Archive for July 2014

M.U.S.C.L.E – NES   Leave a comment

NESMUSCLEI almost didn’t know what to call this game. The cartridge artwork reads “Tag Team Match M.U.S.C.L.E”, and Wikipedia says the same thing. However the end label on the cartridge, and the title screen merely call it “M.U.S.C.L.E.” I’m going with the latter name, and I’m going to drop all of the periods, because I’m already annoyed with typing them. Muscle is a 1986 game released for the NES by Bandai, and stars characters of the Muscle line of toys in a tag team wrestling game. I once called Pro Wrestling for the Sega Master System the worst wrestling game I had ever played, but Muscle gives it a run for it’s money.

You start the game by picking two wrestlers from the eight available for your tag team. Your only option is for a tag team match. Just like how simplistic the Muscle action figures look, the game play is equally as simplistic. One button makes your wrestler jump, the other makes him attack. Your move set is as follows, punch, back body drop, irish whip, drop kick, clothesline (I think), a dive off the ropes, and one special move. Your special move is activated by collecting a power ball thrown into the ring by a manager character of sorts who is lurking on the outside of the ring. Once you collect the power ball your wrestler moves extremely fast, and you’re allowed to unleash a devastating special move. To win the match you merely have to deplete your enemy’s energy bar. Later matches let you play in a ring made of ice, and a ring with electrified ropes!  More wrestling games need electrified ropes!

The lack of moves make this game incredibly dull to play. You’ll just be trading weak moves with your opponent while you’re waiting for the power ball to appear. The CPU opponent is way too easy, and that just makes the game even more boring. You might, and I mean you might have a tiny bit of fun playing against a human opponent. The game is easy to learn, so your friend will be decent competition in no time. More than likely though you’ll just have someone to laugh at the hideous graphics with. The wrestlers are drawn with no more than three colours, and there is practically no detail to them. The sound is just as dull as the rest of the game too. The only reason to recommend this game is if you get it in a bulk lot of games, or maybe you see it for sale for a dollar. Then maybe you can share a couple of laughs with a friend.

Rating – 3 / 10


Posted July 29, 2014 by thebandit2006 in NES

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Centipede – Atari 7800   Leave a comment

7800CentipedeThe Atari 7800 was released during the third generation of consoles along with the Nintendo Entertainment System, and Sega Master System.  I’m not sure if Atari ever meant for the Atari 7800 to directly compete against the NES, but either way the NES enjoyed many more game releases.  Most of the Atari 7800 releases were early 1980’s arcade games.  At the time most people were ready to move on to the new and exciting NES releases such as Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Castlevania, Mega Man, and so on.  As a result not many people bought the Atari 7800.  I was one of those people who did not have an Atari 7800, but many years later I bought one, and I can see now that the console does have a place in the video game world.  Some of those arcade classics released to the Atari  7800 were spectacular.  One instance of this is Atari’s own Centipede.  Originally released back in the arcades in 1980, the 1987 release on the Atari 7800 I believe is the definitive home version of the game.

Centipede is a shoot-em-up in the style of Space Invaders.  You control your… gardener?  What exactly ARE you in this game anyway?  Well whatever you are, your goal is to blast away the centipede that is descending from the top of the screen.  There are several segments to the centipede, and you have to destroy them all to complete the stage.  If you shoot the centipede in the middle, the two smaller halves will move independently.  Shooting those halves will dissect the centipede into yet smaller pieces.  What you want to do is shoot the centipede in the head, and hopefully the rest of it’s body will be in the line of fire for your next shot.  In your garden are mushrooms that the centipede will snake around.  Each time you shoot a segment of the centipede, a mushroom will appear in it’s place.  Too many mushrooms make for a crowded screen, so you’ll want to get rid of some of them, and you can do so by shooting them three times.  If you shoot too many mushrooms, a flea will drop from the top of the screen, and place more mushrooms to get in your way.  A scorpion will also sometimes appear, and they will poison each mushroom that it touches.  If a segment of the centipede touches a poisonous mushroom, the centipede will make a b-line right to the bottom of the screen, and that is something that you don’t want.  Adding to the chaos is that damn spider.  The spider moves erratically from one side to the other mostly on the bottom portion of the screen.  You can shoot the spider for points, and you’ll earn big points the closer you are to the spider before you shoot it.

Originally the game was played with a trackball in the arcades.  I don’t think I’ve ever used the trackball to play this game, but this Atari 7800 version controls excellently.  In fact I find it controls better than the Xbox Live version.  This reason for this I believe is that the Xbox Live version is a straight up port from the arcade while the Atari 7800 is customized for using a controller.  The graphics and sounds of the Atari 7800 version are great, and everything moves very smoothly.  Atari also added in four difficulty levels, and two player simultaneous co-op and competitive modes.  The only thing that could have made this game better is if it was it’s improved sequel Millipede.  Centipede though is a classic, and if you want to play it at home, this is the version I recommend.

Rating – 8 / 10


Posted July 25, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Atari 7800

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City Connection – NES   Leave a comment

NESCityConnectionCity Connection is a very strange game that I rented for my NES as a kid, but absolutely hated at the time.  I don’t know if it was the pastel colours, difficult game play, or the fact that I was expecting an actual driving game, but I just couldn’t get into it.  Years later as an adult I now appreciate it’s addictive arcade fun.  Apparently it was first released in the arcades in 1985 by Jaleco, but I’ve never seen the arcade machine.  It was ported over to the NES by Jaleco in 1988.

