Game: Pole Position
Publisher: General Consumer Electric (a Milton Bradley company)
Developer: Namco, Ltd.
Rarity (according to RarityGuide.com): rare - 80% out of 100%
Controls: Vectrex Control Panel
Number of Players: 1
Average Cost: around $100+ CIB
Also Available On: Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-Bit, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, DOS, Intellivision, TI 99/4A, VIC-20, ZX Spectrum, arcade cabinet, and various Namco gaming compilations.
Tagline: Do you possess the skill, dexterity and courage to pull out from the crowd for qualification in one of the exclusive starting positions or will you end up as an also-ran?
Continue reading Pole Position - Vectrex
Folks, be ready to be amazed. Not shortly after Nintendo released the Nintendo 3DS, they have dropped another bombshell. It's soon to be the age of the Nintendo 2DS.
Face it, 3D was so 2010. You know that, I know that, and certainly Nintendo knows that. That's why we have been graced by this announcement. The Nintendo 2DS offers to provide the best that a 2D Dot Matrix can provide. While details are scarse, we are aware that New Old Super Mario Bros has been announced, and as a Mario fan, I am completely excited. More on this development as it arises. For now, rejoice at the news that 2D gaming is making a triumphant return to handheld gaming!
Publisher: Atari, Inc.
Developer: SNK Corporation
Designer(s)/Programmer: David W. Payne
Rarity (according to AtariAge): 2 = common+
Number of Players: 1 - 2 (turn based)
Average Cost: $.50 - $2 loose, under $10 CIB
Also Available On: Atari 5200, originally an arcade coin-op (Vanguard II later released, arcade only).
Tagline/Description: "Join the Vanguard expedition on a thrilling space odyssey. Through perilous tunnels you will fight your way to the fabulous City of Mystery and the great Gond."
Vanguard is a vertical and side-scrolling cave shooter for the Atari 2600. Your goal is to pilot your spaceship to the City of Mystery, which is located at the end of a heavily guarded tunnel, to battle the creature Gond. Your spaceship is equipped with lasers that can fire in four different directions, however your speed is decreased when firing. You will also need to keep an eye on your fuel gauge, a solid bar, located at the bottom of your screen. Your fuel depletes at a rapid rate, and your ship will crash if it runs out; fuel is replenished by destroying enemies. The tunnel is broken up into several different zones, called the mountain zone, rainbow zone, stick zone, stripe zone, bleak zone, and City of Mystery. Each zone features a variety of enemy spaceships to dispatch and earn points. In the mountain and stripe zones, you will come across energy pods marked with an 'E'. When you pilot through these pods, your ship temporarily becomes invincible to the deadly cave walls and enemies which are trying to stop you. When you finally make it through all the various zones of the tunnel and defeat Gond, the game will repeat at a more difficult skill level.
Early 80's Atari commercial for Vanguard. Every good video gaming home needs a Luther.
What makes Vanguard such a great game for the 2600 is it's concept. As many of you already know, the majority of games produced for the Atari system (besides sports titles) have no real ending and were primarily points based. Vanguard not only allowed the player to accumulate points, but also had one of the earliest defined endings in a video game, which also incorporated a boss. Though Gond, the overlord of the City of Mystery, is a one-shot pushover, the ultimate goal and challenge of Vanguard is to successfully navigate the tunnel and make it to the boss. Modern day gamers might be disappointed at such a lackluster boss battle. However, and I speak as someone who grew up on the 2600, because I grew up with no preconceived expectations of what a "boss battle" was, this ending was quite epic.
