Nintendo Switch Online thread

 
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It's been a long time coming, but unfortunately, starting on the 18th, the Nintendo Switch's online service will finally require a paid subscription. The best individual membership will run you $19.99 USD for 12 months, which is actually pretty damn cheap when compared to PS+ and XBLG, both of which charge $59.99 for the same length of time. Still, it's a pretty obnoxious and invasive move that I'm sure a lot of people aren't going to be aware of when the time comes to make the switch—especially when Nintendo's online services have always been free—so the service better offer a lot of cool shit to make it 100% worth your money.

https://www.nintendo.com/switch/online-service/

The first benefit listed is online play (duh), which still only applies to a handful of games at the moment: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, Arms, and Mario Tennis Aces—all of which, of course, could already be played online for free in the past. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be the first big Nintendo game to require a paid subscription from the start if you wanted to play online.

The second benefit is getting access to a library of classic NES games, some of which will be enhanced for online play. There will only be twenty at launch, but of course, they'll be adding more to it. I'll come back to this one later, as it's the benefit I'm the most interested in.

The third benefit is being able to save your game data to the cloud. It's done automatically (so long as you're connected), and since it's tied to your account, you'll be able to access your data on another system if you needed to. That's pretty cool, I guess. It's hard for me to imagine ever needing it, because I'm super careful with my consoles, but I'm sure people who have rambunctious children could benefit majorly from this one.

The fourth benefit is a Smartphone app that will allow for voice chat for the aforementioned online games. Personally, Discord works well enough for me, but people seem really excited about this one for some reason, so I guess it's a good thing.

The fifth benefit are "special offers" that are only available to NSO members, of which only two are listed at the moment: 1.) For $59.99, NSO members can purchase a couple of Joy-Cons modeled after NES controllers—because there's no better way to play NES ROMs. For reference, the normal price for a standard pair of Joy-Cons (at least, the last time I checked) is $79.99. So if these seem expensive, it's actually kind of a deal, even though it could probably be better. 2.) A special outfit for your Splatoon 2 character.

And that's it for now.

Now, about those NES games. I may not be able to review the service itself, because it's not out yet, but I can review all of those NES titles, since I've played all but two of them.

I'm probably the most ardent retro gamer here, so for your benefit, I'm gonna play consumer watchdog and go over and rank all twenty of the launch titles for the new NES library—partly for the fun of it, partly to let you know which ones are worth your time. I love NES games, and I think there's still a lot of them that play just fine in 2018, but I'd be lying if I said they've all aged nicely. I'd like for this to be a hub for all NSO-related news, too, so every time there's a new NES title dropping on the service, I'll be sure to review it here.

This list will start at #20 and go from worst to best, and because I think x/10 is too demanding for these older games, I'll use the x/5 scale instead.

5/5 - Must-play. Historical. Won't be perfect due to the nature of NES games, but you owe it to yourself to try it anyway.
4/5 - Very good. Still holds up, but may not be to everybody's tastes or standards. May require patience to appreciate.
3/5 - Rough. Mixed. Average. So-so. Decent. Good on a good day, bad on a bad day. Not for everyone. Worth trying.
2/5 - Bad, either by design or through poor aging. Rarely worth playing unless you have a vested interest in the IP.
1/5 - Dreadful. Mostly third party shovelware. Probably received a humorous AVGN review at some point. Avoid.



#18. Soccer
YouTube

More like Sucker. This was actually one of the original NES launch titles when it dropped in late 1985—or at least, I think it was, but some sources claim otherwise—and while the NES is credited to saving the American video game industry, it definitely wasn't because of this game.

I know I'm not the biggest sports fan in the world, but trust me when I say that my low placing of this game has little to do with my lack of interest in the genre. It's genuinely just a pretty weak simulation of association football—even for the time, I'd argue.

The biggest problem has to be the overall pacing of the game. I associate soccer with speed, finesse, and wildly precise movements—all of which are remarkably absent in this game, lending to its very sluggish and clunky feel. If you can look past that, the gameplay itself is just fine. The controls are simple, but intuitive—"A" shoots, "B" passes—and your goalie is controllable as soon as he's visible on the screen. Like, simultaneously. It's kinda weird.

Once you score a couple goals, though, the game starts becoming incredibly monotonous. The one song that plays gets pretty old fast, and I always hated how all the players on the scoring team would celebrate by flapping their arms around like idiots. Visually, the solid green textureless astroturf field becomes hard to look at after a while, too. This is a game that epitomizes monotony.

On top of all this, I just have a fundamental issue with trying to make a video game out of a sport that involves physical activity. To me, the whole point of video games is about being able to do things that cannot already be done in the real world, whereas the point of contact sports is that you're not sitting on your ass playing some game—you're outside in a field with other people and a ball, exerting yourself physically. It's a physical game. That's the point.

Obviously, various fundamental aspects of soccer are going to be lost when you play a virtual version of it—namely, the fact that you're not allowed to touch the ball with your hands. Those aspects of the game aren't present in Soccer for Nintendo. I'm not trying to say that sports games should be perfect simulations, or that this game is necessarily trying to be one, or anything. I'm just questioning why these games need to exist in the first place.

There's a few things I like about it, though. Like I said—if you can get over the fact that the game is very slow-paced, the first couple minutes are mildly entertaining. I like how the ball itself is animated, giving it a pseudo-3D look. It's definitely the most interesting thing to look at. The cheerleaders that dance around during the half-time show is a pretty cute touch, even if it's a waste of time—it's the only time the music changes, too.

In terms of options, I can't really complain much either. You have a solid selection of teams representing seven different countries—the US, Great Britan, France, West Germany, Brazil, Japan, and Spain. You can also select between five different AI skill levels, and set the time limit for 15, 30, or 45 minute halves (on a ~5x accelerated clock), not that you'll actually want to play for more than 5.

Naturally, the game is also 2-player, so this will likely be playable online with a friend for the upcoming NSO service. I've never played the game with anyone more than myself before, but I'm willing to bet that it's marginally more entertaining if you have someone else to suffer with. Because, you know, just about everything is.

It may not be the worst sports game ever made, but it's the worst one available on NSO thus far. Don't feel too bad, though. Its developer, Intelligent Systems, went on to create the Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, and Paper Mario franchises, so they're doing just fine.

Overall rating:
2/5



#17. Baseball
YouTube

One of the oldest games the NES has to offer, Baseball is marginally superior to Soccer, but is still one of the weaker games available for the NSO service. Originally released in 1983, it absolutely reeks with age, but to its credit, is actually a fairly complete baseball simulator with all the basic mechanics intact—steals and pick-offs, and even "squeeze plays, hit and run plays, and tag up plays" (whatever the fuck those are) as described in the manual.

I suck at this game—or at least, I suck at hitting. I have a reasonable eye for knowing when and when not to swing, but when the time comes to actually swing, I'm the easiest out of all time. I never really understood the timing required to hit a home run, or hit the ball literally anywhere other than the outfielders' hands or out of bounds. There's either something wrong with me, or the game really is just that difficult. Whatever the case may be, the amount of fun I'm able to have with this game is severely limited.

Controlling base runners is a little confusing and hard to describe, but it works. As simply as I can put it, the arrows on the D-pad correspond to the bases. When batting, pressing "B" after selecting a runner will tell him to advance, and pressing "A" after selecting a runner will have them run back. Pressing down selects all the runners at once. The D-pad/diamond correspondence is also how you get outfielders to pass, steal bases when batting, and go for pick-offs when fielding. It's actually kinda neat how it works, and I'm sure modern baseball sims function the same way.

When it comes to pitching, I feel like I know a little bit more about what I'm doing. Or maybe the AI is just really bad. You can throw five different kinds of pitches—you got your fast balls, your slow balls, your curve balls, and your screw balls (my favorite). Once pitched, I think the ball's can be influenced by pressing the D-pad, but I'm not 100% on that. It's the most fun I can have with the game.

Now, here's where the game starts to feel really old: You don't get to control any of your outfielders. You can tell them when to throw, sure, but you can't actually control their running—you're at the mercy of the AI's pathfinding. This isn't necessarily a bad thing—actually, it's somewhat realistic when, after all, you're only in control of yourself in the real world—but it's definitely something that makes you go "huh" when playing. Personally, it makes me feel a little less engaged as a player when I have less shit to do.

Fans of the sport might be pleased to know that the game does feature real teams—but they never got the licensing, so no actual stats, player names, or even team names show up at any point in the game. Instead, teams are represented by their initials: A, C, D, P, R, and Y. I'm sure actual baseball fans would be able to parse out what those all stand for—I'm sure "Y" is for Yankees—but ultimately, it doesn't super matter, since the only thing that changes are the uniform colors. Like I said, there are no stats or player names here, and even if there were, the license would've expired by now anyway.

Beyond the major hangups I have with the game, if you can get a hang for the controls and the bullshit, it's a fairly serviceable albeit painfully basic baseball game that future simulators on NES would vastly improve upon. And again, it's probably much more fun with a second player.

Overall rating:
2/5



#16. Tennis
YouTube

Okay, I promise—this isn't the last sports game on the list, but it's the last sports game at the bottom of the list.

Released in 1984, Tennis is another ancient-ass Nintendo game based on a world-renowned sport—but this time, it's a sport I actually understand. As a result, I don't suck at this one, but it still wouldn't be my first choice for a tennis simulator if I really wanted to play one one.

The game plays pretty much exactly as you'd expect it to. There's nothing too crazy about it, so as long as you're familiar with how tennis scoring works, you'll probably do just fine. There's five difficulty levels for the AI, and you can apparently play doubles, which I've never tried before.

My biggest problem, I suppose, has to do with the hit detection. It feels a little wonky—even when you hit the ball, there's no oomph or impact to it. It always feels like you're swinging through air, so it's not the most satisfying game to play. That said, tennis is one of those rare sports I find inherently appealing, however, given that it's one-on-one, making matches feel more intimate and intense. And, uh, easier to understand what's going on.

For a sports game to be considered outstanding, it has to be more than just a played-straight simulation. It has to have something unique about it that gives it character or personality. Soccer may be a worse game, but the one thing it has over Tennis is personality. Little touches like half-time shows and stupidly over-the-top victory animations go a long way for me, and if Tennis had any of those, I wouldn't have any qualms with placing it higher on this list.

Overall, not too bad. I'd obviously much rather stick to Mario Tennis Aces, though.

Overall rating:
3/5



#15. Donkey Kong
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Shigeru Miyamoto's first outing as a game designer, the legendary Donkey Kong was originally released for the arcade in 1981, making it the oldest and arguably most important game on the list—that being said, this is a game I find myself respecting more than I personally enjoy it.

