize you for failing to make a jump. Excitebike doesn’t do any of that horseshit.  All that noise just gets in the way of actually jumping.

All this jumping action rocks so hard that I forgive the  for its lying, deceitful ways.  You see, years before Doom II or LittleBigPlanet, Excitebike was pioneering the idea of user-created content. Excitebike had a “designer” mode, which allowed you to create your own custom track out of 20 different elements. 

That’s pretty cool.  However, you can’t post your tracks online.  You can’t save it to a memory card and take your card to a buddy’s house.  You can’t save the game to the cartridge.  It won’t even generate a password to recreate the track.  All that hard work to make a track, and you have to way to keep it.  I can forgive Nintendo, it was 1984 after all.

However, the game’s menu did have save option for your custom tracks.  If you were foolish enough to select that option, the game would look for an external hard drive that was never released in North America, and then freeze your system.  What a fucking tease. 

 

61. Duck Hunt

Duck Hunt
Nintendo Entertainment System
Light Gun Series
1984


Duck Hunt is a game about shooting ducks. This is a spectacularly uninteresting premise for a game, as proven by the following list:

Things More Interesting to Shoot Than Ducks
Nazis
Robots
Cyborg Ninjas
Space Ships
Terrorists
Cowboys
Helicopters
Any number of a thousand animals more aggressive than ducks
Tin Cans
Dogs That Are Mean To You


Compare that list to this one:

Things Less Interesting to Shoot Than Ducks
Clay Pigeons

Tragically, not only does Duck Hunt have a crap premise, but it also has a crap execution of that premise.   To relieve the boredom created by shooting nothing but ducks, the designers include a slightly duller mode where you are able to shoot clay pigeons. It also dares to  feature a dog that is mean to you, but that is impervious to bullets.  My hat of ballsiness goes off to the designers who decided to make a game where the only element that you might possibly wish to shoot is the one thing that you are denied the opportunity to shoot.

Still, despite the game’s all-encompassing tedium,  I will now and forever love Duck Hunt,  for this game has always been the primary interface for using The Zapper.   My favorite gun of all time, The Zapper was the light gun that came with most configurations of the NES.  In particular, I love the neutered, child-friendly version that come with an orange barrel.  It is just such a fluff thing that captivated my childhood imagination.  

The Zapper had attitude. You didn’t own a zapper. You owned THE Zapper. Named weapons are the stuff of legend.

The Zapper had style. It is an orange and gray ray gun that looked bad as hell. This wasn’t no pansy bullet-shooting gun. This was a gun for zapping, by god!

Most of all, The Zapper had mystique. You pointed it at your tv screen and shot ducks and other shit. How the hell did it know what you were pointing at?  Technology as advanced as this just didn’t seem possible.  What a fucking cool thing. 

 

 

 

 

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.