Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Retro Video Game Addict reviews: Rygar for the NES!

 You want to talk about some bullshit? Okay, let's talk about some bullshit. Rygar for the NES is bullshit and it isn't just because the game features jerky graphics and poor gameplay, but mainly because the game gives you a life bar worth 3 hits and no continues. Yeah, you read that correctly. Rygar for the Nintendo Entertainment System gives the player a 3 hit life bar but yet throws enemies and obstacals at you faster than a cowboy on crack, it isn't even close to fair in that they seem to take joy in watching the player struggle through the levels as they try to progress through the game. The sick part of it all is that there is a lot of backtracking to do and when you go back to areas you've already visited all of the enemies and hurdles that you've tackled come back to haunt you. Yep, it's one of those games, pretty much all NES gamers know exactly what I'm talking about here.
     You know something? I like a good challenge. As long as the challenge is fair and the player has a way to complete it without taking unavoidable damage or without over the top tasks that require dumb luck to complete than sign me up. But if you're going to load the screen with a million enemies that re-spawn faster than steroid injected rabbits reproducing than you can just kill it and take it back to formula because I simply
will not tolerate it. It's sad too because Rygar could be a fantastic game if modified just right, I mean, the game has some fun aspects to it and offers some fun stages but it's over the top challenge and frustrating gameplay keep it from being a top challenger in the side scrolling action/adventure genre.
     The game does has some things going for it that don't totally suck, I suppose. Mainly the musical score, which is okay at best, and if you can get past the heroically annoying tune that strangely grows on you while you play than you'll dig the tunes within the game. The control is pretty tight too which is nice because, well, it's always nice to have a quality control scheme while trucking through level after level of horse crap. But almost instantly you'll soon notice that no matter how good the control on Rygar is that you can't avoid some of the bullshit traps and damage you'll take while progressing through the levels. But yeah, all I can really say good about this game is that the music doesn't totally suck and the control is surprisingly good. Now back to the bullshit.
     Rygar is one of those games that I used to see at the video rental stores back in the day when I actively rented games for my NES but yet I never took it upon myself to rent this one. I did play it at a friends house momentarily back in maybe 1991 or something but that wasn't enough time to fully decipher whether or not I liked the game, but maybe there was an omen there that barred me from ever asking for it for a birthday or renting it from the store. Heck, even when Funcoland sold NES games back in the day I'd see it for $3 or $4 and still always passed it up in favor of something else. I guess my “Spidey Sense” was tingling inside and warning me to steer clear of this game. Either way, my experience as of late with this game has been less than inviting and aside from having it as a part of my collection I doubt I'll ever truly bother with it again. In fact, I'd rather know what it feels like to get fucked by a rabid bear with a katana sword strap on than play this game again. Well, on second thought maybe it isn't quite bad enough to let a bear fuck me with a sword. But you get my point.
     So it's got tight control and some pretty interesting music, but the said could be said for the average NES game and I find this game to be much less than average when compared to other similar NES games. With all of the things this game got wrong I would place the 3 hit system coupled alongside the no continues bullshit as the one thing that really keep this game from being mediocre at best and place it in the “do not play” pile. It's sad too, because with a few modifications this game could have really been something special within the NES library, but instead it takes it's rightful place in the annals for video game shitfests. C'est La Vie.

Graphics/Visuals – 5.0
Sound/Music – 6.0
Control/Handling – 6.5
Fun/Enjoyment – 3.0

Twitter - @OfficialRVGA 
© 2013 Bill Mulligan

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Retro Video Game Addict reviews: Super Mario Bros. for the NES!