You can use the word "first" to describe many things about this game. It's not only the first Donkey Kong game, but the first Mario game, as well. It's the first platformer, with jumping as a prominent mechanic. It's the first game to put Nintendo on the map for the Western market. It's the first game to have a damsel-in-distress narrative (or any narrative at all), setting the stage for games to become a storytelling medium, rather than just simple, vapid entertainment—even if it is just a cross between Popeye and King Kong.

The three main characters have personalities expressed through graphics, which have endured to become cultural iconography. Mario is depicted as a pudgy middle-aged average Joe with a big goofy mustache, because drawing a more detailed face was too difficult with such a small sprite—a design so perfect, it's not far off from how he's depicted today. It's amazing what they were able to do with such limitations.

There's very little I can say about this game and its lore that hasn't been said a million different ways already—I just think it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge the game's significance to the industry. What do I actually think of the game itself, and why does it rank so low despite how important and legendary it is?

The short answer is because I simply like the rest of the games more. I'm reviewing the NES port, too, mind you—there are aspects of this version that make it noticeably inferior to the arcade original.

The long answer is because I was never actually that big into the game to begin with—even if I were in the mood to play some old classic arcade games. When it comes to those, I've always been more fond of Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Joust more than I've ever been into Donkey Kong. I always found it a little too slow-paced, and found its rules and mechanics a little bit frustrating. And because of how the game's story is told, I never feel compelled to save Pauline more than once.

Mario may have been called "Jumpman," but in this game, he's never been worse at jumping. He can only jump as high as a single body length, and you can't control his trajectory in mid-air. That's fine—it works for the type of game this is, and it's pretty easy to get the hang of. The worst thing is this: if Mario jumps or falls any more than a single body length, he's going to lose a life. I can understand dying after falling nine or ten body lengths, but the game is really unforgiving about this, and I always considered it one of its most frustrating aspects.

The endlessly iconic first level, 25m, is my favorite—but the NES version screws up part of what makes it so good. In the original arcade version, Donkey Kong is shown climbing up the red steel girders while carrying Mario's at-the-time girlfriend, Pauline, with him—establishing the game's conflict in about three wordless seconds. As he stomps over to his barrel-throwing position, he causes the girders to slant out of place, allowing Mario to climb up them easier. The NES version lacks this scene, which I always thought was kind of lame.

The second level, 50m (also known as the "pie factory" stage) is conspicuously absent from the NES port. Never in my life have I played it. I know you have to save Pauline at least once before the stage even shows up, but believe me—it's just not there.

In its place, 75m serves as the second stage—and wow, this level gave me so much grief as a kid. It's the stage with the elevators, where Mario's lack of jumping prowess really starts to bite you in the ass. Pauline's hat, purse, and parasol are also scattered about this stage, and even though all they do is give you extra points, I could never resist gathering every single one of them. Oh, and I can't forget the fucking spring. It's such a weird obstacle to have in the game. I always thought it was super out of place. It doesn't help that it constantly makes noise as it bounces around.

100m is the last stage, and probably the lamest one. All you have to do is step over all the rivets supporting the steel girders, causing Donkey Kong to drop onto his head, rescuing Pauline. It's super easy compared to 75m, and it's not even interesting to play.

And that's it—from then on, the NES version just cycles through these three stages over and over, with a slight increase in speed and difficulty each go-around. No pie factory or anything. Pretty lame, if you ask me—it would be nice if they implemented all the arcade game's touches to the NSO version, but I'm not holding my breath.

If you were wondering what "Game B" is all about, it's the same thing as beating the game once—just a more difficult version of the first loop. The multiplayer, as far as I know, is just a mode that allows a second player to play as soon as you die. They don't play as Luigi, or anything—Luigi didn't exist until 1983.

As I said before, this is a game I respect more than I enjoy—especially the substandard NES version, which doesn't have all the levels and doesn't have the intro cutscene. I definitely don't dislike it, but it's never been one of my favorites. It's probably worth trying out if you haven't already, just so you can say you've played the first-ever Mario game.

Overall rating:
3/5



#14. Mario Bros.
YouTube

Originally released for the arcades in 1983, Mario Bros. is the second game in the Mario series, and the first one to feature Luigi to represent player 2. If the title gives you any hint, the game is pretty much meant to be played in multiplayer, and it's where most of the game's entertainment value lies.

The object of the game is to plumb the sewers of all the enemies that emerge from the pipes. Unlike modern Mario, you cannot simply jump on the enemies' heads and expect them to perish—instead, you have to knock them over by bumping their platform as they walk by, and then you can kick them while they're vulnerable. You'll come across three different enemy types—turtles, crabs, and flies—as well as avoid a small variety of obstacles, like fireballs and sliding pieces of ice. Crabs need to be bumped twice, while flies are more difficult because they bounce around.

If you take too long to kick a vulnerable enemy, it'll get back up—this time stronger, with a different color palette to indicate that it's pissed. The last enemy on the screen will also get stronger to indicate that it's the only one you need to get rid of to clear the stage.

If you're overwhelmed, you can utilize the POW block which will flip over all grounded enemies on the screen—but only three times, and all already-flipped enemies will return to their normal position, as well, so strategic use of this block is necessary. Bonus rounds involving the collection of coins within a set time limit are also prevalent, but there's little purpose to them beyond achieving a high score. As an arcade-style game, there is no real ending—you just play forever until you lose all your lives, or if you just get bored.

And you will, because the single player experience is an intensely boring experience. Getting a second player is essential—not only does it tend to speed up each round, it's also just fun to fuck around with each other, since the game never explicitly says you have to cooperate. Indeed, the POW block can be used to make the other player bounce helplessly, making them vulnerable—and suddenly, the game is now about who can kill off the other player first. It's pretty hilarious, but I wouldn't try this with anyone who would take it too seriously.

Just as before, "Game B" is simply a more difficult version of "Game A." There's not much else to the game than what I just described. This will definitely be one of the more popular games to play online when the NSO service drops, but the reason I've ranked it on the lower end is because the single player experience is so weak.

Overall Rating:
3/5



#13. Ice Climber
YouTube

This game probably isn't getting ranked above heavy-hitters like Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. on other people's lists, but truthfully and honestly, I think this game is much better than those other two.

Another one of the original NES launch titles, Ice Climber is a vertical platforming game—setting itself apart from the typical horizontal platforming found in Super Mario Bros.—themed around the concept of mountaineering. Uniquely, of the game's 32 mountains to climb, you can actually select which mountain you want to start on, which is really nice.

The object of the game is to climb to the top of each mountain by using your mallet to bust the blocks above you and defeating enemies with it along the way. In the Japanese version of the game, the standard enemy is a seal called a Topi, but since seal-clubbing is a pretty touchy subject over in the west, the sprite was altered to a more original monster design resembling a little yeti. I prefer this change—I'm not necessarily morally outraged with clubbing a seal in a cartoony video game like this, but I do think the yeti design is much cooler.

Other enemies include a bird thing that swoops down on you, and my favorite—the motherfucking polar bear that stands on two legs and wears red shorts AND sunglasses. It's the best. He only appears if you take too long to climb the mountain, and forces your advancement by stomping on the ground, which forces the screen to move up a little bit.

The jazzy music that plays during the bonus round (where you collect vegetables) is awesome, and the whole game has this distinctly bright and sunny atmosphere that's oddly incongruent with the game's setting, but juxtaposed in such a pleasant way that it actually puts you in the perfect mood to climb some fucking mountains—and that's really the game's primary appeal for me. Even if the gameplay itself is fairly average, it has enough spark and personality to keep things fun for longer than you might think.

The game's 2-player mode is similar to Mario Bros. in that both players are on the screen simultaneously, and you can choose amongst yourselves to either compete or cooperate with each other. Player 1 plays as Popo, the boy in the blue parka, and player 2 plays as Nana, the girl in the pink parka. Smash players will be all too familiar with these names, for although the Ice Climbers never got a sequel, they did appear as playable characters in Super Smash Bros. to represent the classic 8-bit era. Sakurai must've been a fan.

And so am I, to a degree. I'm not extremely enthusiastic about this game—I do think it suffers a little from the Mario Bros. single player syndrome—but I do think it has the potential to be one of the most fun games to play with a friend online when the Switch service drops. I would try it out, especially if you happen to enjoy the Ice Climbers in Smash.

Overall Rating:
3/5



#12. Excitebike
YouTube

Originally released in 1984, Excitebike is pure fun—but a couple of shortcomings present in the NES version which I'll discuss later prevent me from giving it a higher placing.

"Selection A" is essentially a one-man Motocross race where you're just trying to reach the end in record time. "Selection B" is the same thing, except you're actually racing against several AI. As you might expect, holding "A" accelerates, and the "B" button is for greater acceleration at the risk of overheating your bike. You can move along the Y-axis by pushing up or down, which is necessary to avoid crashing into vehicles and other obstacles.

If someone bumps into you from behind, only they will crash, which can be used to your advantage with smart driving. Mashing the "A" button after crashing will help you run back to your bike faster. You can catch a lot of air on ramps with careful movement, so long as you watch your landing—too far to the left or right will result in a crash, but a perfect balance will result in a smooth landing. Wheelies can be performed, but just for fun—I don't think they're useful.

And that's pretty much the game. You might've noticed that "fun in simplicity" is a recurring theme with these early NES titles, but if that's not your bag, don't worry—there's plenty of NES games with a lot more depth and purpose to them. The appeal of Excitebike is in the satisfying controls and mechanics—it actually does feel like you're in a Motocross race, which is an impressive feeling for a 30-year-old 8-bit game to give you.

The "Design" mode is a level editor, and a pretty impressively extensive one at that—it's definitely the coolest feature of all, and one of my favorite features to have in a game in general. It's basically the only reason why I have it ranked above Ice Climber.

Excitebike is not the first game to have a level editor—I think Lode Runner and Wrecking Crew beat it out by a couple of years—but the fact that it's present in the game at all is super cool. Or, you know, it would be if the damn thing worked properly. You see, in the NES version, there's ultimately no point in creating a track, because as soon as you turn the game off, it's going to get lost forever.

The Japanese version of the game for the allowed you to save your tracks, but the NES save feature is completely functionless—though it remains a selectable option anyway, just to mock you. That fucking sucks, and when the NSO service drops, I'll definitely be on the lookout for a fixed level editor. As it stands now, the NES version is fun for about 10 to 20 minutes before it starts becoming a little dry.