The fierce and all-powerful GOND!!!! (insert sarcasm here)
Vanguard is not the easiest game to finish and since the game repeats at a much quicker and more difficult skill level, one could argue that there is no strictly defined ending. Before battling Gond, you must navigate through seven (7) zones (the rainbow zone is repeated a few times). There are always a plethora of enemies on the screen: ones that shoot back at you, as well as those that attempt to ram your spaceship. The developers of Vanguard made sure that players are never comfortable for long within the tunnel; in some zones, you travel from left to right, while at other times the game becomes a vertical shooter in which you must navigate from down to up, or up to down. Since the game is a 4-way, multi-directional shooter, players must make full use of the joystick and fire button, since enemies approach from all directions. Areas within the cavern can get very tight on occasion and my only complaint with the controls is that your ship may move slightly when trying to direct your fire with the joystick. Since Atari controls are typically very stiff anyway, attempting to fire in a specific direction can cause you to lose control of your ship and plow into an enemy.
Though the handling can be a little frustrating at times, Vanguard is an excellent port for the Atari 2600. The graphics are superb under such limitations and the exceedingly vibrant use of color creates an other worldly atmosphere. Though Vanguard lacks a soundtrack, it's omission is masked by the constant zinging of lasers and exploding enemy starcrafts. The lone piece of music in the game occurs upon collecting an energy pod. Fans of 1980's "Flash Gordon" and/or Queen may recognize a familiar tune entitled "Vultan's Theme: Attack of the Hawkman" (http://www.the-top-tens.c...s-theme-attack-197148.asp). Some dispute their similarities, but it's quite hard to brush it off as coincidence.
Vanguard is one of a handful of tight scrolling shooters for the 2600, similar to Fantastic Voyage and Super Cobra (a Scrabble clone). If you are a fan of early shmups, this title can easily be picked up at a great price either individually or in a large lot of 2600 commons.
**video courtesy of googoo11672
RATINGS (on a scale of 1-4: 4 being the highest):
Sound Effects/Music: 3
Replay Value: 3
Cart/Box Art: 2
Overall Score: 3.17
Developer: Bally-Midway Manufacturing Co., Inc.
Designer(s): Marvin Glass
Rarity (according to AtariAge): 6 = rare+
Number of Players: 1 - 2 (turn based)
Average Cost: currently, usually $10 - $30 loose, depending on condition
Also Available On: Arcade cabinet, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, PC, Mobile phone, Xbox 360 (XBLA); also released in the compilation "Midway Arcade Treasures" for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and the PC.
"Side-splitting, soda-flinging laughs and spills!
The Official Home Version of Bally/Midway's Arcade Sensation.
Five belly-busting screens of Soda Fountain Fun, including:
-- Four mad-capped barrooms of soda-starved, clamoring cowboys, sports fans, punks, and space creatures.
-- Plus a head-spinning Soda Bandit Bonus Round
Awesome color-packed action graphics.
Just try to keep your cool as hot-headed, crazy customers blitz your bar for another cold one."
In Tapper, you control a beer tapper (bartender) and have to serve beer to demanding customers. Customers shuffle up the four bars toward your beer taps and you must slide them drinks in order to keep them satisfied and make them go away. You start out with 5 lives and these lives are lost as follows: (1) if a bar patron reaches the end of the bar without receiving their beer, (2) if you slide an extra beer when there is no customer and accidentally spill beer needlessly, and (3) if a patron throws you back an empty mug and you fail to catch it. You can score additional points by competing in a bonus round between every few stages. In these bonus rounds, a masked bandit creeps into the bar and shakes up all but one, of six available cans. The cans then flip around in a shell-game fashion and you must keep your eye on the one that was not shaken. You then select the can you deem undisturbed and the bartender opens it; if you are correct, you are awarded bonus points, if you are wrong, the tapper receives a heady bath.
Tapper was originally a coin-op machine marketed in conjunction with Budweiser and intended to be sold only to bars; many of the cabinets were designed to look like bars with a brass rail footrest and drink holders. The controller was designed to look like the tap handles on a real keg (see photos below). It's also rumored that digitized belches were also recorded, but never used. In order to broaden their target market (and to not lure the kiddies toward the "sauce"), Bally/Midway created coin-op cabinets and tabletops known as Root Beer Tapper. The Atari 2600 version is simply called Tapper, which apparently leaves it up to the consumer, or pre-video game advisory warning parents, to determine which frothy beverage bar patrons are actually chugging in game. However, in between clearing a few stages there is a bonus stage, brought to you courtesy of your good friends at Mountain Dew. It's not clear whether or not Tapper on the 2600 was trying to "C.I.A." by employing the soda company's logo, but by doing so, the ad's presence resulted in one of the earliest examples of marketing within a video game.
