Before there was the fancy 8 MEGA MEMORY Strider for Genesis that most people think of when you say Strider, there was the original NES version that has always held a special place in my brain. To this day, I still remember the password for the last level (it’s DMCC BGCP CPOD, if you were wondering). I don’t know what it was about this game that gave me such a semi-obsession as a kid. Looking back, it’s a glitchy and clumsy game, that is far from the tightest thing Capcom has ever produced, even by 8-bit standards. The level design and amount of convoluted backtracking involved is questionable, to say the least, and the jumping is just a mess, but dammit…I like Strider. The weird levels, interesting enemies, bizarrely barely coherent plot, and awesome Capcom 8-bit music just won’t let me let go of my Strider fixation. It’s still a game that I have to pick up and play again every few years and I doubt I’ll ever stop.

Oh, Ghosts ‘N Goblins. The game that everyone in 1985 thought was so cool, but no one could even come close to beating. It’s weird that you never seem to see this one mentioned on any of the goofy “top 10 hardest old games” lists you always see. This was much worse than Battletoads. Seriously, if you ever meet someone that says they can beat this game without cheating, call the fucking FBI or something, because that person is some kind of evil mutant or wizard and they’re probably about to suck the life force out of you.

Not content with simply being perhaps the most difficult game ever released on the NES, Ghosts ‘N Goblins also trolls the shit out of you like you wouldn’t believe. If you somehow manage to make it all the way to the last boss and beat him, the game tells you:

and you not only are sent back to the beginning, but now the game is even fucking harder. That’s not everything either. If you manage to do it all again and finish the level right before the final boss again, if you don’t have the cross weapon equipped the game happily tells you that your weapon is useless in this battle and doesn’t just send you back to the beginning of the level where you can find a cross, but shoots you back two whole levels, because fuck you, that’s why! If you somehow manage to make it through ALL OF THIS BULLSHIT, which let me tell you, it’s not easy even using save state spamming, you finally win and

Hooray! I’ve always wanted to beat that game. Now let’s never, EVER speak of this again.

Now Playing: Contra series (1987-?) Part 2

Contra madness continues with the next generation of Contra on Playstation 2.

Contra finally becomes Contra again with Shattered Soldier. SS is very much a Contra title again, unlike the weird PS1 entries, full of crazy sidescrolling action and a shitload of bizarre and challenging bosses. This game actually looked really good for a PS2 game and the level and boss designs were impressively twisted, often seeming almost like a horror game, at least in appearance.

Continue reading “Now Playing: Contra series (1987-?) Part 2”

Now Playing: Thumper (2016)

Thumper is described by its creators as a “rhythm violence game.” I don’t know if that’s exactly accurate, but it certainly sounds nice and it was a pretty fun game.

There isn’t really any combat in the game, so the “violence” label is kind of questionable. There are boss fights where you have to hit every beat to make some kind of attack beat pop out that you can knock back into the bosses face, which is the only way to damage them, which is about as violent as it gets.

I suppose the violence could be more referring to the amount of times you’ll die. The game starts out pretty simple and manageable, much like the levels you get to try in the demo, but a little less than half way through things start to get way more complicated and fast paced. Luckily the levels are all pretty short, so it’s not TOO frustrating to have to redo one several times.

I guess that was the only real complaint I had, that things started moving so fast that there was no time at all to look at all the crazy, psychedelic scenery. There’s so much weird shit going on in the background, but you just can’t take your eye off the track for even a second or you’ll be dead.

It’s definitely a worthwhile VR title though. It’s not super long, but it’s a bit longer than most of the tiny movie length VR games flooding the market these days. Maybe 6-8 hours or so, not including the extra play modes and trying to get S ranks in all the levels if you’re really masochistic.

Now Playing: Mass Effect – Andromeda (2017)

Mass Effect – Andromeda is terrible! It’s a large-scale RPG with a lot of hype behind it that had a few minor bugs upon release, including some people in the talking scenes having weird facial animations and THAT’S WHY I PLAY VIDEO GAMES FOR THE QUALITY OF THE FACIAL ANIMATIONS! Just kidding I’m not a fucking 12 year old. Game was awesome. SORRY.