Overall Rating:
3/5



#11. Ice Hockey
YouTube

See? I told you I wasn't just going to have all the sports games at the bottom. Ice Hockey is a fine example of a sports game done right, in my opinion—and while there are certainly better hockey games on NES, like Konami's Blades of Steel, it's this game that made it on the Nintendo Switch's online service.

Originally released in 1988, making it one of the "newer" games when Nintendo had a couple more years of experience making games, Ice Hockey is almost everything I wanted out of Soccer and Baseball—a game that actually fucking feels like you're playing the sport in the title.

Fast-paced, smoothly animated, great music, teams representing seven different countries (the US, Sweden, Canada, Poland, USSR, and Czechoslovakia), and players with varying stats—you have your fat players, who are slow but strong, the skinny players, who are fast but easily get bowled over by the fatties, and then the average players. This may seem painfully standard today, but having these three different classes of player was a big step forward in terms of making these sports games feel more fleshed out, realistic, and satisfying to play. Even fights can occur, though they're not as over-the-top and graphically presented as they are in Blades of Steel, where the game actually becomes a fighting game for a moment.

I hope you've been watching the gameplay clips I've been posting for each title, because sometimes, you just have to see what I'm talking about in order to understand and appreciate what makes a game like this so much more fun to play than older sports games. Unlike Soccer, the rink is detailed and nice to look at. Unlike Baseball, the players have strengths and weaknesses (despite being balanced for each country). Unlike Tennis, striking the puck actually has an impact to it, because it makes a beautiful WHACK sound effect and it's animated properly. The game's "half-time show" involves a bunch of ice resurfacers doing what they do to some nice music. Nothing too flashy.

I don't know what else to say, really—it just goes to show you that sports games can be lots of fun, so long as you fine tune the mechanics and make it feel authentic. That's what I like to see.

Overall Rating:
4/5



#10. Tecmo Bowl
YouTube

When I described Ice Hockey as a game that did "almost" everything I wanted to see in a sports game, Tecmo Bowl not only fills in the rest, but offers so much more. It, along with its 1991 sequel, Tecmo Super Bowl, are probably the best sports games the NES has to offer. The first game in this series is marred with niggling issues, which I'll try my best as a non-sports fan to go over—but, in general, Tecmo did a fantastic job with this game, considering the time (1987, arcade) and the limitations set forth by the NES port (1989).

Most of you probably know that I'm not the biggest fucking fan of American football, and I don't actually know the first thing about how the game works—the appeal of this game for me comes from its overall design, and not necessarily the gameplay itself. Thought I'd be transparent about that. So, just bear with me.

The game has all the basic modes you'd expect—1.) a single player game where you select your favorite team, and try to defeat all the other teams to beat the game, 2.) a multiplayer match where you and a friend face off, and 3.) a coaching mode, where you don't control the players—you only select the plays.

The AI doesn't always make the best decisions, and even if they do something stupid—my dad says they like to "go for it on 4th-and-1 in their own territory in the 1st quarter" and whatnot. I don't know what that shit means, but apparently it's a thing, and he didn't sound too enthusiastic about it. 2-player games where both players know what they're doing seems to be the way to go.

One of the coolest things about the game in general is that not only was Tecmo able to pick up the license to use the names of every player in the 1989 roster, they implemented their rudimentary stats and uniform colors as well. This is obviously standard fare for modern sports games like Madden, but (and I could be wrong about this) I believe this is the first time it's ever been done to any significant degree. It's not perfect, though—the actual NFL team names aren't in the game at all; only their respective cities, and the logos shown for each team are completely made up.

For example, this is the logo they came up with for the Denver Broncos:


What the fuck is that shit? Pretty hilarious.

There are twelve available teams: six for the AFC (the Raiders, Colts, Dolphins, Broncos, Seahawks, and Browns), and six for the NFC (the Redskins, 49ers, Cowboys, Giants, Bears, and Vikings). I'm not sure how many teams even existed in the 80s, but that seems like a bunch to me. Unlike actual football, only nine players from each team can be on the field (as opposed to the usual eleven), and each team can only select between a grand total of 4 plays—two passes and two runs, or sometimes three passes and one run. Definitely limiting, but if you're an idiot like me who can't even read the playbook formations, you're just going to select whichever one your gut goes with anyway.

Or you can just pick the Los Angeles Raiders and pass the ball to Bo Jackson.

You see, in the '80s, one of the best players in the league was a guy called Bo Jackson. He was a running back for the Raiders, and apparently just tore shit up on the field, because they made him the most OP player in this entire game. He's the only running back in the game that can just straight-up outrun the defense, and as long as you know what you're doing, you can't actually be stopped. It's comical.

So the game is horribly unbalanced, but whatever it's fine. It's a rare case where you're almost okay with it, because Jackson's sheer strength as a player has sort of become an amusing Internet joke over the years among football fans.


Everything nice I said about Ice Hockey before applies to this game as well—perhaps even more so. Another thing I especially love is the implementation of incomplete passes—it's very rare, but it can happen. Remember when I was complaining about how certain sports games never implement stuff like that? The idea that you can fail to catch a ball that's been thrown to you is something that never would've been implemented if this game were designed in 1985, so it's cool that it's a thing here—even if it's just random bullshit.

There's a password system so you can keep track of your win record, but no one's gonna want to write down a password that only ruins their perfect streak.

The graphics and animation have a crisp and fluid look to them, and if you understand the game of football, it's not difficult to understand what's going on at all (source: my dad, who played this shit all the time when he was a kid). The excellent music and sound effects, coupled with the intense and blitz-happy nature of the 4-play system, all work to give the game a fiery testosterone-fueled atmosphere that goes perfectly with the whole football thing. Certain important actions like kick-offs, field goals, and—of course—touchdowns are accompanied by these delightfully cheesy cutscenes to help keep the energy flowing.


I also love my half-time shows in these games—it's always nice to see the developers have fun with these things, since it proves to me that they put their heart into the game, as opposed to just making a soullessly perfect simulation with nothing too crazy ever happening.


Bottom line—American football is an extremely complex game in real life, so for a handful of people to design a game like this that is able to replicate the game so well on a primitive 8-bit system is inherently impressive to me, and it definitely deserves praise for that alone. It's made even better that the game features some captivating elements that can keep even people like me, who have NO interest in football, playing the game. The love and passion for the sport that went into this game is obvious, and even though it's not perfect (and was vastly improved upon later), it's still one of the better sports titles for the NES.

However, there's one caveat for the version that will be released for the NSO service. Obviously, Nintendo no longer has the license for any of the player names, so unfortunately, they probably won't show up at all for the service. Cities, team colors, player stats, and player numbers will all be in-tact—but you won't know any of the player's names, unless you have an encyclopedic knowledge of old-school American football.

For your benefit, in case you ever wanted to experience the power of Tecmo Bo Jackson, his player number is 34. He's a running back for the Los Angeles Raiders.

Overall Rating:
4/5



#9. Dr. Mario
YouTube

Originally released in 1990, Dr. Mario is a Tetris-like puzzle game where you help Mario kill viruses by stacking three like-colored pills onto them (either red, blue, or yellow).

The game is addicting by nature, and though I wouldn't say it's nearly as good as Tetris, it still has a charm and appeal all its own, and serves as a decent change of pace if Tetris is the only game of this style you've ever played. The megavitamins are affected by gravity, so when one half disappears, the other half will fall down—paying attention to and exploiting this particular mechanic will reveal the game's true depth.

Like Ice Climber, you can choose which level you want to start on—even the very last one, where the medicine bottle is nearly filled to the very brim with every color of virus. I'd love to see someone beat that.

Unlike Tetris, where you're normally able to choose between three different music tracks to jam to, Dr. Mario only offers two—"Fever" and "Chill"—but they're both still bangers. "Fever" is probably the more iconic of the two, but I've always preferred the atmosphere of "Chill."

The game doesn't lend itself to much analysis; it's just a good game for puzzle fans.

It's interesting, again, how Dr. Mario was chosen as a character in Super Smash Bros. I can't imagine he's a character too many people have requested before, but he's certainly not an unwelcome addition to that game's roster.

Overall Rating:
4/5



#8. Pro Wrestling
YouTube

Indeed, this is the "A WINNER IS YOU" game.

Originally released in 1986, this is probably my favorite wrestling game of all time, which is high praise coming from someone who doesn't give a fuck about wrestling in general. It's the closest the NES has to a straight fighting game, and it's just fun as hell.

One or two players can choose between six different combatants: Fighter Hayabusa of Japan, Star Man of Mexico(?)
Kin Corn Karn of Korea, Giant Panther of the US, The Amazon (green monster of unknown origin), or King Slender of the US. The name "Kin Corn Karn" still makes me laugh to this day. All the fighters have the same moves, but they all have one or two of their own unique special moves—Fighter Hayabusa has a hard-to-land drop kick that stuns your opponent pretty badly, and the Amazon has an attack where he tries to chomp his opponent's head off. It's awesome.


The single player game has you choose your fighter before pitting you against the five others—King Slender being the VWA (Video Wrestling Association) champion and the first "boss" of the game. If King Slender is chosen, then Giant Panther will be the final opponent instead. After winning, the second phase begins—a Title Defense mode.

From here, if you can win ten more fights without losing once, you'll be able to fight against the game's true final boss: Great Puma, champion of the VWF (Video Wrestling Federation). I've never been able to do this, personally—I can make it to Title Defense, but then it starts getting a little too hard.

Pressing the "A" and "B" buttons will punch and kick, respectively—the kick always knocks your opponent down, and you can always attempt to tap them out, but you won't actually get anywhere until you actually start using some wrestling techniques. When you and your opponent are clinched, you can enter a specific button combination, and if you're faster than your opponent, you'll perform whatever move your inputs command. I don't full understand how it all works, though—it's one of those things that requires you to read the manual. I've seen body slams, suplexes, and all kinds of crazy shit just by mashing the buttons. If your opponent is stunned, you can try to climb at the top of the ropes and nail them with a flying body slam or knee drop if you're feeling stylish, but only if you think you have enough time.

You can also bounce off the ropes and attempt to clothesline your opponent, but you can also be thrown against the ropes and be completely helpless—and vice-versa. The coolest part of any match has to be when someone gets tossed out of the ring. At this point, you can pretty much just wail on each other, because the match can only continue for a few seconds when one player is out of the ring—so it's all about running a train over your opponent and stunning them long enough to where they can't limp over to the ring in time.

It's cool to me how animated the crowd is—and how there's not only a referee constantly in the ring, but a fucking cameraman outside the ring, as well. If you haven't caught the theme by now, I'm big on games that have a lot of personality, and this game is brimming with it. If you consider yourself someone who finds wrestling games monotonous, then this one probably isn't for you—but I don't think there's a better game in the genre available for NES, and it's a great addition for the Switch's online service.

