Fire ‘N Ice (Switch): COMPLETED!

What I first thought was a more simplistic Solomon’s Key type game, Fire ‘N Ice actually turned out to be a prequel to Solomon’s Key and was released as Solomon’s Key 2 in some countries. It loses the moving (and respawning) enemies from the original, as well as the attacks, jumping, and time limits, leaving just the ability to create or destroy ice blocks immediately down-left and down-right of you. And it’s all the better for it.

With no time limit and very few parts where timing is critical, the game is properly in puzzle territory and this suits it well. Solomon’s Key was too stressful for me! You only have to concern yourself with how to squash all the static (for the most part) enemies by dropping or pushing ice blocks onto or into them. That doesn’t mean it’s easier, it just means it’s lest chaotic.

With 100 levels to get through, some of which used your limited options really cleverly (like, how do you climb higher up the level, if you’re only able to create blocks below you?), it’s a long game despite each being just one single screen. I easily spent 5-6 hours on it. I’m not even sure why I started playing in the first place – but I’m glad I did as it’s a wonderful hidden gem of a game.

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!

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.

Vice: Project Doom (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’d never heard of this game before, and I only gave it a go as I noticed it on the NES Online service thing on the Switch today. Surprisingly, it was actually pretty good.

I say surprisingly, because it very much reminded me of two terrible games I’ve played recently: ESWAT and Ninja Gaiden. Somehow, though, it’s much, much better than either of those. It has the same sort of platforming, bosses, and even a plot not too dissimilar to Ninja Gaiden, as well as interstitial dialogue like both other games. It plays much better, though, with tighter collision detection and baddies that don’t constantly respawn if you move one pixel back and forth.

As well as the platforming, there are a couple of Spy Hunter-like driving sections. These aren’t great, and actually play out more like a vertical shooter than a driving game, but they’re easy and quickly over. There are also a few Operation Wolf style shooting levels, which are OK but obviously suffer a bit as you can’t use a lightgun.

So yeah, it was surprising. Not the best NES game by any means, but above average and I’m amazed I’d never seen it until today.

TwinBee (Switch): COMPLETED!

A few years ago, I completed this on the Xbox 360. And now I have completed it on the Switch. As in, the NES game in the NES classics thing.

It’s a decent little vertically scrolling shooter with an odd bell shooting system (shoot bells enough and they go blue, collect a blue one to speed up your ship), and I lost my ship’s arms at one point so couldn’t drop bombs.

After beating the end boss the game loops back to the start, so no credits as such. Still, done.

Mappy-Land (NES): COMPLETED!

Mappy is a game I always play whenever I fire up MAME and haven’t anything in mind to actually play. I’m terrible at it, but I play it quite a lot. Imagine my surprise when I found this NES-only sequel existed. Not only that, it’s pretty good too.

Like the original, it’s a platformer where the gimmick is trampolines. You bounce on them to reach higher platforms. It differs from the original in a similar way to how Pac-Land and Mighty Bombjack did over their predecessors – by making it a side-scroller. Sort of.

You collect 6 items in each level then head for the exit. Sometimes, you have to obtain an item from a  sub-level to open the exit. Once you’ve done all 8 levels and given your girlfriend a load of cheese, the game restarts with different level layouts and a different set of items to collect. Run through all the levels four times, and that’s it! Well, the game starts again, but it’s effectively completed. Which is what I did.

Kid Kool and the Quest for the Seven Wonder Herbs (NES): COMPLETED!

As a big fan of the later games by the same developer (Psycho Fox, Magical Hat and Decapattack) I’ve always intended to play Kid Kool. For some reason, it has never worked for me on either OpenEmu on the Mac, or on RetroPie.  I recently rebult my RetroPie image and it now works, so who knows.

Seems I probably shouldn’t have bothered, as it’s awful.

It’s closest to Psycho Fox, unsurprising since it’s an 8-bit title. Like that game, you have a creature that sits on your shoulder that you can throw. Unlike Psycho Fox, you can’t punch, which is where the first frustrating thing comes in. You can still jump on things, but not being able to punch is a massive issue, making some of the game impossible if you don’t have the shoulder pet.

Other issues are present in Psycho Fox too, like the bizarre momentum and ability to just incredibly high but barely horizontal at all unless you’re running. In the later game, this is mostly negated by better level design and the ability to turn into different animals with different physics models, but here – especially with the flick-screen, rather than scrolling, vertical movement – it’s crippling.