Continue reading “Now Playing: Mass Effect – Andromeda (2017)”

Now Playing: Resident Evil – Outbreak (2003)

After getting a new (or at least one that’s in working order) Playstation 2, I’ve been dusting off the old pile of PS2 games and thought I’d give some of the older, more obscure Resident Evil games a try again. No one really talks about Outbreak much (though the 2nd one seems semi-popular). I had a hard time even finding a decent screenshot of it (and it’s still not very good).

Outbreak was the first attempt at an online multiplayer-based Resident Evil, long before awful games like Operation Raccoon City and Umbrella Corps came around. Like those games, it does have a single player mode, but wasn’t really made with single player in mind, so the experience is pretty flawed and uneven. I can see this being a lot more fun with real people and the difficulty turned up, but even then, it’s a bit of a mess. The extremely limited inventory size forces you to co-operate, even in single player. You have to use AI companions as a kind of living storage box, and really, that’s all they’re even good for. They sure as hell won’t fight or help you in any way. Left to their own devices they’ll blindly stumble around, literally filling their inventory up with sticks and other useless items or even stand right next to you and watch you die as you’re screaming at them for help sometimes.

On the surface it’s a pretty standard old-timey Resident Evil kind of game, with a lot of familiar monsters, inventory management, and a ton of weird puzzles and backtracking, but the more you dig into it, the more it feels like a cheap copy. There’s a random splattering of story cutscenes, but they’re near-incoherent and the 5 scenarios you can select to play don’t seem to have any real connection to each other. The enemies and bosses feel kind of like bargain bin versions of ones you’ve already seen before, with textures and animations that don’t seem quite finished.

It’s not ALL bad. There’s the level where this weird unkillable leech man keeps popping out of vents and doors and chasing you around and you can only throw blood packs to distract him until you find a way to kill him near the end of the level, and there’s the part where the “Tyrant”, or this game’s version of one, called Thanatos (who is now a big black dude in a speedo for some reason), is chasing you around a mansion. Those parts were actually pretty tense and fun. Overall though, it’s a pretty mediocre game. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but the biggest Resident Evil fans who want to try everything (I think I would rather play Survivor again than this). Supposedly the sequel is a lot better. It’s been so long that I really don’t remember, but I guess we’ll see…

So now that I have a smart tv packed full of emulators, it seems that I’m going to be playing a lot more classic games again. I won’t be able to take proper videos of the action like I could on the old PC, but eh, whatever. I’ll just have to talk your heads off in this horribly-named new feature instead.

One of the nice things about emulators is that you can play rare translated foreign games or odd little hacks like the Ninja Gaiden 3 easy mode hack version. Most people who played NES back in the day will tell you good things about Ninja Gaiden 1 and 2, but no one will ever say “boy that Ninja Gaiden 3 sure was great!” though. Arguably the biggest reason behind this was the bizarre spike in difficulty in what was already a near-obscenely difficult series. The levels and enemies were even tougher than before, but even worse was the fact that Tecmo had now slapped a 5 continue limit on you, making the game virtually impossible to finish legitimately. This hacked version tones things down a bit and does away with the continue limit, but make no mistake, it’s still an incredibly difficult game.

Unfortunately, even with the difficulty issues removed, it’s just an inferior game to its predecessors all around. The story is goofy nonsense about mutant clones and inter-dimensional invaders and there just isn’t anything particularly new or memorable about any of the levels or enemies. It’s still a classic Ninja Gaiden game, and so it’s not entirely devoid of fun, but it’s just one of those lazy just-more-of-the-same sequels that doesn’t really bring anything of its own to the table.