I've heard it through the grapevine that they actually fixed the Engrish, though—the victory screen now has the slightly-more-grammatically-sensible "WINNER IS YOU" rather than "A WINNER IS YOU." If that's true, then the game might just be literally unplayable.

Overall Rating:
4/5



#7. Ghosts 'n Goblins
YouTube

Originally released for the arcade in 1985, I actually fucking hate this game—but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't because I'm terrible at it. Objectively speaking, the NES port is pretty rough around the edges, and a lot of janky shit can happen, but I think the game has enough going for it to warrant putting it on the upper-middle end of this list.

While having a picnic in a fucking graveyard or some shit, your girlfriend gets kidnapped by a devil, and now you have to rescue her from a horde of ghosts and goblins. The game is notoriously one of the most difficult games of all time—which is ironic, considering it actually throws you somewhat of a bone by allowing you to get hit once before dying—but you have to beat it twice in one go to get the true ending. I've never made it significantly far without getting too frustrated, it's one of those games.

What helps the game's appeal for me is its strong music and consistently cartoonish gothic art design. If Castlevania paid homage to old classic horror films with its imagery, this game pays tribute to every children's Halloween party ever. It's delightful, and if nothing else makes you want to see what comes next, it's gonna be that.

The game is a little bit faster-paced than Castlevania, though, and the level design is much weaker and more haphazard. While the game does demand much of your skill as a player, and encourages you to play cautiously, there's still a lot of bullshit. Enemies will occasionally pop up out of absolutely nowhere, giving you no time to react—and even though it's cool that you can get different weapon power-ups, the fact that the weapons you get seem to drop at complete random (and never when you want them to) doesn't really boost the game's fun factor very much.

The difficulty is kinda unfair, but it instills within the player a sense of defiance. Even though I've never been good at this game, I've never ruled out the possibility of me being able to inch my way through it—but depending on how the rest of the game is, my opinion on the game could change drastically. For now, it'll sit at the #7 spot. Definitely worth trying, but be patient and expect to get your shit pushed in.

Overall Rating:
4/5



#6. Double Dragon
YouTube

I normally associate beat 'em ups with monotony, lack of depth, and braindead gameplay—so it's always nice when a game can take a genre you hate, and have you respect it to a certain degree.

Originally released in 1987 for the arcades, the NES port of Double Dragon is one of the great classics of the genre. The plot is as bare bones as it gets: Thugs took your girl; go after them. Fortunately, you play as Billy Badass (actually, it's just Billy Lee), a martial artist who learns more and more techniques as the game goes on.

The reason I tend to hate games like this is because of how little the developers care to balance and flesh out the characters moveset. There's a fundamental disconnect between me and everyone else, it seems—I'm playing to win, so I'm going to figure out which moves are my strongest, and just spam the shit out of them, because I don't want to lose. Meanwhile, everyone else is just here to have fun, and they're okay with using the full extent of your available techniques for the sake of being flashy, even if it's completely impractical or unnecessary. This is why I get bored, because I'm not entertained by flashy nonsense. I just wanna play the game and win.

That's why I'm able to enjoy Double Dragon. It has no frills—you can learn a couple flashy techniques here and there, sure, but for the most part, all of your moves have a separate purposes, utilities, and some are more effective vs. a certain type of enemy. Using your enemies' weapons against them is satisfying, as is using the environment to your advantage. None of these things are necessarily unique to this game, but it's the simplicity of it that I find appealing.

The game has a very sleek and cool tone to it—it's neat how every stage opens up with a sepia tone title card for every mission. Every level is very colorful and has gorgeous amounts of detail put into them. I don't think the music is quite up to par, though—some stages have fine music, but on others, it can actually sound pretty grating.

Naturally, there's a 2-player cooperative mode, and there's also a "Mode B" which I initially assumed was just another difficulty increase, but it's actually a whole new game mode altogether. It's a vs. mode where you select between six different fighters and face off with either an AI opponent or a second player, Street Fighter style. I highly doubt it's all that great, but the fact that they even thought to put such a mode in the game gives it a big boost.

I seriously can't wait to try this one on NSO.

Overall Rating:
4/5



#5. Super Mario Bros.
YouTube

I don't think I need to say a single word about this game, but just in case you were wondering: Yes, it's still good.

If you haven't played it, do so. It doesn't matter who you are or what you like.

Overall Rating:
4/5



#4. Balloon Fight
YouTube

All right, now we're getting into some really good-ass games. I don't really know what it is about this one—it's kinda weird, but it's SO much fun.

Originally released for the arcade in 1984, Balloon Fight is the best Joust ripoff I've ever played. You're a boy flying around with two balloons, and your goal (for the standard game) is to bash into other balloon fighters—preferably before they're able to inflate their own balloons. Once they start flying, they become a threat, and you'll have to pop their balloons before they pop yours. They only get one balloon to work with, but you have two. When one of yours is popped, you'll have to mash the "A" button even harder to stay afloat. Lose the second one, and you lose a life.

Once you pop their balloon, it's not quite over yet—they'll start floating down with a parachute, and if they manage to land safely, they'll start inflating another balloon. They'll change color, too, indicating that they've become more aggressive—just like in Mario Bros. In order to stop them from returning, you'll have to bump into them as their parachuting down to get rid of them permanently—or, if you're lucky, they'll wind up landing in the water, where they'll get eaten by a giant fish (which is your warning to steer clear of the water yourself).

Other hazards include flippers, which flip you all over the place at random if you make contact with them, and cumulonimbus clouds that generate lightning sparks that spell death if you touch them. These are kinda random and can be tricky to avoid if you're not super careful, but they all add depth and character to the overall experience. The screen also does that thing where if you fly all the way to the right, you'll end up on the left, and vice-versa. Skilled players will take advantage of this, and realize that the enemies can do the same. If you think an enemy is far away from you, because you're on the far left of the screen and he's on the far right, you're actually very close to each other.

Outside of the standard game, we also have Balloon Trip—a single player test of flying skill where your balloon fighter is sent across the ocean to dodge a barrage of lightning sparks. All you have to do is not die and see how far you can make it—touching a single spark will end the game. It's very addicting, and the music that plays is splendid.

Graphically, I always thought this game was pretty to look at in a vaguely surreal way. The night sky with the thunder clouds is the perfect back drop to the oddball nature of the gameplay. Honestly, the one thing the game needed overall was a 2-player versus mode. You can have a second player join in on the standard game, but it's meant to be entirely cooperative. If the game had a Vs. mode, this would've been an easy 5/5—it's easily one of the strongest of the arcade-style NES games, hence why it's ranked so high, and I'm sure it'll be a fucking blast to play on the Switch. Try not to miss this one.

Overall Rating:
4/5



#3. Gradius
YouTube

This is the only game on the list that I never played as a kid—I first tried it less than a year ago, thinking I wouldn't be into it, and wound up falling in love with it. This game fucking rocks.

Originally released in 1985, back when Konami was a good company, Gradius is the first game in its eponymous series—Life Force is another game you're probably at least familiar with from the same franchise, as it's generally considered to be the superior game (though not by me). It's a horizontal space shoot-'em-up that is satisfying to play as it is insanely difficult.


Even the poster is awesome, even though it looks pretty Star Wars-y.

The most intriguing thing about the game is probably the weapon upgrade system. Defeating a red-colored enemy, or just successfully destroying a small sequence of enemies, will drop a red power-up orb thing that essentially gives you one unit of upgrade. At this point, you can press the "B" button to spend your unit on whatever upgrade is currently highlighted on the bottom of the screen—the more to the right the upgrade is, the more units you'll need to collect before you can "purchase" it.

The upgrades are as follows:
1 unit: Speed Up. Allows the Vic Viper to move around faster.
2 units: Missile. Fires a missile that is shot towards the bottom of the screen to check low-flying enemies.
3 units: Double. Makes it so your second shot is angled upward. Undesirable, as it cannot be used with Laser.
4 units: Laser. Tears shit up.
5 units: Option. Spawns an orange ball thing that has all of the Viper's current abilities. Is awesome. Can have two.
6 units: Shield (labeled as "???" in-game). Basically makes you invincible for as long as they're up.

There are also blue orbs that appear every once in awhile, and nabbing this one will destroy all the enemies currently on-screen. I sure wish this one appeared more often.

The game is notoriously unforgiving—but unlike Ghosts 'n Goblins, it's not unfair about it. The enemies all follow distinct and clear patterns, and though it's not uncommon for a lot of bullets to be on the screen at once, it's easy to train yourself to fight as efficiently as possible to minimize your deaths—which will require a lot of patience, since you cannot take a single hit (without shields, which is the most expensive upgrade). It's about skill, not bullshit.

More rough than dying in one hit is the fact that you lose all your weapon upgrades upon respawning, too—so if you have two Options, a Missile, a Laser, and a fuckton of Speed Ups, the pressure is on. You pretty much have to play perfectly to make it far.

My least favorite aspect of the game is that there's no Machine Gun power-up, or anything that gives you the highest rate of fire without having to mash the fuck out of the "A" button. Because, yeah, this is unfortunately one of those shoot-'em-ups that, while it does allow for auto-fire if you hold the button down, the rate of fire isn't nearly high enough to handle the onslaught of shit coming your way—so you pretty much HAVE to mash if you want to survive. And that can get pretty tiresome. It's the main reason why I've never bothered to beat the game yet, because it's too hard on my thumbs after awhile.

Despite everything going against you, however, the game never feels oppressive to play. Perhaps it's the satisfying gameplay, the crisp and beautiful graphics, or the hopeful and uplifting music—but even though the game is basically putting you through several layers of hell, it feels like the most pleasant journey all throughout each attempt.

And can I just say again that this game was made in 1985? The same year as Super Mario Bros.? Play the footage of those two games back to back, and you will see just how far ahead of the game Konami was back then. They just had it figured out.

Please play this game on NSO. It fucking rules.

Overall rating:
5/5



#2. Super Mario Bros. 3
YouTube

Welcome to the best Mario game for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

This is another one of those games that I think has a reputation that precedes itself—everyone understands why this game is amazing, and if you don't, then you kinda just need to go out and play it. No amount of explanation from me will perfectly encapsulate everything you need to know about it, and I wouldn't want to spoil that for you anyway.

In a nutshell, I suppose, Mario 3 pretty much set the gold standard for how modern Mario games are played today. Many of the conventions you see now all started here—a map design that plays and feels like a board game, amazing, memorable, and iconic level design, beautifully constructed worlds that have their own cute little themes, perfect controls, physics, and overall game mechanics, awesome power-ups, cool enemies with lots of variety, great music, great atmosphere, fuckloads of content and shit to do, bonus rounds, hidden secrets that feel rewarding to find, and even a little bit of strategy going on with the item-carrying system—it is, in many people's eyes, the ultimate Mario game.