     The readers have demanded I write it, my friends have demanded I write it, and even I have demanded that I sit down to write this. Today I sit down and write a review for the game that put a dying industry on it's shoulders and carried it to new heights, today I write a review of Super Mario Bros. for the NES.
     As many who are fans of the industry know, in late 1983 and early 1984 the video game industry was suffering it's legendary “crash” and many stores that once proudly sold video games had either heavily discounted them or stopped carrying them as a whole. The entire landscape of home video games was in shambles and it looked as if this “fad” was about to finally come to an end after a rash of titles with poor quality began infesting shelves across the country. Something was desperately needed to put some spark into the video game industry, something was horribly needed to take this floundering entity and give it a boost, and Nintendo has just the medicine that was needed to put it back on track. That medicine came in the form of Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System and home gaming as we knew it was once again very much alive.
     The game was sold as a pack in title with a new home video game machine marketed by Nintendo in 1985, but Nintendo didn't want you to think you were buying video games and demanded that the console be sold and marketed as an “entertainment system”. They tried to hide the fact that the NES was a gaming console by originally adding the zapper gun and a toy robot known as “R.O.B”, but consumers quickly saw past the gimmick and R.O.B was quickly abandoned. Nintendo was just scared that marketing a video game machine after the big crash was a risky move and wanted to find a new way to sell an old product. Any which way, they didn't have anything to worry about thanks to the console selling well in test markets before it's national launch and the well received pack in game having a huge factor in it's success.
     Super Mario Bros. is a side scrolling action game that stars the world renowned Mario and his brother Luigi and follows their adventure through the Mushroom Kingdom while, depending upon which player you were, searched for Princess Toadstool who was captive in a secret castle. For it's time the game sported graphics that were head and shoulders better than any home video game before it and had a musical score that was more advanced than anything the Atari 2600, 5200, Colecovision, or Intellivision could achieve. Everybody knows the Mario theme, it's been etched in the minds of almost anyone who grew up in the 80's or spent significant time with the NES during it's heyday and has been used in everything from commercials, movies, and even the recording industry. It's a staple in American culture.
     I've actually played the arcade version of this game back in 1988 at a pizza shop that used to exist in a small town near the big city I grew up in. They only had two arcade games, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (not part II) and Super Mario Bros. and whenever we would order a pizza there and go visit my grandfather my mom would give me some change to play those games. Man, the memories I have of that will live on in me forever. I'm just glad I can say I've played the original Super Mario on an arcade cabinet, knowing that kind of gives me goosebumps.
     Anyhow, I'm sure you all have played this game at least once in your lives so I won't go into great detail about it, instead I'd like to discuss some of the memories I have of SMB and share some thoughts on the game as a whole. I remember bringing my NES home and watching my mom set it up as I held my
Mario/Duck Hunt cartridge in my hands, eager with excitement to begin playing and experiencing what many were raving about. I didn't get my NES until a few years after it's release because I had an Atari 2600 at the time and I was still having a blast with it in the late 80's and both my parents and I felt I didn't really need to take the next step. But let me tell you, when I finally did I was so happy because games on the NES were light years advanced when compared to the ol' 2600 and I was having a blast playing the system morning, noon, and night.
     I remember my neighbor (who was about my age) came upstairs and played the game with me the night I got it, I didn't know he already had a Nintendo and when I watched him pull off some of the tricks and things that were hidden within SMB I nearly flipped out. It was awesome and I made sure I remembered them all and did them myself after he had left to go back downstairs. I felt like the king of the world as I uncovered secret 1up's, went down pipes, collected hidden coins, and traveled through warp zones. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It's rare when you get these kinds of feelings while playing video games these days, I can only think of maybe 10 times in my entire life when I felt this way while playing video games but this moment was definitely up there as the top dog of “awe” worthy excitement.
     Super Mario 2 (my personal favorite), and Super Mario 3 would later come out on the NES and continue to grow the Mario brand beyond belief, but this is the game that started it all and because of my fond memories of SMB it will always have a small section of my heart all it's own. With that said, it's my 3rd favorite Mario game on the NES behind 2 and 3 as odd as that sounds. I just loved SMB 2 and 3 to death and both games are solidly within my top 10 list while the original is just outside it, but that doesn't mean I don't love the game. How can you not?
   Along with it's legendary score that I mentioned earlier, the game is an absolute dream to control thanks to it's simplistic style of gameplay and the wonderful NES controller being so perfect for side scrolling platform games such as this. Mario stops on a dime, jumps in cohesion with you pressing the buttons, and the game just feels amazingly responsive which adds to the game being so fun. Don't you hate games that have laggy controls or are just clunky to move around in? I know I do and SMB is NOT that game. It's just a fun experience all around, especially if you're playing it for the first time and are discovering all of the hidden easter eggs located within the game. But what are the chances of someone who's reading this never having played Super Mario Bros. before?
     It's true when I say this, for it's time this game was absolutely above and beyond anything video games had ever seen with long and drawn out stages to pretty graphics, this game just had it all. A musical score that everyone knows and loves, hidden underwater worlds, secrets and glitches, and other little nooks and crannies that people will never forget as long as they live. Super Mario Bros. is a timeless classic that will never be forgotten as long as a controller is in the hands of someone who knows where it all began.

Graphics/Visuals – 8.0
Sound/Music – 9.25
Control/Handling – 9.25
Fun/Enjoyment – 9.0


© 2013 Bill Mulligan

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Retro Video Game Addict reviews: Astyanax for the NES!