Tapper is a great game and probably one of the best ports to the Atari 2600. Not only is the concept original and the gameplay simple and attractive, but the sound effects and music (yes, actual music on a 2600 game) are wild west saloon-like and second to none. The graphics are as good as they can be due to the limitations of the system and all characters and settings are well defined and recognizable. My only real knock on this game is the controls. You use the joystick to move the tapper up and down, while using the orange button to fire off brewskies. Like many other 2600 games, Tapper is hampered by the rough and often rigorous directional tapping of the joystick. Because the action is so fast paced, and gets even quicker as you progress through multiple stages, the 2600 joystick cannot keep up and it often results in a few misfired mugs. One would do well in achieving higher scores by obtaining a European CX78 controller and popping this game into the ole 7800.
Even though the controls can be a bit sticky, Tapper is still one of the best games for the 2600. Though the rarity and price point make it a harder game to come by, you can easily snag a loose copy at a good deal with a last minute, no reserve auction bid. No matter what price you pay due to condition or completeness, Tapper will be one of those games that you will be proud to own.
**video courtesy of Hairman9252
RATINGS (on a scale of 1-4: 4 being the highest):
Sound Effects/Music: 4
Replay Value: 3
Cart/Box Art: 4
Overall Score: 3.50
Publisher: U.S. Games
Developer: Western Technologies
Designer(s): Jeff Corsiglia & Tom Sloper
Rarity (according to AtariAge): 4 = scarce+
Number of Players: 1 - 2
Average Cost: approx $3 - $8 loose
Also Available On: 2600 only
Tagline/Description: "You and your team of archeologists have fallen into the "catacombs of the zombies." There's no time to look around; these guys are after you, and they mean business! Your only salvation is that you have discovered the secret to the "make-break." Grab them, and you can break through walls when you get stuck, or create a wall behind you - if you are being chased. The longer you survive, the faster you have to move. Explore alone, or two archeologists can work together or compete in a frenzied trek through the catacombs."
There was probably no more diverse or stranger catalog of games than the fourteen (14) titles released by U.S. Games, a subsidiary of Quaker Oats (uhhhh....yeah), for the Atari 2600. Like several other companies (i.e. Purina, Johnson & Johnson, etc.), but with a larger volume than most, the Quaker Oats Company tried to cash in on the video gaming craze of the early 80's. Titles released by U.S. Games include:
Sneak n' Peek (a game of hide and seek);
Space Jockey (a horizontal, UFO shooter);
Word Zapper (a spelling shooter);
Commando Raid (a parachuting android shooter);
Eggomania (a Kaboom clone where you can fire back);
Piece o' Cake (a cake decorating game);
Picnic (a fly shooter);
Raft Rider (a river rafting game);
Gopher (a vegetable protecting game, similar to Activision's Oink!);
Squeeze Box (a prisoner trying to escape a constantly closing Tron MCP Cone);
Towering Inferno (a firefighting/rescue game);
M.A.D. (an improved version of Atlantis); and
Name This Game (an octopus shooter).
While some believe that a few of these games are among the worst titles for the 2600, I'd have to say that the overall catalog is pretty creative and solid (and fairly cheap). Where else can you fend off an octopus and fill your diving tank with air from a guy with long, flowing hair in a speed boat?