The 2-player game is pretty sweet, too, as it allows both players to more or less compete with one another as they try to see who can progress the farthest—and if you select the start tile in a 2-player game, you can play a competitive head-to-head version of the arcade Mario Bros. game where you compete for extra lives.

Ultimately, I still prefer Super Mario World. But 3 is pretty dope, too.

Overall rating:
5/5



#1. The Legend of Zelda
YouTube

You probably saw this one coming.

This game does things to my soul. It gives me a soul. I wouldn't go so far to say it's my favorite Zelda game, or anything—though it's definitely in my top 5—but regardless of ranking or any other nonsense, this game is very special to me, and I don't give a single fuck how "dated" anyone thinks it is.

Can it be a little cryptic sometimes? Okay, maybe more than a little. But that's the beauty of it. This game was designed as the yang to the yin of Super Mario Bros.—a game that is designed to be linear, intuitive, and straightforward. Zelda, by stark contrast, doesn't tell you anywhere to go, because it's your adventure, and there are no right answers.

That's all I think needs to be said about it for now. If you haven't played it before, now (as in the 18th, when the NSO service comes out) is as good a time as ever. It may not be the best NES game of all time, but it is, in my view, the best game currently available for the service, and I'd love for everyone to give it a shot.

Overall rating:
5/5



And that's just about all of them—with the exception of two: Yoshi (1991) and River City Ransom (1989), the only two launch titles for the service that I haven't played yet. When the service drops, I'll definitely update the thread later with reviews for both.

The average score at the moment is about 3.7/5—definitely not bad, but could be MUCH better. I personally would like to see the score rise above 4.0, and then we'll know it's a premium library. We also need a couple of classics that are conspicuously absent. Give us some Castlevania, Metroid, and Kirby's Adventure—or you could take the obscure route and give us Trojan or Crystalis. That would be sick as fuck.

Still, we have a decent variety to start with. I think it's safe to say there's probably at least one game for everyone.

TL;DR - (years below are based on the NES release, not the original Famicom/arcade release)

26. Soccer (1985) - 2/5 [-6]
25. Baseball (1985) - 2/5 [-6]

24. Tennis (1985) - 3/5 [-6]
23. Yoshi (1992) - 3/5 [-6]
22. Donkey Kong (1986) - 3/5 [-7]
21. Ice Climber (1985) - 3/5 [-7]
20. Mario Bros. (1986) - 3/5 [-4]
19. Mighty Bomb Jack (1987) - 3/5
18. Excitebike (1985) - 3/5 [-5]
17. TwinBee (1986) - 3/5
16. Super Dodge Ball (1989) - 3/5

15. Ghosts'n Goblins (1986) - 4/5 [-5]
14. Double Dragon (1988) - 4/5 [-5]
13. Ice Hockey (1988) - 4/5 [-1]
12. Tecmo Bowl (1989) - 4/5 [-1]
11. NES Open Tournament Golf (1991) - 4/5
10. Pro Wrestling (1987) - 4/5 [-2]
9. Solomon's Key (1987) - 4/5
8. Dr. Mario (1990) - 4/5 [-1]
7. Super Mario Bros. (1985) - 4/5 [-1]
6. Balloon Fight (1986) - 4/5 [-1]
5. River City Ransom (1990) - 4/5 [-1]

4. Gradius (1986) - 5/5 [-1]
3. Metroid (1987) - 5/5
2. Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990) - 5/5
1. The Legend of Zelda (1987) - 5/5
Last Edit: November 27, 2018, 09:33:39 AM by Verbatim


 
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didn't bother to proofread any of that shit, sorry if it's a mess to read


 
Jono
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Goodness gracious, great balls of lightning!
Tecmo Bowl to this day is still the best football game.

Also I played Balloon Fight last night. That game is still fun as shit.


 
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challengerX
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I DONT GIVE A SINGLE -blam!- MOTHER -blam!-ER ITS A MOTHER -blam!-ING FORUM, OH WOW, YOU HAVE THE WORD NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, HOW MOTHER -blam!-ING COOL, NOT, YOUR ARE NOTHING TO ME BUT A BRAINWASHED PIECE OF SHIT BLOGGER, PEOPLE ONLY LIKE YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, SO PLEASE PUNCH YOURAELF IN THE FACE AND STAB YOUR EYE BECAUSE YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A PIECE OF SHIT OF SOCIETY
Seems lame, charging people for old ass games and hardware because it has “classic” status.


 
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Seems lame, charging people for old ass games and hardware because it has “classic” status.
but online multiplayer balloon fight

you can even spectate your friend's game, and you can "pass" the controller to each other over the internet

they're also completed games that don't have DLC, and you get access to all of them
Last Edit: September 17, 2018, 04:51:31 PM by Verbatim


 
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yeah it could be better though


 
challengerX
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I DONT GIVE A SINGLE -blam!- MOTHER -blam!-ER ITS A MOTHER -blam!-ING FORUM, OH WOW, YOU HAVE THE WORD NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, HOW MOTHER -blam!-ING COOL, NOT, YOUR ARE NOTHING TO ME BUT A BRAINWASHED PIECE OF SHIT BLOGGER, PEOPLE ONLY LIKE YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, SO PLEASE PUNCH YOURAELF IN THE FACE AND STAB YOUR EYE BECAUSE YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A PIECE OF SHIT OF SOCIETY
Seems lame, charging people for old ass games and hardware because it has “classic” status.
but online multiplayer balloon fight

you can even spectate your friend's game, and you can "pass" the controller to each other over the internet

they're also completed games that don't have DLC, and you get access to all of them
Nintendo has cool stuff but going this asshole Microsoft route is very lame.

Also these games can be played for free on an emulator 😉


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You just said the E word in Verb's thread. Are you trying to get us all killed?


 
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It should be up now—long live getting to play games online for free.

If you can manage to find up to 8 family members or friends, you can set up a "family plan" to split the yearly payment amongst yourselves, potentially lowering the fee to about $5 a year. Luckily, I know at least four other people with Switches who are willing to do this.


 
Hahahaha very funny Zonda
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RIP ENDIE
I heard River City Ransom is pretty fun


 
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as it turns out, joycons are absolutely godawful for NES games

or at least smb1

i can't even beat it—that's how uncomfortable the buttons are for me

edit:


there we go, one down
Last Edit: September 19, 2018, 01:54:29 AM by Verbatim


 
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Gradius feels MUCH better with the B+A scheme, as well as any game, I'd assume, that doesn't involve holding down one button while pressing the other, unlike Mario. Still can't even beat the third level, though.

Here's a cool thing—if you have an account on your Switch that's set to Japanese, you can download the original Famicom versions of the NES games we have so far. The only reason you'd want to do this is because some of the games have minor differences.

Zelda 1 was originally released for the Famicom Disk System, which had a more advanced soundchip, allowing for more fleshed out music and sound effects—I still prefer how the NES version sounds, but maybe only due to familiarity.

In Japanese Mario 3, getting hit by an enemy as Fire Mario or something will downgrade you all the way down to small Mario—similar to how it works in Mario 1. The American version is less punishing, allowing you to continue as Super Mario after getting hit with a further upgrade.

In Ice Climber, as I went over in my review, you club seals instead of little yetis.

I'm sure there's even more I'm not aware of.
Last Edit: September 19, 2018, 08:22:07 PM by Verbatim


 
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All right, so I got around to trying the two games I haven't played before.




Okay, technically speaking, I have played this one—it was just so long ago, and for such a short period of time, that I had absolutely no recollection of it until I revisited it here.

Originally released in 1991, Yoshi (also known as Mario & Yoshi in PAL regions) is a Tetris-like puzzle game developed by Game Freak—yeah, that Game Freak—almost five years before they went on to make Pokémon.

If you're anything like me, and the premise of a Mario-themed puzzle game completely bores you, then you can safely skip this one. When I first tried it as a kid, judging by the title alone, I was expecting it to be a cool platformer like Yoshi's Island—a game I was hot off the heels of beating for the first time, and deciding it was one of the best games ever. So you could imagine my disappointment when I discovered it was just a lame puzzle game.

Trying it again as an adult, my impression of the game has only slightly improved—it's a decent enough game, but it still feels incredibly half-assed, and is overall inferior to the other puzzle game featured on the service, Dr. Mario. Yoshi himself isn't even the focal point—how disappointing is that?

The way the game works involves Mario trying to hatch as many Yoshi eggs as he can by stacking up a variety of enemies between two pairs of columns. If two of the same enemy get stacked together, they disappear. Mario can move from side to side to hold a different pair of columns, or switch the two that he's holding by pressing the "A" button. If a Blooper is about to come down, it's best to find a column that already has a Blooper on it to make them match.

Naturally, a stack of mismatched enemies will threaten to end the game if it gets too high, but you can also use Yoshi eggs to help make things easier for you. Two halves of a Yoshi egg—an upper half or a lower half—will occasionally fall instead of an enemy. Upper halves will always disappear right away if they don't have a lower half to accompany it, and lower halves will only disappear if a second one is stacked directly on top of it. Once the two halves meet, a Yoshi will pop out, awarding bonus points—but the coolest thing about that is that all the enemies between the two halves will be gobbled up, as well, making them useful for those tense situations where you're about to lose.

That's pretty much the whole game, though. It plays fine, but it has a childlike simplicity to it that puts a bad taste in my mouth. You're basically matching shapes, like you're back in kindergarten—which is fine. Kindergartners can have video games made for them, too. But that doesn't mean it has to be so slow and dull. Even the three music tracks it provides are very bland and boring—the Star track is probably the best one, but they all lack that distinctive Mario atmosphere and feel. They put me to sleep.

The game does have a 2-player vs. mode—standard fare for a game like this, though it's still nice to have the option—but overall, this game is just very meh, and not one that I'd recommend. If I had to rank it, I'd place it just above Baseball and just below Tennis—making it the lowest ranked 3/5 game on my list.

Try not to confuse this game with Yoshi's Cookie, a different Yoshi-themed puzzle game (and a far superior one, at that) made a year later by Bullet-Proof Software. That game isn't available on the service at the moment, but I would definitely recommend that game instead if you're interested.