Then there’s the bosses, which are repeated (with very minor differences), and are all incredibly easy. In addition, you have to complete the whole game in under an hour in order to “win” properly. And the name! Oh my, what a terrible name for a game.

It’s a shame I didn’t enjoy it due to how flawed it is, but it’s still interesting to see how they improved so many things for the follow-up titles.

NES Remix (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Much_too_hard.I’ll say now that I don’t have all 600 (I presume) stars. I also don’t have all of all the stars for the Remix I, II and Bonus Modes. I definitely don’t have all the Three Rainbow Gold Stars for everything either. However, I consider the game completed and everything left is “extra content”.

tumblr_n0quqzdpcy1svmpf2o1_1280No, that’s not a cop-out either. I have managed to 3-star all of all the individual game challenges, netting me a gold frame around each title screen. I even managed to 3-rainbow-star one of the games. I’ve also managed to get at least 2 stars for each game on Remix I, and 2 or 3 stars on all bar one challenge on Remix II. Importantly, I passed the credits screen after finishing Remix I so technically I finished the game there, I suppose.

Haha__No.There’s only Bonus that I’m missing some challenges on. Most of them are because they’re not yet unlocked (I have 551 stars, and the next challenge unlocks at 560), but two are because they’re impossible. Namely the “beat an invisible opponent” Tennis one (it’s not hard because he’s invisible, it’s hard because aiming is impossible), and the “get a hole in one” Golf one – I can’t even get it on the green, never mind in the hole.

So while I’m sure I’ll attempt and reattempt some of the as-yet not 3-starred challenges, for now I’m calling the game completed. I’m certainly not going to try and get rainbow stars for everything, that’s ridiculous.

NES Remix (Wii U)

Scratch_that._You_just_hammer_the_A_button.I turned my Wii U on to play Super Mario 3D World Woohoo Meeeoow (as it’s called on the title screen) but loaded this instead.

Some of the challenges are getting sillyhard now. I mainly did Super Mario Bros ones, and one of them involves beating all the bosses, another that required you to beat all the bosses with a fireflower (which is actually much more difficult), and another that I’m stuck on where you have to collect all the coins in several sections of levels very quickly. One of the sections is from a later underwater level and it’s full of bloopers and cheep cheeps and fire bars and PANIC.

In other news, Baseball is rubbish.

NES Remix (Wii U)

Luigi_is_the_Nega-Mario.__scottpilgrimWell this was a lovely surprise from Nintendo. No idea it was coming at all, and then suddenly at the end of last week’s Nintendo Direct, Iwata went all Apple and said “Take a look at this…” and “It’s available now!”.

There used to be a game called Game Centre Challenge, which had longer-than-Wario-Ware but still short challenges based on retro games. Except those retro games didn’t actually exist – they were fake retro styled titles. This is real, with real NES games replacing the not-real NES game clones. And, I believe, it’s by the same developers.

You’re given a set of NES titles, broken down into short challenges. Like, collect 20 coins in Mario before the time runs out. Or smash 5 barrels in Donkey Kong. Or beat the first boss in Zelda without losing any health. You’re rated up to three stars depending on how fast and well you manage this, and as you gain stars you unlock more games and challenges.

In addition to the breakdown of old games into what is essentially boot camp for game skills, there are various remix levels which make things different. Like, how about playing Mario like an endless runner? Or Ice Climber with just a spot of light following you, while everywhere else is dark? Or Pinball with invisible flippers? Or Donkey Kong as Link instead of Mario – and Link can’t jump?

Also as you play, you get some sort of score called B. I’m sure it’s a reference to a game but I can’t recall which. The symbol is like that for Bitcoins so I’ve been assuming it’s that. Every thousand or so B you obtain, you unlock stamps of characters and other sprites from the games, which you can use in Miiverse to make hilarious (well, mine are hilarious) pictures. I’ve found unlocking these stamps to be more of a draw to play the game than the stars, actually.

I’ve heard there are about 200 challenges in total, so 600 stars up for grabs. I have just 250 so far, but I do have 3 for most of the challenges I’ve attempted. I’ve not got that many Rainbow Stars (for being even better than 3 stars), although I have fully Rainbow Starred all the Pinball challenges.