Entombed is another of these strange games in which you control an archeologist trying to escape a zombie-filled catacomb. While navigating a random, vertically scrolling maze, your only defense from zombies and dead end walls is an item referred to as a "make-break." A make-break allows you to knock down a square section of wall or place a similar section of wall in an open area to fend off zombies (similar to Lock n' Chase). However, make-breaks are not abundant and are collected 3 at-a-time in the form of side-to-side moving rectangles, throughout the maze. Scoring in Entombed, for the 1-player game, is determined by how deep into the maze your archeologist goes. You are awarded one point for making it through an undefined section of the maze; there are no treasures to collect or points for killing zombies. As you might have noticed, scoring is not one of the stronger features of this game.
Another poor feature of the game is it's graphics. Zombies, which should be very cool, instead look like arachnids, your archeologist is merely a semi-mobile stick figure, and the make-breaks are, well, just blocks (a hammer, or some sort of device would have been cooler). There is no music and the only sound effects are a series of extremely monotone beeps (only when zombies are near) and an electronic gurgle when you pick up a make-break.
With all of its faults, Entombed is a pretty good game (yeah, stick with me here). I remember loving this game as a kid and playing it every time I went to my neighbor's house. When I saw it in a pawn shop several months ago I grabbed it up quickly, even though it had a bit of label damage. So what is it that I liked so much about this game? Well for one, I enjoyed the pace of the game (how it continues to get faster as you complete every level) and the frantic dodging/escaping from zombies while collecting make-breaks to ensure mobility; you lose lives by either running into a zombie or by being forced into the top of the scrolling screen when you are out of make-breaks and are unable to escape a dead end. The controls are adequate for a 2600 game, since your only movements through the maze are vertical and horizontal; however, setting make-breaks correctly in open areas to avoid zombies can sometimes present a challenge.
While the originality of the game is great, the best feature of Entombed has to be its 2-player option. In two player mode, both participants play at the same time, instead of the Atari turn-based style that is typical with most 2600 games. Two player mode can be played in two different ways (as determined by the participants): (1) you can battle against each other to see who can make it deeper into the maze (whoever dies first loses), or (2) you can work with each other, hoarding and best using make-breaks, to see how far you both can go. Being somewhat of an a%$, and torturer of my wife and friends, I tend to prefer the former.
Though there is nothing particularly exceptional in terms of graphics and sound in Entombed, the gameplay is fairly solid and the cost of the game is typically low. For a few bucks, Entombed should be worth heavy consideration if found in the wild.
**video courtesy of Highretrogamelord89**
RATINGS (on a scale of 1-4: 4 being the highest):
Sound Effects/Music: 1
Replay Value: 2
Cart/Box Art: 3
Overall Score: 2.34
Echo Night: Beyond
Since last week I went with a very well known title in horror gaming, I figured I'd go for something a little bit more obscure, and a bit more mellow. In fact, this odd futuristic ghost story is more sorrowful than anything else. That doesn't mean it's without it's freakier moments, but the gameplay in this title doesn't have all the big action sequences of other titles. It's also the third in the Echo Night series, so if you're familiar with those, you should know what to expect.
In Echo Night: Beyond, you play Richard Osmond, a passenger on a space shuttle heading to a small lunar base. His fiance, Claudia, lives there, and it's their intention to marry once he arrives. But things don't go according to plan. His shuttle crash lands, colliding with the very place you're trying to get. Richard awakens to find himself alone in the wrecked shuttle. He decides to grab a spacesuit and enter the base to find Claudia.
Unfortunately for Richard, it appears everyone inside the base is dead, the power is out, and ghosts are wandering the halls. To progress in the story, you'll have to find various items and appease the wandering spirits so that their souls get released from this mortal coil. To do this, you'll have to talk to them, which is a bit unsettling as they tend to fade in and out depending on how close you are. There's also lots of backtracking in the game, which can become annoying, though much of the game takes place around a central junction, so nothing is ever terribly far away.
So, you're wandering in the dark, there are corpses everywhere, and their ghosts are wandering around. Could it get worse? Well yes, actually. You see, there's a bizarre mist that has spread throughout the base, making ghosts that inhabit it hostile, and if they get near you for long enough, your heart rate will spike and you'll go into cardiac arrest. This means two things: every encounter can be fatal fast, and your only options are to run away. There's no camera to fight with, no proton packs, no nothing. Instead, you have to sneak past them and pray one doesn't find you.