Overall rating:
3/5




Described on Wikipedia as an "open world action role-playing beat 'em-up" game—a humorous yet completely accurate description—River City Ransom (known as Street Gangs in PAL) was developed by Technōs Japan in 1989, and is actually considered the third game in the long-running Kunio-kun franchise—albeit a heavily Americanized version of it. The series seems to be all about gangs, greasers, and high school-age boys trying to survive their rough-and-tumble street life while saving their girlfriends from hoodlums and shit. It's very '80s and very macho, but not in an off-putting way.

The first game, Renegade (1986), is one of the earliest pioneers of the beat 'em up genre, which games like Double Dragon would later expand upon. The second game is Super Dodge Ball (1987), a bit of a departure, while the third, River City Ransom]/i], is something of a return to form. Honestly, I'm a little upset that this one slipped past my childhood, because it turns out that this game is actually pretty fucking awesome.

Let's break down that crazy genre description. At its core, it's a beat 'em up—and as such, it's going to be nearly impossible for me not to draw comparisons to the previously discussed Double Dragon. The combat is very similar, but a little more cartoonish (as is the overall graphical presentation). The biggest two things that set it apart are its RPG elements and its open world. The setting of River City is a sandbox, and you can enter and revisit locations at will—there are forks in the road, and if the thugs on the street are beating you up too much, you can always head back to a safer location to regroup. Weapons obtained, like chains, lead pipes, or brass knuckles, can also be kept indefinitely.

Your character—either Alex or Ryan—has an extensive list of stats (like speed, punch strength, and what have you) that can be boosted throughout the game by visiting restaurants—all of which sell different things for different purposes. There are fast-food joints, mom & pops, sushi parlors, and book stores from which you can learn new fighting skills. Some of the food places also serve as takeout, so whatever items you order remain in your inventory of items for later consumption, which I thought was pretty novel. Items from shops are purchased with money taken from street thugs, and certain valuable items are very expensive, so you will have to do some grinding in this game if you want the strongest character.


Not everything in the game costs money, though—in some shops, you can ask the waitress to smile, which is "free."
That's the most adorable thing I've ever seen in a game of this genre.

Characters in the game are very expressive in general, giving it a pleasant Dragon Ball-ish atmosphere that comes across as rambunctious and boyish, but also happy and cheerful—even if the plot does revolve around rescuing hostage high schoolers from a terroristic gang leader. The game's sheer levity is infectious, and the plot seems to have a little bit more to offer than I initially thought, so I'll be coming back to this one very frequently.

The game is also one of the few on the service to feature simultaneous multiplayer, where both player 1 and player 2 can work together on the same screen. Both players will control a separate character who has their own money, stats, and inventory—but they have to be careful, because they can injure each other, which can lead to some friendship-testing moments if you're not willing to cooperate with each other. This must have been one of the last games to feature a password system, too—because both players can input a 33 character password (featuring both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and a comma) to save their shit, which is pretty insane—but it's all made unnecessary with the Switch service's suspend point feature anyway.

The controls, compared to Double Dragon, feel overall much smoother and more satisfying, but they're not always perfect. There are some light platforming segments in the game, where you'll enter a warehouse with a boss inside of it, and in order to reach him, you'll have to climb over these crates in the background—but they're so tightly snug together that it makes it pretty difficult to jump on them without bouncing off and having to start over. On top of that, jumping is done by hitting "A" and "B" at the same time, which is pretty awkward when you have to angle it just right.

You can also dash to run a lot faster by double-rapping left or right on the D-pad, but you lose some control—so you have to know to stop before you run into a solid object, because running into solid objects will not only stun you, it'll drain a little bit of your stamina as well. I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally killed myself by running into something I didn't meant to run into. It's an annoying punishment, especially when the game's "camera" never has your character in the center. He's always on the near right edge of the screen, making it extremely difficult to see what's coming ahead of you.

The game also suffers from the same classic issue that most other beat 'em ups suffer from—it kinda just gets boring after a short period of time. The music is only okay, and the repetitive and grindy-nature of the gameplay itself does get monotonous and won't be everyone's cup of tea—but the game has so much going for it, that I'm actually willing to take this one all the way to the end.

I was not expecting to enjoy this one as much as I did, and I'm very excited to rank it up just above Super Mario Bros. and just below Balloon Fight. I almost wanna put it above Balloon Fight, too, but I think that game is mechanically tighter, whereas River City Ransom is a little more rough around the edges, and not always in the best of ways—but it's still a very solid title that you should definitely give a try.

Overall rating:
4/5



All right, and it seems we already know what games we're going to be receiving for the rest of the year on this service. That's... honestly no fun, but whatever. I can briefly mention them here and I'll review each when they actually come out.

For October, we're getting the following:

Solomon's Key (1986), a unique, clever, and highly underrated puzzle game by Tecmo
NES Open Tournament Golf (1991), which isn't all that exciting, if I'm completely honest
Super Dodge Ball (1988), which I just talked about earlier, interestingly enough

For November:

The legendary Metroid (1986)
Tecmo's Mighty Bomb Jack (1986), a weird but kinda mediocre platformer
A previously Famicom-exclusive game called TwinBee (1986), which I don't know shit about

For December:

Wario's Woods (1994), a decent puzzle game and the last licensed NES game ever produced
The infamous Ninja Gaiden—because they seem to be going hard on the old-school Tecmo shit
Adventures of Lolo (1989), another weird puzzle game, featuring that one Kirby boss that's older than Kirby itself

Of these games, I'm actually mostly intrigued with TwinBee, because this is a game that was previously unavailable outside of Japan—at least, for the original hardware. I think it's available on 3DS with some enhancements, but as far as the original game, it was never localized. I find this exciting for many reasons—the potential for Nintendo to release some previously region-exclusive games that have been hidden from Western audiences for over three decades has me absolutely pumped. This could lead to us getting a localized version of the original Fire Emblem game, for example—how cool is that? Hopefully these opportunities aren't squandered.
Last Edit: September 23, 2018, 01:56:08 PM by Verbatim


 
Verbatim
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Cloud saves will now last for 6 months if your subscription ends (before, it would just go poof). That's a relief.

Now, if only they'd make it available for all games...


Dietrich Six | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
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Excuse me, I'm full of dog poison
Imagine having to maintain a monthly fee to have you saves backed up.


 
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Imagine having to maintain a monthly fee to have you saves backed up.
Yearly if you're smart, since it's only $20. Or have a family plan set up like me. I'm only paying $6.80 a year.


Dietrich Six | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
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Excuse me, I'm full of dog poison
Imagine having to maintain a monthly fee to have you saves backed up.
Yearly if you're smart, since it's only $20. Or have a family plan set up like me. I'm only paying $6.80 a year.

Imagine.


 
challengerX
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I DONT GIVE A SINGLE -blam!- MOTHER -blam!-ER ITS A MOTHER -blam!-ING FORUM, OH WOW, YOU HAVE THE WORD NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, HOW MOTHER -blam!-ING COOL, NOT, YOUR ARE NOTHING TO ME BUT A BRAINWASHED PIECE OF SHIT BLOGGER, PEOPLE ONLY LIKE YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE NINJA BELOW YOUR NAME, SO PLEASE PUNCH YOURAELF IN THE FACE AND STAB YOUR EYE BECAUSE YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A PIECE OF SHIT OF SOCIETY
Imagine having to maintain a monthly fee to have you saves backed up.
Yearly if you're smart, since it's only $20. Or have a family plan set up like me. I'm only paying $6.80 a year.
how’s the wife and kids


Fedorekd | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
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I love you, son.
Imagine having to maintain a monthly fee to have you saves backed up.
Yearly if you're smart, since it's only $20. Or have a family plan set up like me. I'm only paying $6.80 a year.
how’s the wife and kids
pretty good thanks. and you?


 
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October's NES games just dropped today, so I'll be posting reviews for each very soon.

On top of the three promised games, we received a surprise fourth game—a "special edition" of The Legend of Zelda which gives you all the items in the game right at the start. Uh, all right then. I'm more interested in the concept itself, and I wonder where they'll go with it in the future.

I also finally beat Gradius the other day... with suspend points. Some day I'll be good enough at it to not need any at all.


 
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By the time I got around to writing up the October games, the November games snuck behind me.




Originally released in 1991, this is just one entry in a surprisingly large library of golf games for the NES. It all started in 1984 with a game simply titled Golf—notable for being one of the earliest games ever programmed by Satoru Iwata, as well as for being an insanely detailed and robust electronic golf game for its time. No, seriously. You would think a thirty year old golf game for the NES would be almost mind-numbingly basic, but you'd be surprised to discover how nuanced it actually is. Not only are there loads of different clubs to choose from, terrains to watch out for, and unique courses to play on, you also have to account for all these weird little variables like the wind to play the game well—which I think deserves a lot of credit.

Apparently, someone at Nintendo did, too. There was a short period of time when Switch users could actually download a free ROM onto their system when certain conditions were met, presumably as a tribute to the late Iwata. One of the requirements had to do with performing one of Iwata's iconic hand gestures with the Joycons, or something. It was a nice little tribute, and a cute Easter egg, but sadly, as of the latest firmware patch, it doesn't seem to work at all anymore. This could be because the second requirement involved setting the game's internal clock to the date of the man's death, which could be seen as... a little morbid, if not outright disrespectful, even if the intentions were good. Unfortunately for me, by the time I even learned of this secret, it had already been patched out. Shame.

Anyway, that was quite the diversion. Back to NES Open Tournament Golf, I suppose. I believe this was Nintendo's second golf game for the system, with Iwata at the programming helm once again—but this time, with over five years of game development experience and knowledge of just how far the NES can be pushed.

Gameplay-wise, I mean, it's fucking golf. What do you want? If you don't care about golf at all, then this isn't the game for you. I certainly don't give a shit about golf, but I do have a general appreciation for well-crafted games no matter what genre they happen to be in, and this is definitely what I would consider a well-crafted game.

Remember how I was saying the original Golf for NES was surprisingly nuanced and robust? Well, this game is basically the same in every way, just better. Prettier visuals, an actual soundtrack, seemingly better physics, more course variety, more satisfying gameplay, and more modes to choose from. Also, Mario actually looks like himself this time around. The number of variables you have to account for when making the perfect shot has only increased—this time, not only are you accounting for wind, terrain, and club type, but even the speed at which you hit the ball, how high or low you hit it, and even the exact point on the ball that you stroke it so you can account for how much it spins when it actually lands. If you suck and don't always have your ball on the fairway, you'll have to watch out for trees—if a tree is in your way, you're basically fucked, because your ball is going to bounce right off it.

Just like before, when aiming your shot, you get a nice bird's eye view of the entire course, which shifts to an over-the-shoulder perspective when stroking. The way all the elements on the map get displayed during these segments is pretty cool—if you're stroking just near a lake, for example, you'll be able to see just a part of it off in the distance while making your shot. I wonder how difficult that was to program at the time, considering that we're not dealing with 3D models or anything.