The object of City Connection is to drive around different cities from all over the world, and paint every square inch of every road.  Why would anyone want to do this I don’t know, but we never asked questions about this back then, we just played the game.  Your view is from a side perspective, and the game plays more like a platformer than a driving game.  You’re able to make your car jump over enemies, or perform a super jump in order to reach higher platforms.  This is essential as the roads are not your regular roads as some of them are suspended in mid-air.  Your enemies consist of the police, who obviously don’t take a liking to you dumping paint all over their roads.  One crash with the police, and you’ll lose a life.  You can outsmart the police by throwing cans of oil their way.  This causes them to lose control of their cars, at which point you can take them out by ramming into them.  You can make multiple cop cars spin out for bonus points.  The other enemy out to get you is that damn cat.  The cat shows up when you least expect it, and like the cop cars it will cause you to crash.  Unlike the cop cars though, the cat is invincible.  Again, we never questioned games from the 80’s.  Once you paint all the roads in a given city, you are wisked away to the next city.  I’m not sure how long the game goes on for, because like most arcade games from the 80’s it’s pretty hard.  In one of the later levels the cop cars also have the ability to jump, which makes trying to jump over them very risky.

The graphics are average in City Connection, but it’s always fun when you make it to a new city to see the new backgrounds, and the new cop car designs.  The music is catchy enough, and it changes as you advance through to new stages.  The controls are responsive, but it will take you a bit of time to get used to the physics, as you are controlling a car, and not Super Mario.  City Connection has all the makings of a classic arcade game.  The games are short, challenging, addictive, and it’s a lot of fun trying to rack up a high score.  It’s not quite up there with the absolute greatest arcade classics, but it’s certainly underrated, and a worthy pickup if you like old arcade action.

Rating – 7 / 10


Posted July 23, 2014 by thebandit2006 in NES

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Art of Fighting – Super Nintendo   Leave a comment

SNESArtofFightingSNK’s legendary King of Fighters series actually contains fighters from numerous other SNK fighting games.  Fatal Fury was SNK’s first one-on-one fighting game, and Art of Fighting released for their Neo Geo in 1992 was their second.  Art of Fighting was ported over to the Super Nintendo in 1993, and I was pretty excited when I found a copy.  I knew that it wasn’t going to be quite as polished, or sophisticated as the more modern King of Fighters games, but I expected better than this.

Art of Fighting is similar in style as the Street Fighter series.  In the story mode you choose from two fighters, and you fight your way through your opponents in search of your kidnapped sister.  If you want to choose from the other eight fighters then you’ll have to choose either the practice mode, or the two player mode.  Not having a regular non-story arcade mode in which you choose from any fighter is a serious omission.  As far as game play itself, Art of Fighting uses a four button control scheme.  One button kicks, another punches, another button is for a strong attack, and the fourth button is for taunting your opponent.  For the first time that I’ve seen in a fighting game, taunting your opponent actually has a use, because it will take away from their “spirit” gauge.  That spirit gauge allows you to do special attacks such as throwing projectiles, or doing a multi-hit combo.

Besides the lack of choice of fighters, the problem with Art of Fighting for me is that it’s just nothing special.  The pace is a bit too slow, the controls are a bit too sluggish, and the characters aren’t very interesting.  It’s all kind of bland.  The fighters are a large size, and detailed enough, but the colours look off.  The music isn’t anything special either.  Overall Art of Fighting is not a bad game.  It’s just an alright game, and it’s an okay pick up if you have a friend to play against.  With other great fighting games on the Super Nintendo such as the Mortal Kombat series, Street Fighter 2, and Killer Instinct, you can now see how this game doesn’t stand out.

Rating – 6 / 10


Posted July 16, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Super NES

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Golden Axe – Sega Genesis   1 comment

GENSGoldenAxe Up until 1989 video game consoles such as the Atari 2600, and the NES were never really capable of playing games that looked and sounded similar to the newest arcade games.  That changed with the release of the Sega Genesis.  The games released for that system came closer to giving you the arcade experience than ever before.  Golden Axe is a 1989 arcade game by Sega that was ported to their Sega Genesis the same year, and it pretty much captures the arcade looks, sounds, and game play.  It’s not a perfect port, but it’s really impressive.

Golden Axe is a beat-em-up game similar to Double Dragon except your character mostly swings a weapon instead of relying on martial arts moves.  It’s set in a fictional medieval Dungeons and Dragons type of world, and it’s your goal to track down the evil Death Adder who has captured the King and his daughter.  The three characters you get to choose from at the start of the game are a dwarf, male warrior, and female warrior.  Each has their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to combat and magic.  The controls are simple enough with one button for attacking, one for jumping, and one for using magic.  You collect magic by kicking around these humanoid creatures that are even smaller than your dwarf character, and I always get enjoyment in doing so.  The more magic you collect the more powerful your next magic spell will be.  After you use a spell, you will have to recollect magic potions once again.  The magic spells are great in a pinch as they cause damage to all enemies on screen, and the spells all look great.  You may want to save your magic for the end of the stage as the game often has multiple difficult enemies on screen at once.  Some enemies attack you by riding animals, but you can knock them off their rides and steal them.  The animals all have strong attacks such as breathing fire, and give the game a bit of variety.

Golden Axe is a really nice looking game for such an early Sega Genesis release.  The art style of the enemies and stages is really well done.  The sounds are a bit scratchy as most Sega Genesis games are, but the music is good, and sets the appropriate mood.  The controls are easy and responsive as well.  The game is really easy for the first few stages, but the difficulty shoots up quickly as soon as those damn skeletons are introduced into the game.  They’re very quick, and they are good at surrounding you.  This is where having a friend in co-op mode would be helpful.  Besides those damn skeletons my only real problem with the game is the lack of moves each character has.  I also wish the game play was a bit faster.  Despite that though, Golden Axe is a fun game.  I don’t think it’s among the best Genesis games, but it’s still a good game that is worth picking up.

Rating – 8 / 10



Posted July 5, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Sega Genesis

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