Also, the game's first person view really adds to the tension here, because these ghosts just have to be near you. You don't have to see them, and likely you won't: as your heart rates goes up, your vision blacks out. It can be a harrowing experience to enter a room with one and suddenly scramble for the door, only to realize you can hardly see where you're going. And if you do see it, well...some of these things get downright creepy.
Still, ghosts register on film, so you can use the vast network of security cameras to watch their patterns and discover their routes, since most of them follow set paths. Note I said most: there's one ghost in particular that will stalk you throughout the game, and he knows when you're using a security camera. Whenever you look at him he's got a nasty habit of looking back at you.
And then there's the atmosphere: you'll spend a good chunk of the game wandering around with just a flashlight, though it's not as bad as when you wander outside in my opinion. Once outside, there's little gravity so you jump really far, and the lighting gets a bit odd. The first time outside, I nearly threw myself off a cliff into a crater. To make matters worse, there are quite a few jumping puzzles while outside, and you do still have to look out for spirits.
The lack of action might bother some players, so this game definitely isn't meant for everyone. But if you're a fan of the old point-and-click adventure gameplay or enjoyed titles like Penumbra or other first person horror games, such as Juggernaut, D, or Hellnight, this may be right up your alley. And as an added bonus, it saw release in all three major regions, so getting it shouldn't be too difficult. Just be aware that in Japan it's known as Nebula: Echo Night.
Here's the intro for you:
It's been about a month since I started moving my game room, and well, it's done. For the most part anyway. I wanted to have my game room moved within a week, but the carpet store we got the new carpet from had a hard time scheduling the installation, so I had to wait much longer than I wanted to. However, the carpet store didn't tell the carpet installers that they were supposed to do the hallway as well, so they didn't have a piece to do the closet so Room of Doom 3.0 isn't quite ready yet, so no "after"pictures quite yet. Those should be ready next week or so.
But for now, I'll give a final look at Room of Doom 2.5 via a video tour and a sneak peak of what Room of Doom 3.0 will look like.
Continue reading The Adventures of Moving a Game Room Part 2
In case you've been living under a rock for the past two weeks, pop music legend, Michael Jackson, has passed away. One thing the Thriller superstar was known for was his giant Neverland Ranch, which was foreclosed and auctioned off last year. As part of the auctions, the arcade in Neverland Ranch was sold. The Orange County Pinball Lab website got a look inside and took several panoramic shots of the arcade. Check it out here: http://www.pinsane.com/pi.../events/MJ_09/index.shtml. Or if you prefer, you can view the arcade's contents in the auction catalogue here: http://www.juliensauction...el-jackson/icatalog4.html
Some of the highlights (for me) include:
- Giant Lego Darth Vader
- Darkstalkers arcade machine
- Super Street Fighter II
- Sega R360 (That thing looks freaking awesome)
- NBA Hangtime (LOVED that game as a kid)
- Galaxy Force (I remember playing that game in the arcade as a kid and how awesome it was that it spun and tilted)
- Several kiosks including N64, 3DO, PS1, Virtual Boy, Saturn, SNES, Genesis, Dreamcast,
- Mocap Boxing (It's like Project Natal!)
- Guitar Freaks
- Dig Dug
- Donkey Kong
- Neo Geo MVS
- Marvel Vs Capcom
Quite the collection I must say. I don't know if he was a gamer, but I'm sure a lot of guests were. Creepy, no?
It looks like it's finally going to happen. I'm finally going to move my game room again. Ironically, it's going to the same room it was originally. So, I thought I might as well do a blog on what's going on with the move and how it's working out.
But first, I'm going to give a little background on the history of my game collection and how it got to be where it is today.
Continue reading The Adventures of Moving a Game Room
25 years ago, on June 6, 1984, the US was in the height of the Cold War with Russia and a Russian by the name of Alexey Pajitnov completed the first version of a time-sucking weapon known as Tetris, arguably the most successful puzzle game of all-time, and one of the best video games ever created.