Naturally, the overhead view of the course zooms in when the ball reaches the green, but the coolest part comes around during the putting process. When putting, you get a nice shot of the ball rolling up into the hole, but from the hole's perspective, so you get to see a sprite of the ball getting closer and closer as it succeeds—or fails—to sink. It'll bounce off if it was struck too hard, or careen to the side if the contours of the hill weren't properly accounted for.

In terms of modes, there's actually quite a few things to choose from—single player stroke play, a standard solo golf game where you're just hitting bills into holes on your own in as few shots as possible. Single player match play is when you face off against an AI (either Luigi or a bunch of no-name generic losers) to see who can sink balls faster. Two human players can face off, as well, but there's also a tournament mode. You have to register for it, and it's essentially you versus every increasingly-difficult CPU opponent in the game. You only get to select between a limited number of clubs, so you'll have to master each one to suit your purposes, which is actually pretty interesting.

You could even save your progress—which isn't a big deal, considering that we have suspend points now—but for the time, having a save feature was a big deal. Not many games had it, and the ones that did were a blessing.

All in all, I'm not terribly into golf, but I definitely respect all the care and effort that went into this one. My score might seem surprising, but I'm just trying to be fair. I know it's not the sexiest game they could've added to the service, but I don't think that means it lacks any merit whatsoever.

Overall rating:
4/5




Originally released for arcades in 1986, Solomon's Key was developed by Tecmo and ported over to the NES in 1987.

This is honestly such an underrated little puzzle-platformer. It received little fanfare back in the day, even though I think it has a lot of clever ideas going for it. You play as a wizard called Dana who has the ability to conjure or destroy a block, with which he can use for a variety of purposes. The object of the game is to clear all the levels by finding the key that unlocks the door to the next screen, making your way through fifty of them.

Each room is a puzzle, most of which contain infinitely-spawning monsters that you have little in the way of fighting power against—certain pick-ups, such as blue potions, give you access to a fireball spell that will ricochet across the room and kill everything it touches, but these are a limited and precious resource that should only be used when absolutely necessary. Extreme caution and ingenuity should be used to avoid the enemies instead, as taking a single hit will result in loss of life (and you only get three to start with).

Every screen is, indeed, just one screen in size—so you'll always be able to see everything that's happening at all times. You can't idle for long, though, because you do have a limited time to make your way through each door. And if you're not careful, enemies can drop from below if there's a window above your head.

Pressing "A" will conjure up a block in front of you, but by stepping at the very edge of the tile you're standing on, you can create a block up to two spaces in front of you. Crouching and pressing "A" will conjure a block below you, assuming there's any room, and the same edge-of-the-tile trick can be performed this way as well. Pressing "A" near a block will dissipate it. If you have any fire spells, you can press "B" to activate them after aiming, but it's unlikely to bounce where you want it to without a little bit of practice. It's actually kinda hard to explain the rules behind how it works, but it's intuitive enough. In general, just face the thing you want to kill and press "B." The ricochet effect is important, but only for players of the highest IQ.

The block creation is the coolest thing about the game, really. There's no limit to how many blocks you can conjure up, and they can be used for lots of different things, like creating platforms, walkways, staircases, barricades, or even to trick certain enemies from walking on top of them—only for you to dissipate them from under their feet, causing them to fall to their deaths. Creative use of this tool is what gives the game its life, really. Oh, and certain enemies are strong enough to break the blocks you create, too, so it pays to be mindful of that.

Since this is a platformer, you can obviously jump. But since the game already assigned uses for both "A" and "B," that means this is one of those weird games that has you press UP on the d-pad to jump instead. Some may find this very awkward, but I'm fairly used to it. It's a wimpy little jump, too—enough to just barely go over a standard enemy and cross little gaps, but nothing too far. Fortunately, you are able to angle your trajectory to an extent, and it can even be used to break blocks up above you, like Mario (though, he needs to do it twice—the first time will just crumble them).

There are hidden secrets in each room—most of which are fairies, or hard-to-reach special tiles that will send you to a bonus stage if you manage to collect them. Fairies are often trapped in different ways and require you to try many different things in order to rescue them, like dissipating naturally-occurring blocks or killing certain enemies. Once at least ten fairies are rescued, you'll get an extra life, so they actually become pretty important for you to look for.

The music is pretty cool, and the animations are relatively fluid, making it overall the "smoothest" in terms of overall game feel out of the three October games, and definitely my favorite of those three.

Oh, and I have to talk about the game's scoring system. For a little while, when game developers thought people still cared about getting a "high score," Tecmo actually tried to be "different" with some of its games, implementing their own unique system for evaluating a player's aptitude for a select few of its earliest games. They called it "GDV" (Game Deviation Value), and to be honest with you, I don't have any fucking idea how it works. I read the game's original manual and everything—it doesn't explain shit. Just that it's a special system patented specifically to be unique and confusing. For Solomon's Key, I've never gotten a GDV higher than 56, so I guess that's pretty bad or something. I don't know, because there's no way to tell how it works. What an ingenious system.

Anyway, I just thought that was pretty funny. The game is still pretty good. Of the 26 games currently available for the service, I'd rank it in the top 10 for sure. The biggest problem, especially when compared to the best puzzle game available at the moment, Dr. Mario, is that the game's difficulty is too punishing for you not to have access to some kind of level selection. Dr. Mario lets you do that, as well as Ice Climber. In my opinion, this would've been the perfect game to have that feature, because there's fifty levels. Just about nobody is gonna want to play through fifty levels in one sitting, but because they don't have that contingency in place, you basically have to start all over from the first level if you restart the game or lose all your lives. That kinda sucks.

Oh well, I guess that's what suspend points are for.

Overall rating:
4/5




Originally released for the arcade in 1987, Super Dodge Ball is actually the second installment in the long-standing Kunio-kun franchise, following the beat-'em-up forerunner Renegade and preceding the previously-reviewed River City Ransom. However, despite being caught between two entries in a very particular genre, this is not a beat-'em-up game at all—it's a sports game, albeit one that flirts with a few beat-em-'up elements.

Just like other games in the franchise, the NES version of Super Dodge Ball was vastly altered during the localization process in order for it to suit its Western audience better. Just like in River City Ransom, you play as Sam—or at least, Sam's dodge ball team—and play against a number of international teams in a sequence to eventually become world champions.

Now, when I played dodge ball in middle school, the rules we went by were extremely different from the ones used in this game. For one thing, if you get hit by a ball just once, then that means you're out. If you manage to catch the ball before it hits you, then the person who threw it is out. These are the standard rules that I'm used to.

In this game, however, each of the three players in the inner court has a life bar, which varies from player to player. When a player gets hit, they lose a number of hit points depending on how hard the ball was thrown, or something—there's normal tosses, running tosses, jumping tosses, and running+jumping tosses. There's also special tosses, where the ball does crazy shit in midair depending on your timing, and these balls are not only hard to avoid, but do crazy amounts of damage. It's very cartoony, but even so, it may take a number of hits before all players on a team are down.

There are six players to a team—three of them in the inner court, three of them in the outer court. Only the players in the inner court have life bars, so those are the players that need to be knocked out. The outer court players are only there for support and putting extra pressure on your opponent, should you choose to pass the ball over to them (which is risky, of course, as this can invite your opponent to go for a pick).

Catching a ball that was thrown to you doesn't result in an out; it just gives you the ball, and you're given a very generous frame window to catch each and every ball that is thrown to you. It's so easy, it practically makes dodging pointless, because dodging a ball basically just gives your opponent's outer court players to get their hands on it. It's smarter to just catch it every time. This has a tendency to make each game pretty damn repetitive, making them feel like a somewhat more intense game of catch. Fortunately, the AI is too shitty to catch the ball every time you throw it at them, so beating the campaign on normal is a cinch if you know what you're doing. An actual game against a human player might be pretty miserable if you're both competent, however.

The graphics and overall pace of the game are somewhat shoddy. Because there's always at least six different characters moving on screen at once, this will often result in graphical flickering in the most irritating way, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it. The game struggles to process its own shit, which is never a great sign.

I think the game has a lot of personality and charm to it, though. The fact that the individual players on each team all use different names, faces, and even have unique stats to set them apart is definitely really cool, and landing special shots is extremely satisfying, even if the AI sucks. It's not like the game has nothing going for it. It's just a little too rough around the edges for me to consider it one of the greater games for the service.

Overall rating:
3/5




Originally released in 1986, Mighty Bomb Jack is a Tecmo platformer, and sequel to a 1984 arcade game I've never played, simply called Bomb Jack. You play as the eponymous Jack and make your way through 16 levels inside of a giant treasure-filled pyramid with randomly spawning enemies inside of it.

Far from being Tecmo's best, this is genuinely one of the most bland and milquetoast platformers I've ever played in my life. There's really not a whole lot else to it beyond what I described. Mechanically, besides simple running and jumping, you can rapidly press the "A" button while in midair to float around and slow your descent, which makes it an invaluable maneuver to avoid enemies with. Holding up while jumping lets you do a super jump, while holding down results in a lower jump. Oftentimes, Jack's high-ass jump will get him killed, since it's so fast and difficult to control while ascending, so the low jump comes in handy quite often. It's not quite low enough to always be useful, however.

Each shoddy and haphazardly-designed level will contain randomly spawning enemies without rhyme or reason. Sometimes, you'll be in the middle of a jump, only for an enemy to spawn right above you. And yes, this will result in a death, because in classic Nintendo fashion, there are punishing one-hit deaths in this game with—you guessed it—just three lives to work with.

The game is called Mighty Bomb Jack, but the bombs you find in each level don't seem to play a huge role in the gameplay. You'd think he'd have bomb-based attacks, or something—but no, you just collect them. As far as I know, they don't even explode. They're just there for you to collect, and once you've collected them all, you can proceed to the next level. The only way you can fight enemies, then, is by opening chests—most of which are opened by jumping after standing on top of them, which is weird enough, but some of them are locked. A key won't open them. Instead, you need to find a certain item that will cause Jack to change color, and if Jack's color corresponds to the chest, he'll be able to open it. Some of these chests will contain a power-up that changes all the enemies in the room into coins, which is Jack's only means of defense, as far as I've been able to figure out.

It's all just a bunch of stupid nonsense, really, and overall, it kinda sucks. The ONLY reason I don't give the game a negative score is because of one reason: the Torture Rooms.