     Ever hear of a fun little side scrolling arcade port for the NES called Astyanax? Well if you haven't before than you certainly have now. This little gem is one of those games that I knew existed back in the heyday of the NES but yet I never really had a chance to sit down and play it until now, but let me tell ya', I was really missing out on some fun side scrolling hack n' slash for all these years.
     Astyanax is very similar to games like Casltevania in that it's a side scroller that focuses on killing enemies and making it to the end of the level while collecting power up's and other such things along the way. It features very nice graphics for the NES and I would say that graphically it's one of the nicer games to come out during the early 90's for the system, definitely better than many other games that were out at the time. It's fun too, if not a little frustrating at times thanks to obsticals that almost force you to take damage unless you pull off a fancy move or know the patterns of every enemy in the game. But this is heavily steriotypical of many Nintendo games of that era. But it doesn't hinder your experience with the game very much and difficulty can be a good thing if it's not in your face with bizarre obstacles and insane enemies.
     The bosses in this game are kind of neat, they're not overly hard but some of them can take an absurd
amount of hits before you kill them, but if you take the time to learn their patterns and strategy than they're not too difficult. The levels themselves aren't too long either and some feature mini-bosses that are fun and interesting, you'll actually have to face them all a second time because before you make it to the final boss you're put into a gauntlet where you have to challenge them all one after another. It's the most frustrating and difficult part of the game because there is little in the way of spell and/or health potions during this time, but they make sure to fill you up before you face the final 2 bosses of the game. Yeah, you read that correctly, there are actually 2 main bosses in the game that must be challenged one after another. I can see why this would happen because this is based off of the arcade game and games manufactured for the arcade are meant to drain you of your quarters and are usually insanely hard. So it's to be expected that the boss battles toward the end of the game are Taylor made to bleed you dry with little to no help.
    To some people, all these insane boss battles may deter them from trying the game out but I really didn't think it was overly excessive and if you're playing the game with the help of Game Genie than you should be all set. It just becomes a matter of time before you make it on through. But for those who are not using Game Genie than I suggest you learn the patterns of the boss fights as good as you can and save up you're spells because you're going to need them. Also, time you're jumps and make sure no enemies are near the ledges that may pop up and kill you, they're everywhere in this game and you know what that means. Classic Nintendo bounce back upon taking a hit which will cause you to lose a life from falling into a pit. Fuck.
   One big gripe with this game I do have is that the enemies are pretty repetitive throughout the course of making your way through the levels. You'll run into skeletons constructed of every color in the rainbow, the same plant-like creatures that crowd the edges of pits that will cause you to fall down, and other similar bugs and things that fly around that you'll notice you've already faced in previous levels. I guess it's just the way it is with this game, but the experience of making your way through the game is enjoyable so it didn't hinder my view on Astyanax much at all but it would have been nice to have more exciting enemies to fight along the way.
     Other than the repetitive enemies I really enjoyed my time with this game, I'm a big fan of arcade ports as well as side scrolling hack n' slash titles so Astyanax was right down my alley. It's just a shame that I missed out on it for all these years, though. I do remember in 1995 going into a Funcoland and seeing it on the price sheet and thinking it sounded interesting, but when I asked to see the cart the guy working behind the counter told me it wasn't that good of a game and that I'd be better of getting some other game for the Genesis that was similar but with better graphics. Goes to show you that you shouldn't always take the advice of the sales clerk because not only did I not get Astyanax on that day but I ended up going with his recommendation and the game he sold me was utter crap. Oh well, you live and you learn.
     All in all the graphics and the control in Astyanax are stellar with large and well detailed characters and amazing cut scenes for the time, as well as tight mechanics that make it a smooth experience to play. In my opinion this is a gem that everyone should have in their NES library because it's one that houses some very enjoyable elements, it's definitely on par and surpasses many side scrolling action/adventure games that appeared on the NES at the time. The game, much like many NES titles, also has some incredibily awesome music that help with the experience and make playing through the levels an absolute joy. There was just something about the NES and the music that it was able to produce that has become legendary in the eyes of many retro gamers, it's just something to behold.
     As of this writing the game can be found for as cheap as $3 or so from local video game stores and as cheap as $5 or so on eBay, so give it a whirl and see for yourself if you're up for the challenge. Astyanax is most certainly worth it.

Graphics/Visuals – 9.0
Sound/Music – 8.5
Control/Handling – 8.5
Fun/Enjoyment – 8.5

© 2013 Bill Mulligan