Quest Arrest (Evercade): COMPLETED!

OK, the bad points out of the way with this first. The graphics are poor (yes, it’s a Game Boy Colour game, but still), the writing is awful and it is full of bugs. There’s no end of swearing which doesn’t even work in context, and the JRPG style fighting system is random and broken (not least because your health bar doesn’t physically change half the time, even though the value of it does). What you have to do is vague and often doesn’t make sense. Every time you change location it pauses the game and pops up to tell you where you are. There are spelling mistakes galore.

It very much feels like a “my first game” project by someone younger than the material they’re producing would be aimed at. It’s all f-this and kill that and murder the other without any of the dialogue to surround it.

It’s not big and it’s not clever, sorry.

But, if that is indeed the situation with its creation, then the output is laudable. There’s a lot going on here and although much of it is unsuccessful there’s a good base behind it. In fact, if the text was just edited well, perhaps made adult in context rather than adult in content, that would fix most of the issues I had with it.

Aside from that, the main aim of the game is to deal with (either kill or arrest) all of the members of some gang causing problems in the local area. Once you’ve done that, you can take down Athena, their boss, who is a badly signposted twist in the story. It’s a short game, and apart from the randomness and occasional inability to see what is a door and what isn’t, not especially hard. I just with it was a bit more toned down and polished.

Deadeus (Evercade): COMPLETED!

For something that looks like Pokémon on the Game Boy, boy did this take a turn. It’s a Game Boy game, set in a little village, with a nice beach and a church and a school and a library, but there’s a dark and sinister secret that the locals don’t want to talk about. And you and your friends have just started having nightmares about it.

With just three days until An Event, you have to get the truth out of people. Or, you can just leave town. In fact, it seems there are a number of different endings available to you, of which I found four. Two of which involve you dying,

It’s an unusual little game, and some bits don’t quite work (like the school only offers three classes and you just turn up to lessons when you fancy it), but the story is compelling and some of the shocking events on the third day are genuinely pretty shocking.

And you can dig up a dead cat. What’s not to enjoy?

Foxyland (Evercade): COMPLETED!

This isn’t quite what I was expecting. You see, I’ve seen Foxyland (and several sequels) on the Switch eShop and PSN, and this isn’t quite that. It’s actually a Mega Drive version of the game, which had different levels.

It’s a basic platformer, where you have to collect a number of gems on each short level as well as optionally collect cherries (get enough and you get an extra life). Foxy can only jump and double-jump, and there’s various baddies, spikes, traps and falling blocks that kill him. Every few levels you get a boss fight, of sorts, and later levels get a bit bloody tricky both because of the difficulty but also some have puzzles involving switches.

It’s probably not a game I’d have bought otherwise, but it was nice enough.

Cosmic Spacehead (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Although I own this on the Mega Drive, I don’t think I’ve ever played it. But with it being on the Evercade, as with many other titles, I’m rectifying that. And. completed it, of course.

The game is split between a Lucasarts-style point and click adventure game (there’s even a reference to Lucasarts in the form of a cave painting) and a platformer, with simple platforming sections wedged between each location.

With simple puzzles and no difficult platforming, it didn’t take me long to reach the end. As you’d expect, using a joypad to point-and-click isn’t ideal, but you can cycle through actions with the buttons to save manually selecting them with the pointer which helps. I like the art style, and although the backtracking was a bit of a pain I enjoyed it overall.

Mega-lo-Mania (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Yes. I played Mega-lo-Mania again, and yes, I completed it again. This time, however, it was the recently released Evercade version! Which is just the Mega Drive version again only on an Evercade cart of course.

I chose to play as Scarlet this time through, and for the second time ever, one of the other players managed to stick some people in suspended animation for the Mother of All Battles. Of course, they only had about 10 of them whereas I had a couple of hundred or something, so they didn’t last long. Still, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Racing Fever (Evercade): COMPLETED!

My new Evercade cartridges arrived! I have no idea why this is the game I played first, but I did, and because it’s very easy, I’d soon completed it too.

I’d never heard of Racing Fever before, but it’s clearly an attempt to bring a game like the Neo Geo titles Over Top and Drift Out to the Game Boy Advance (where this first appeared). I think this also marks the first Game Boy Advance title to appear on the Evercade too, actually.

There are 12 tracks, many of which feel the same despite the changes in scenery. Some of this is probably because you never actually drive down the screen, despite the fact you have several laps of each track! That is to say, you only go left, right and up (and diagonally up) on the screen and yet still somehow end up back where you started.

It’s a bit low rent, and as I said, very easy, but it was fun enough until I finished it.

Xeno Crisis (Evercade): COMPLETED!

I was immediately impressed with Xeno Crisis. It’s a Mega Drive game (tailored here to fit the Evercade’s controls) with great sound and graphics, and really slick and lots of sprites on screen at once.

It’s a Smash TV sort of shooter, with screen after screen of baddies to shoot (and the odd soldier to rescue), with each level ending with a boss – some of which are bloody huge.

The only issue with the game is it’s so hard. So very, very hard. And then, when I completed it, I got a bad ending with no suggestion as to how I’d managed it. Mr Internet explained that because I’d used some serum which revives you, ultimately that caused my death at the end, and the trick is to Not Ever Die.

So, armed with the button combination to open up a hidden menu where you can make yourself invulnerable and start on the final level, I completed it again. And still got the bad ending despite not using any serum. Tch.

Super Double Dragon (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Or, in some parts of the game, “Return of Double Dragon”.

The thing is, I picked my Evercade up and the Technōs cartridge was still in it from when I played River City Ransom recently and the shelf with all my Evercade games on was easily six feet away and therefore too far to bother with, so I picked something from the cart already inserted and that was Super Double Dragon, which I’d never played before.