Almost everything that can play games has received a version of Tetris: ranging from common systems like the NES, Game Boy, and Nintendo DS, to more obscure systems such as the Nuon and Virtual Boy. Of course, there are many ports to devices not normally intended for gaming, such as TI-83 calculators (Ztris got me through so many boring study hall sessions in high school) and just about every cell phone ever made (EA's iPhone version of Tetris is one of the best selling games in the Apple App Store).
So, I ask everyone, to spend some time today and celebrate the legacy of Tetris by playing a few rounds. Whether you play it on your NES, iPhone, or simply in your browser, just play it and remember why it's one of the greatest games ever.
Leave some of your memories of Tetris in the comments. Did it suck up your life? Do you remember playing it when it first came out? Do you think it sucks? Let us know!
In closing, here's a little tribute song to Tetris:
I'm sure you've heard the news about EGM being shut down in the whole UGO buying 1UP thing. For those who don't know, EGM's closing marks the end of a 20 year legacy and the passing of one of the biggest influences on gaming journalism (and gaming as a whole).
In honor of EGM's closing, the Drunken Gamers Radio podcast has dedicated this week's episode to reminisce on the glory years of the magazine and their early memories of it. In addition, hosts John, Moe, and Hilden bring in special guests and former EGM employees, "Trickman" Terry Minnich, Ken "Sushi-X" Williams, and Dan Hsu to talk about their time working at the magazine.
Many podcasts have dedicated themselves to the EGM/1UP closing, but DGR has done the best job of any of them. This podcast is highly recommended listening for everyone here since we all have a soft spot in our hearts for classic gaming. Even if you're not familiar with EGM, this podcast should help you realize just how big of an influence EGM had on the gaming world and how huge this closing really is.
You can find the episode on the iTunes Store or on their website at RobotPanic.com.
What are your memories of EGM and/or 1UP? Let us know in the comments.
Back in the 1970s, in a time when video games began to increase in popularity after the success of games such as Pong, companies, such as Atari and Magnavox released home versions of the game. Then, Atari's engineers designed a way to play video games at home via cartridges, making it possible for home gamers to own one system, but play many different games. Finally, in October 1977, Atari released the Atari Video Computer System, or Atari 2600. The system didnt become an instant success until around 1978, when Atari gained the rights to the game Space Invaders, and ported it to the 2600, becoming the world's first ever ported arcade game.
Now, like many of you on the site, along with me, consider the Atari 2600 to be one of your favorite video game systems. Many of you may remember the hours you spent in front of your tv playing favorites such as Missile Command, Asteroids, Pitfall!, Berzerk, Combat, Centipede, and Ms. Pac-Man.
Looking at the system, you see that the system is very simple, despite the number of switches on it. Originally, the first run of Video Computer Systems came from the Sunnyvale, California plant with black plastic, a woodgrain front, and six switches. The weight of the system and the number of switches on the front, the early run of the systems became known as the "Heavy Sixer." As time went on, Atari continued to downsize the system. Some revisions were a 6 switch with less weight (Light Sixer), woodgrain front with 4 switches (4 switch woody), and an all-black 4 switch model (the Darth Vader model).
Another good point of the system was the controller. It remains today as one of the simplest controllers for a video game system. The controller is simply a joystick and one button. The other controllers made for the system are the paddle controllers and the driving controller. The paddle controller is a simple spinning knob made for pong and breakout style games. The driving controller was the same as the paddle controller, but the paddle is a continuous 360 degree spin. On top of this, literally hundreds of third party controllers were designed and released for the system.
As the 80s came around, more arcade games made more possibilities of ports for the 2600. Unfortunately, these were also the years when the 2 worst 2600 games were released. First off was the 2600 port of Pac-Man. The biggest problem with the game was the fact that it looked nothing like the original arcade game. This was because of the fact that when Todd Frye, programmer in charge of the game, presented the prototype, Atari released the prototype. Millions bought the game and were extremely disappointed. The other game is the infamous E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. The game was so bad that the 5 million unsold copies were buried in the New Mexico desert.
