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.

Side Pocket (Evercade): COMPLETED!

OK, so it’s no Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker, and it does only have an overhead view with no zooming and a shot guide which isn’t even nearly granular enough for a pool game, but I was somewhat hooked.

Even with the way you play a frame (on your own!), then have to do a trick shot, and if you fail the trick shot, you have to play another frame. You only progress to the next round if you – lets face it – fluke your way through the tricks. Like I did.

Everything is too small, inaccurate and the ball movement is as jerky as that terrible pinball game on the NES and yet, I was still hooked.

And I completed it. Somehow.

Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Not a huge amount to say about this, aside from I’d never played it before and it was much like the first game only you can play the levels in any order.

It has some good, mostly dinosaur based, bosses, a stupid plot about cavemen (who live in tents rather than caves) and a magic crown. I mean, I know there’s some issue with cavemen existing around the time of dinosaurs but magic now? Come on.

It’s definitely a game of it’s time which doesn’t really stand up so well now, but it’s not bad.

Fighter’s History (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Although I’d heard of this game, I’d always put it down as a poor-man’s Street Fighter II, like so many other 16bit games that turned up around the same time, like Body Blows and Art of Fighting and Eternal Champions and so on. Turns out, it’s actually much better than I’d convinced myself.

In fact, it’s almost as playable as Street Fighter II itself. Sure, it has a number of shameless clone characters and backgrounds, not to mention moves, but it’s pretty slick and much better than it really deserves to be.

I played with a few different characters before finding Ray best suited my playstyle. He’s a bit like a cross between Terry Bogard and Ryu. Anyway, I completed it as him. Having Karnov as a boss was a bit of a surprise! And then that ridiculous Clown guy? What?

Mappy Kids (Evercade): COMPLETED!

I’m a fan of the original Mappy, and it’s the first game I test whenever I set MAME up on yet another device, but I’d never heard of Mappy Kids.

I was expecting it to be similar to the original, but actually it’s totally different. Instead of being some hybrid of Bonanza Bros and Burger Time, it’s a side scrolling platformer where you have to collect money and valuable items. At the end of each level you play a minigame against a cat – some flag game, a spot the difference game, and a bum-bumping bizarre fight thing – and win, or lose, more money or get extra lives. With this money, you buy items for your house and garden, and presumably to get the good ending (which I did) you have to buy everything.

The platforming itself isn’t anything special, but it’s fine. The bum-bumping game is nearly impossible, and collecting all the money needed to buy everything is very easy and I had loads left over by the end of the game. All that said though, I did enjoy playing it: simple but quirky.

Super Painter (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Well this is a lovely wee game. it’s a simple premise – run round the platforms avoiding baddies and touching all the uncoloured wall and floor tiles to paint them. It has a very 1980s arcade type game feel, and everything is all tiny and cute.

It’s on the Mega Cat Evercade cartridge, which I understand to contain new games for old consoles, and this is presumably a NES title? It’s pretty good, anyway, and my only complaint is that it’d be nice if you auto-centred when climbing the ladders – as it is, you can climb up the left or right of the ladders, causing you to snag on the wall tiles. I think if it worked like Chuckie Egg, it’d be a bit better.

Dreamworld Pogie (Evercade): COMPLETED!

This is supposedly an old NES game the Oliver Twins never finished, but released a couple of years ago after a campaign to get it completed. It’s a pretty simple side-scrolling platform game, which doesn’t really stand out in any way (aside from being incredibly easy!) but does look and sound good for a NES title.

There are only 15 or so levels, and they’re not especially long. Most of them have a powerup which you can collect which makes you both move twice as fast, and become invincible for a short time, making them even shorter. Mind you, I died three times and twice were because I was under the influence of said powerup and I ran into lava (which still kills you).

It seems you can extend the game by collecting all the stars in each level, but this doesn’t appear to actually do anything (although you get an extra life for every 100) and none are actually tricky to reach, so by halfway through the game I stopped bothering.