This is actually a really stupid mechanic, but I personally find it hilarious. For all its flaws and eccentricities, the game manages to have a bit of a sense of humor that I appreciate. Most of the chests, when opened, will simply contain items and things that get you points. Most players shouldn't care about points unless they're used for accruing extra lives, but I'm one of those players that likes to impulsively collect everything in a room.

To my surprise, however, the game actually punishes you for doing this. If you collect too many coins, the game will stop to call you "greedy" and force and trap you into the Torture Room. This is basically an insane hell zone that forces you to avoid three slowly-moving enemies as a mysterious timer in the background counts down. The only way out is to avoid the enemies until the counter reaches 0, or die. At first, I thought it was a decelerated clock, but I recently discovered that it's actually counting jumps. So, you have to jump fifty straight times without dying in order to get out of this room. Once you do, you get to survive, but you lose all your coins. So, uh, don't be greedy, kids?

It's the stupidest thing in the world, but like I said, I find it incredibly amusing, which is enough for me to give it a middle-of-the-road score. Otherwise, this would've been an easy 2/10.

Overall rating:
3/5




Originally released for arcades in 1985, TwinBee is a vertically-scrolling Konami shmup that was ported to the Famicom in 1986. Curiously, the game was never actually ported to the NES, making the Nintendo Switch version the first time it's ever been officially playable outside of Japan. You may have been able to play a modern version of it on the 3DS, or something, but this is the first time the 8-bit Famicom game has been playable over here.

Unfortunately, that's the most interesting thing about it. In terms of gameplay, it's pretty basic and self-explanatory as far as shoot-'em-ups go. It just has a cutesy cartoon theme, whereas the vastly superior Gradius has a cool sci-fi theme and horizontal flying, which I've always preferred. It's decent, but it's not really doing too much for me.

The most exciting thing about having this game available on the service, however, is that it opens the door for other unreleased Famicom games to finally get their due localizations, each one about 30 years behind schedule. I wanna see the original Fire Emblem game, Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, to get a translation after all these years. That would be amazing.

Overall rating:
3/5




This is one of those games that should've been available on the service from day fucking one. It's a bit late, but it's very nice to finally have it now.

To this day, it's still one of the premiere titles for the NES, and everyone knows it. With immersive and satisfying gameplay and an incredible soundtrack, which takes full advantage of the system's limitations to create a deeply sinister and atmospheric sound that's unlike anything I've ever heard before. It seriously might just be the coolest and most unique soundtrack out of all NES games. The Alien-inspired story and darker tone helped make this game feel special when compared to other Nintendo flagships, and to this day, it's considered one of Nintendo's creepier and more mature franchises.

Oh, yeah, and the whole woah-Samus-is-a-girl thing was pretty groundbreaking at the time, too. We take it for granted today, but it's important to remember that female heroes weren't so common in games, and though Samus may not have been the first, she was definitely one of the earliest to star in a big epic game like this, even if her gender was kept a secret until you finally beat the game. I don't know if people at the time would've scoffed at the idea had they known Samus was female from the start, but the fact that it's treated as a "plot twist" of sorts brings home the idea that it doesn't actually matter what Samus is. Guy or girl, she still kicks ass, and that's what makes her so cool.

The game is pretty far from perfect, though. Playing it back once more has shown me its age in some dishearteningly unpleasant ways. For one thing, my favorite game of all time, Super Metroid, eclipses this game in absolutely every single way. That game has spoiled me to the point where my enjoyment of the original title is somewhat limited. For one thing, there is no quick and easy way to refill your energy tanks—they all have to be refilled manually by grinding enemies, and once you've collected more than two tanks, it can be a real pain trying to get them all filled back up again. That's my biggest issue by far. The other is having to learn important techniques, such as bomb jumping, but then making it extremely fucking difficult to do. It's been years and years, and I still have no fucking idea how to consistently bomb jump in this game. The rhythm is extremely erratic and makes no sense, making it rather tedious to perform.

Oh, and all the original game's passwords seem to have been overwritten, too. You used to be able to input a code called "JUSTIN BAILEY" to start a game where Samus wears a pink leotard instead of her power suit, on top of having most power-ups, but that code doesn't seem to work anymore. Nor do any of the others I can name from the top of my head, which is kind of a shame.

NEVER MIND, THEY STILL WORK FINE, I'M JUST STUPID


Most people only know this outfit from the password, but it can also be obtained legitimately by beating the game in less than two hours (or something like that).

Beyond these hang-ups, though, I wouldn't stop you at all from trying this one out. By all means, please check it out, it's an all-time classic—just know that Super Metroid is, more or less, everything this game is... but so, so much more. At the very least, play the original title out of respect. It's a pretty good time.

Overall rating:
5/5


Last Edit: November 28, 2018, 05:27:41 PM by Verbatim


Chaos Metal Dragon | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
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Oh, and all the original game's passwords seem to have been overwritten, too. You used to be able to input a code called "JUSTIN BAILEY" to start a game where Samus wears a pink leotard instead of her power suit, on top of having most power-ups, but that code doesn't seem to work anymore. Nor do any of the others I can name from the top of my head, which is kind of a shame.

Seriously?  NARPASSWORD Too?
Did you remember to fill the thing up with 0s or dashes afterward?


 
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Seriously?  NARPASSWORD Too?
Did you remember to fill the thing up with 0s or dashes afterward?
i'll have to try that one later, but apparently, ENGAGE RIDLEY MOTHER FUCKER still crashes the game
Last Edit: November 27, 2018, 03:32:00 PM by Verbatim


 
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Seriously?  NARPASSWORD Too?
Did you remember to fill the thing up with 0s or dashes afterward?
OKAY, never mind, they all work fine, i'm just a fucking moron

when i did justin bailey, i thought i had to put in 0s, not dashes (that means narpas sword works too, on top of everything else)

MY BAD, i'll just strike out that paragraph or something
Last Edit: November 27, 2018, 06:13:41 PM by Verbatim


 
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Oh shit, I forgot to talk about the "special edition" games.

I mentioned this before, but it seems that, on top of the three NES games that NSO members receive every month (which is still a laughably piddly amount that is borderline insulting), we actually do receive a fourth game as a little bonus of sorts.

For October, the fourth game was a "special edition" of The Legend of Zelda.
For November, the fourth game was a special edition of Gradius.

I wasn't sure at first, but the trend seems to be that we'll be receiving a "special" edition (abbreviated "SP") of a select game that had already been available to play on the service, which is why it's just a bonus. Thankfully, however, the games chosen seem to be the best ones available (I've given both of those titles a 5/5, should that mean anything).

What's different about them?

Well, not a whole lot, to be blunt. The SP version of Zelda is advertised as a "souped up" version of the classic and subtitled with the phrase, "Living the life of luxury!" It starts you out smack on the first screen of the game—there's not even a title screen—with maximum Rupees, Keys, and Bombs. The Blue Ring is also visibly equipped, as well as the Power Bracelet, Blue Candle, Arrows, Bait, and a Red Potion. Essentially, half of the game's exploration has been done for you in this version.

To me, this is kinda fucking stupid, and pretty much defeats the whole point of playing the original Zelda game, but I guess I can kinda see this being cool if you just hate exploration and want to feel powerful without having to earn it—which is pretty counter to everything that makes the game great, in my opinion. As a result, I have no use for this edition whatsoever, and I wouldn't recommend wasting your time with it. Just play the original. There's nothing "special" about this special edition.

The way the edition is presented is pretty amateurish and ghetto, too. I already mentioned how the game doesn't even give you a title screen to admire, but that's not the only strange thing going on here. When you start up the game, if you pay attention to the bottom of the screen and perk up your ears a little bit, you can see—and hear—the particle effect of Link's sword beam. Do you know what that means? They didn't even upload a unique application for the game. What they've essentially done is give us is some random person's suspend point of his or her own pre-made file, and then call it a "special edition."

You can make of that what you will, but I'm sorry—to me, that is the laziest and most ghetto bum-ass shit I've ever seen.

The Gradius SP isn't a whole lot better. It's subtitled with "Stage 5 and maxed out!" and that pretty much tells you the whole story. It brings you to one of the latter stages (there's only seven in the game) and grants you every upgrade, shy a few Speed Ups, and preferring Laser over Double. Again, no title screen. Same situation as before. In essence, you're skipping over half the game (and therefore, half the challenge and the fun) to have a quick and easy little power trip mode type of thing. Once again, I find this fucking stupid and pointless. Gradius it a tough game, sure, but who's gonna get any satisfaction out of having the first four levels (which is already over half) beaten for them? I just don't get it. Even if you suck complete ass at the game, it's not like the Konami Code doesn't already grant you most of the power-ups anyway—but even that code gives you the courtesy of getting to play through the other stages.

These so-called "special editions" were probably just tacked on as a means of taking the heat off of their service. They know that no one is happy with the service, so, I guess, in order to make things just a little less shitty, they give us one extra thing for the NES library, advertising it as this cool new SPECIAL thing—but, of course, putting no actual effort into making it truly special, because it doesn't cost them anything to have some random fuck play a game up to a certain point, save the file, and pack it in while pretending it's some sparkly new edition, or something that is worthy of being piled up with the rest of the service's (gradually) growing library.

It's kind of a joke—and it's sad, because I think this idea actually has some potential to be at least somewhat cool. If they were to actually alter aspects of these classic games by making them more challenging, or find some way to make them feel like a brand new experience for their loving veterans, it could've been super cool, or at least... interesting. Providing Nintendo vets—who are, being perfectly honest, the only people who are still playing these NES games in 2018—with a fucking EASY MODE for games that they've already played to death is just about the lamest possible thing they could've done, and until they start getting more creative with how they do these things, I will continue to be disappointed with them.

lame/5

(I don't do meme scores like this very often, but I honestly cannot dignify these SP editions with a serious rating.)

That being said, please play The Legend of Zelda or Gradius if you haven't before and are interested in trying out some ancient-ass games. My poor reception of the so-called "special" versions notwithstanding, the original games still play very well to this day, and are easily two of the better games available on the service.

I mean, if you're an NSO member, you're paying for it anyway, so you might as well just give them a shot. Just avoid these lame-ass SP editions like the plague, and you will be just fine.
Last Edit: November 28, 2018, 03:09:33 PM by Verbatim


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Not directly related to this thread, but I think you'll find this cool. There was an interview with a Super Metroid programer from 2007 that dropped online today.

http://shmuplations.com/yasuhikofujii/

One cool thing that we just learned is that there is a bit of a hidden easter egg in the Draygon fight where the mini Draygon's spell out a shout out to the Dev's girlfriend.
Last Edit: November 30, 2018, 04:52:37 PM by Chaos Metal Dragon


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