In the mid 1980s, fierce competition came from companies such as Nintendo, causing people to begin to abandon the 2600. At this time, Atari redesigned the 2600 as the new Atari 2600 (called the Atari 2600 Jr.), with a new "The Fun Is Back" campaign. This boosted sales of the 2600 for a few years. Finally, Atari discontinued the Atari 2600 in around 1992
As you can see from this review, the Atari 2600 has had a very long and exciting history. As of late, popularity of the 2600 has exploded, and fandom of the system is alive and well. Recently, homebrewers have began creating and releasing brand new Atari 2600 games, via Atariage. http://www.atariage.com/store/ (link to the atariage store)
Even though I wasn't even born when the system was out, it has become one of my highest rated video game systems. This one deserves a perfect 10/10.
Another awesome year has passed, another 12 hours or so and it will be 2009. This year, I obtained a ton of games, somewhere between 600-800 games. Not bad, not bad at all. But as most of you know, buying that many games isn't cheap, so I thought I would share what I've spent this year.
Continue reading My End Of Year Collection Stats
Reviewing is something completely new to me, so this will be a learning process for me, so feel free to critique my reviewing style. My reviews are based on what I like and dislike about the games, not what I think the general public will like or dislike about the game. Since I'm not a big gamer as most other reviewers, my reviews will be based on the first few levels of games instead of the entire game, so keep that in mind when reading. I'm going to try and start reviewing games that are a little less talked about and maybe even games that you've never heard of. I'm going to start with some NES and Famicom games because I've got this really cool 76-in-1 pirate cart that is full of great (and not so great) NES and Famicom games.
The first game I'm going to review is B-Wings for the Nintendo Famicom. B-Wings was released in 1986 and is a Japan only game, so good luck finding it if you're in the US or Europe, there isn't even a copy of it on eBay right now, but there was one on GameGavel not too long ago, so they are out there, it just may be a bit pricey.
Gameplay: The game plays about the same as any generic vertical shooter, but it does have one thing that sets it apart from others that I have played. At the start of the game, you have your choice of weapons. There are ten different weapons for you to choose from. The cannon fires three shots that shoot straight in front of you, they are quite powerful, but lack any ability to shoot in other directions. "Wide" fires 5 shots that progressively spread further from each other, they are powerful and the path of destruction is great. "Multi" fires three shots, sometimes they all go straight ahead, other times one goes straight, one goes to the left and one goes to the right, and other times they fire at an angle so they all go forward, but progressively get further form each other. "Van" fires six very powerful shots that go a very short distance, but spread around you in a fan shape. "Side" fires seven shots, one that goes straight ahead, and three on each side that fire to the sides in a fan shape. "Anti" fires two shots straight ahead and two shots straight behind. "Hammer" is my personal favorite weapon and fires two very powerful shots straight ahead and also has two "orbs" that circle your ship for extra protection. "Jump" is essentially the same as Cannon, but one of the shots explodes, but it doesn't really seem to help things much. "Dyna" is an extremely power single shot that is very wide and can destroy several smaller enemies in the one shot. "Fire" is the last weapon option and is a wave of energy that is quite powerful but has a small range, and it allows you to almost continuously fire.
Once you have selected your weapon, your ship attaches to it and you're sent into space to destroy anything that comes at you. There are several different types of flying enemies to destroy as well as stationary objects to destroy. If an enemy drives into you or hits you with a weapon, you lose your main weapon and have to rely on a very small, weak cannon. If you drive into one of the stationary objects, your ship explodes and you're dead.
Throughout the game, you have the option to pick up another weapon, you can pick it up by simply driving into it if you have already lost your main weapon or you drop your current weapon and then pick up the new one. The weapons all have a different shape, but with 8-bit graphics, it's quite hard trying to distinguish and memorize what each weapon looks like.