It’s very much What if Double Dragon was Final Fight, but it’s not as good as Final Fight. It’s not a bad game, but it was pretty easy and much less impressive both visually and sonically than Final Fight. Or Streets of Rage.

River City Ransom (Evercade): COMPLETED!

I’m sure I own this on about five different platforms now, but for some reason, the Evercade version is the only one i’ve actually put the time in to complete. Previously, I’d found it very, very, hard, but in fact, it’s not. Once you reach the first shopping centre – only a few screens in – you can buy a power-up which makes you capable of wiping out a lot of foes more easily, so can start grinding to get money, to get food and books to boost your stats.

Since dying only puts you back to the last shopping centre, and you lose half you money, the trick is to build up some cash, spend it all on upgrades, then repeat the process. It sounds tedious, but it really isn’t, and after an hour or so you’re massively overpowered and can kill almost everyone (including some of the bosses) in seconds.

Really enjoyed it, got a bit addicted to the upgrade cycle, and hope there’s a sequel on something I own to work through now. Well, aside from River City Girls of course – I’ve done that one!

Super Robin Hood (Evercade): COMPLETED!

This reminds me a lot of every single platformer for the Spectrum. Especially Ghost Hunters, for some reason. Which is also a Codemasters game. Yes, i know there was a Spectrum version of this too, but I never played it.

Anyway, you explore a castle, collect treasure, and eventually reach Maid Marion. Except when I got there, a ladder to reach her was broken. Turns out, you have to get all the treasure to fix the ladder (for some reason that isn’t explained). Of course.

So I had to spend half an hour backtracking (thankfully I’d killed many of the baddies and opened a few shortcuts so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been) and then another half an hour returning to the final screen again. With the ladder complete, so was the game!

Not a fantastic game, but a more than competent 8bit platformer. Providing you don’t miss any treasure, obviously.

Mystery World Dizzy (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Two things about this game struck me. Firstly, it’s very much like a much shorter version of The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy what with many of the same (again) puzzles and locations. Secondly, there’s no way this is a NES game, surely? It looks way too good. And when you drop three items on the same screen it doesn’t flicker like mad. And it’s so smooth! And the music is way ahead of that in the other Dizzy games!

As I said, it’s a lot shorter than the previous Dizzy game I’d played, so it wasn’t long before I was done with this too. It’s really good though – very impressive.

The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Good grief that was a long game. Not helped by the fact that nearly two hours in I discovered I’d somehow managed to accidentally sequence break and ended up somewhere without items I needed to progress and no way to return to where they were located. Apparently that isn’t possible, but I did it anyway.

So I started again, and that took five hours. Five hours! For a NES Dizzy game with no password system or save games. On the Evercade, i can save and quit when I want, but on the original NES that would have been ridiculous. I’m reminded of another Codemasters game – Rolo to the Rescue – on the Mega Drive which, after four hours play, I realised there was no way to save or continue later. After turning it off, I never played it again. At least, until emulators were a thing.

Back to the game though. Well, it’s the same as all the other Dizzy games, isn’t it? It’s much, much larger with way more to-ing and fro-ing, but it rehashes a lot of previous puzzles and locations, and adds four sort of mini-games that must be completed to continue. I remember two of them – Dizzy Down the Rapids and Bubble Dizzy – as standalone releases on the Spectrum.

Aside from getting stuck on my first playthrough, I didn’t find it all that difficult (although the cloud jumping section was frustrating). It was just really long!

Wonderland Dizzy (Evercade): COMPLETED!

OK, so I’ve played a few of these NES Dizzy games now and without wanting to point out they’re all the same… they are a bit?

I mean, some of the puzzles are very similar, and there’s a whole heap of asset reuse, but it’s different enough. I think.

This was longer than Dizzy the Adventurer, but actually easier. The puzzle solutions were more obvious (especially if you’ve read Alice in Wonderland on which much of the game is based), and although it was possible to die from high falls or falling in water (but only some water, confusingly), that didn’t happen nearly as much. I also collected all the stars without actually needing to hunt them down.

But, like the other games, Wonderland Dizzy was very enjoyable and still stands up well today.

Dizzy the Adventurer (Evercade): COMPLETED!

I’d never played this Dizzy game before, although many parts of it seemed familiar. Was is a retitled reworking of another one, perhaps?

It was much, much easier than Treasure Island Dizzy, not least because it looks like the only way you can die is by falling in water, and I only did that once. There’s a bit of an anticlimax at the end too when you don’t get to fight Zaks like I was sure you would (and I thought you needed the potion for – perhaps that’s another Dizzy game). It was good though!

Tanglewood (Evercade): COMPLETED!

There was a lot of hype surrounding this game before and soon after it’s original release on the Mega Drive. Not least because it was a home made but professional quality Mega Drive game coming out some 20-odd years after making a Mega Drive game had been a financially viable prospect. It looks amazing, and has some fantastic animation (especially on the fox you control), and I saved a load of money getting it for the Evercade instead of other platforms.

And it’s perfectly good. It has a few puzzles, a fair amount of platforming, some big beasties to outsmart or outrun, and an unusual power-up system where you push fluffy seed things to lights where you can activate them and get temporary powers.

But, there’s something missing. It’s serviceable and there’s a few clever bits, and it does incredible things with the console’s limited colour palette, but I just didn’t find it all that much fun. Perhaps it was the number of leaps of faith in the platforming. Maybe it was the slightly frustrating way the power-ups just ran out at the time you’d figured out how you needed to use them. Or possibly the slightly dodgy collision detection. Or none of those things. They put so much into making it An Art that they forgot to make it An Enjoyable Game?

That’s a little harsh, perhaps. It’s not bad at all. It just isn’t as fun as it should be, and as a result just went on a bit too long.