Fatal Rewind was one of those weird Genesis games that you found randomly at the video store, but never heard of anywhere else. This was back in the day when EA was pumping out a lot of weird, obscure Amiga ports for Genesis and doing a terrible job of advertising any of them. Fatal Rewind dug its own grave even deeper by being unbelievably difficult. The premise is that you’re on a futuristic reality TV show where you have to fight your way through a bunch of deadly enemies in a bunch of deadly levels to survive, but the catch is that there’s deadly acid rising from the floor in every level, giving you a pretty unforgiving time limit to find the exits.

To make matters worse the levels get increasingly labyrinthine and convoluted. I mean shit gets really, really over-complicated. In one later level, where the enemies and level layout are already tough enough by themselves, it also turns out that you need to collect 9 letters scattered throughout the level. Naturally this sounds too easy, and it is, because you can only pick them up using a Collector equippable item, and you can only carry one equippable item at a time, including all the various keys you need to get through a level, and it’s the only one of its kind in the whole level, AND it has limited uses too. Oh good, you juggled the Collector through the whole level and got all the letters and made it to the exit? Well it’s still locked you fucking idiot, because you have to use an unexplained series of switches to operate a weird devices that rearranges letters to spell out a word to unlock the exit. Hope you figure it out before that acid gets here!

This game is just…it’s absolutely impossible without using save states unless you’re some kind of grand master video game savant, and I’m not bad, but I’m not that level. I always wanted to see the later levels and finish this damn game though. Big surprise, there is basically no ending anyway, and it took so long to beat this one that I ran out of time to play any others so that’s the end for now. Oh welllllllllllllll.

Now Playing: Contra series (1987-?) Part 1

Oh, original Contra, how I love thee. Ever since I played you at my cousin’s house, then begged to have you for Christmas, then my grandparents bought me GOLF instead, and I cried like a little bitch. Anyway…Contra is still one of the greatest games ever made, to this day. I’d put it in my top 5 greatest games of all time without hesitation. It was amazing then and it’s still amazing now. I must have played it hundreds of times by now and I still never get tired of this damn game. It is the ultimate arcade shooter with awesome combat, level design, boss design, and music. It’s also one of those rare games where the home version was actually better than the original arcade version it was based on. The arcade version had better graphics, but was inferior in every other way. The music was nowhere near as good, the controls (especially that weird jumping) were a bit awkward, the levels were much shorter, and some of the best bosses were completely missing. No contest. It’s really kind of a shame that there have been so many damn sequels, yet not one of them has ever been as perfect as the original. Still gonna play em all though!

Continue reading “Now Playing: Contra series (1987-?) Part 1”

Now Reading: Miracleman

Miracleman, originally called Marvelman, was originally a blatant Captain Marvel/Shazam ripoff, but upon his revival in the early 80s by THE ORIGINAL WRITER, he became one of the earliest examples of a superhero comic trying to be painfully realistic. Miracleman confronts his goofy secret origin, meets his creator, wrestles with his own godliness, and reaches the only natural conclusion that a godlike superbeing could reach, that he and the few others like him should run the world. This occurred a bit before Gruenwald did it in Squadron Supreme, and was of course, with THE ORIGINAL WRITER involved, a great deal more graphic about it.

It’s not the greatest work of THE ORIGINAL WRITER, but it was still a very memorable series while it lasted and under the Comico label, was able to deal with much more mature and dark issues than the other mainstream superhero books were allowed to touch on at the time. Neil Gaiman picked up the title after THE ORIGINAL WRITER left, but the publisher went under right before the last issue of his second arc, The Silver Age, leaving us with arguably the worst case of comic book blue balls in history. Amazingly though, since Marvel picked up the rights and reprinted all the old stuff over the last few years, they have finally made a deal with Gaiman to come back and finish the story, which is supposed to be happening sometime this year. Maybe he’ll even get to do the final arc he had planned, The Dark Age. We shall see.

Anyway, despite the way these modern Marvel reprints are disgustingly overpriced and packed full of filler “extras” pages (literally only 50% or less of each volume is actual story), they remain the best, and realistically the only, way to physically enjoy this essential classic series.