There is also the option for 2 players, which sadly isn't co-op, but you alternate turns when one person dies the other picks up where that person dies. It's better than no second player support, but co-op would have been even better.
Graphics & Sound:
The graphics aren't bad for 1986, but nothing spectacular either. I've only played through the first two levels, but the enemies all seem to be unique, so it's not as repetitive as some games in this genre are.
The sound effects and music are very nice. The sound effects are basically your average 8-bit sound effects, but the music is great. Though it is hard to hear when you're constantly blasting away.
In conclusion, this game is great, if you like vertical shooters at least. I could definitely see myself playing this game for hours on end if I had the time. If you're looking for a deep game to lose yourself in the story, well, this isn't for you then. It's more of a pick up play when you've got some spare time type game.
I gave this game a 90% because it is a blast to play, but there really isn't anything memorable about it.
In 1989, at a time when the NES was increasing even more in popularity, Sega, who already had some popularity in the United States with the 8-Bit Master System, and Arcade games such as Altered Beast and After Burner II, released a video game console that was meant to take on Nintendo's NES, the Genesis, which became one of the greatest 16-Bit consoles of all time.
At the time of it's release, Sega's main success was in the arcades, and overseas in the UK, where the Master System was extremely popular. On October 29, 1988, Sega release the MegaDrive in Japan. About a year later, on August 14, 1989, Sega release the Genesis in the United States. Sega pushed the Genesis on American consumers with the classic "Genesis does what Nintendon't" commercials. Those who paid the money for the system got the system, controllers, hookups, and the arcade port of Altered Beast. Many of the games released at launch were arcade ports and sports games. These include: Strider, Pat Riley Basketball, James "Buster" Douglas K.O. Boxing, and Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. The graphics of the system made people question why they were still playing on the old 8-Bit NES. Some kept their Nintendo's, and some took the leap into the 16-Bit era. Early in the Genesis' lifetime, Sega released a peripheral for the system called the Sega Power Base Converter. This peripheral slid into the cartridge port of the system an allowed the user to insert Sega Master System games into the converter, giving it backwards compatibility with practically all Master System games, and game Cards.
As the years went on, the Genesis saw some fierce competition coming from Nintendo, with their Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and NEC's TurboGrafx-16. Sega held on, however, and gained even greater popularity with the release of the game Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic was, as most today know, a blue, bad ass, in-your-face hedgehog, and was much more fierce when compared to Nintendo's little Italian plumber, Mario. Also, Sega was able to beat out Nintendo with one fighting game, Mortal Kombat. While the Genesis version of the game didn't look as good or sound as good as the SNES version, the Genesis version had full blood, and no censored fatalities.
As the Genesis passed into the 32-Bit era, Sega tried to keep up with the graphics of the more advanced systems. They began to push the games to their graphical limits, and even released a couple of add-ons to make the system more powerful. The first of the two was the Sega Mega CD, released in Japan in 1991, and released in the United States in 1992 as the Sega CD. As the name states, this add-on was a disc drive that attached to either the bottom of the model 1 Genesis or on the side of the model 2. The add-on also enabled the Genesis to play audio CDs. Most of the games on the Sega CD were crappy FMV (full motion video) games. Some of the better ones, however, were Sonic CD, Snatcher, The Terminator, and Mortal Kombat. Mortal Kombat on the Sega CD featured the same Genesis graphics, but arcade sounds, speech, and music. Later on, in 1994, Sega released the Sega 32X, which was inserted into the cartridge port of the Genesis, could play all of the regular 16-Bit games, and also had its own line of 32-Bit games such as Mortal Kombat II, Knuckle's Chaotix, Star Wars Arcade, Doom, and Virtua Fighter. These add-ons are infamous for their low amounts of killer titles, and extremely high prices at launch.
In closing, Sega made their greatest benchmark on the video game industry with the Genesis, and many gamers of today swear by the old Blast Processor. This system gets a 8/10.