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.

Mega-lo-Mania (MD): COMPLETED!

I realised today that I hadn’t completed Mega-lo-Mania this year and the year was almost up, so thought I’d better do it! I picked up my RetroFlag GPi again (it’s the best way to play, although apparently it’s coming to the Evercade in a few months!) and once more, beat The Best Game, this time as Caesar.

Only! This! Time!

Not only was I not the only person with people for the final battle, I had TWO opponents! Both of whom I thrashed within seconds. Ah well.

Look! Look! Both Scarlet and Madcap made it to the final level! Unprecedented.

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.

Treasure Island Dizzy (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Ah, I know how to play this, i thought. I would surely be able to remember the puzzles. Since I’d played it a lot on the Spectrum back in the day, right? Wrong.

Because this, which is the NES version, is different! Sure, it’s similar to what I remember – although it would appear I don’t remember much of the specifics anyway – but there are different puzzles and items! It’s like a new game.

Fortunately, it also appeared to be easier than the original Spectrum version too. Yes, you still only have the one life (and I did use save states, sparingly, to avoid having to replay all the puzzles again), but somehow the solutions were more obvious. Maybe it’s just because I’m An Adult now and my brain works better?

Anyway, after finishing it with 27 of the 30 coins needed for the slightly better ending, I spent ages looking for the missing three. In the end I had to look up two of them, as it seems the bees aren’t baddies that kill you after all – two of them give you coins, Tch.

Power Factor (Evercade): COMPLETED!

I got an Evercade for Christmas, and this – originally an Atari Lynx game – was the first title I completed. Not sure why I chose it, but a brief play as I was running through the various games hooked me a little and soon I’d finished it.

It’s a platform shooter, except you don’t jump much as you have a jetpack. Across about 15 levels, all of which feel exactly the same, you have to find elements of a bomb, then find the exit, then beat a boss, then move on.

Although it isn’t really very hard, it’s pretty frustrating as your gun is less effective than a water pistol and even the most basic of enemies need a million shots to destroy, let alone the bosses. You get extra weapons but each only allows a handful of uses, and they don’t carry from level to boss so you can’t even hoard them.

Still, as Lynx games go (damning with faint praise), it’s not bad.

Castlevania (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, the original NES game, here in the Castlevania Collection on the Switch. And oh my was it harder than I remember. Mainly the medusa heads in the later levels.

It’s still a great game, and having played other NES platformers this year so many of them just don’t play well these days – and they’re all the bloody same. But not this one!

Super Mario 64 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, I have played and completed this before. A fair few times too. But! This is the Switch version, on the Super Mario 3D All-Stars pack that recently came out, where the game is (slightly) upscaled, (slightly) less blurry, and with a nicer looking HUD and font.

I’ve said before that Super Mario 64 is one of the best games ever made. It sits comfortably in my Top 5, and was probably at Number Two (after Run Baby Run of course!) until HYRULE WARRIORS appeared. But it’s the Best Mario. And it’s still The Best Mario and it’s still perfect.

Some will moan they haven’t made it widescreen. Some will complain there are camera issues. Some will suggest that a handful of star locations have far too cryptic clues. Some people are wrong. None of these things matter when you’re flinging Mario around some of the best designed 3D worlds in any video game, not just Mario games. It’s fun, it’s clever, it’s inventive and it’s going to be the best title on this collection even though I’ve not (re)played Sunshine or Galaxy yet.

I have about 80 stars, I’ve beaten Bowser, and I will return for the rest but for now, I’m moving on to Sunshine…

Super Mario Bros 3 (Switch): COMPLETED!

This too was the All-Stars version of the game, and like the All-Stars version of the original Super Mario Bros, it still looks fantastic today.

I used some warp pipes, but did play through more levels than just the bare minimum. I got lost a lot on World 8 and seemed to go round in circles on the map, so I obviously don’t remember it as well as I thought I did.

Bowser was a lot easier than I remember as well. I was sure there was more to him after you make him fall through the floor but apparently not. It makes him one of the easiest bosses in the game! Except Boom-Boom but then that’s because you have to fight him over a million times.

Super Mario Bros (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, I’ve completed Super Mario Bros yet again. But this time it was, at least, different in that I played the Super Mario All-Stars version rather than the original as it appeared on the Switch Online service this week. It’s still excellent, and the 25-year-old “new” graphics still look amazing even now.

And yes, I used warps. Because why would you not when they’re part of the game, eh?

Ichidant-R (Switch): COMPLETED!

I had a copy of 2do Arukotoha Sand-R on the Sega Saturn many years ago. It was, pretty much, the same sort of game as WarioWare or Bishi Bashi although I played it before I’d even heard of them. Being all in Japanese, the mini-games that needed instructions were somewhat more difficult than they’d normally be, and I remember one, where you had to choose a fish, being completely baffling. I never managed it.

Anyway, imagine my surprise when years later I discovered that game was one of a series of games – one of which is this: Ichidant-R. It recently came to the Switch as one of the Sega Ages line and so of course I bought it.

And yes, it’s very much like the Saturn game. I even recognise a few of the games, although I suspect they’re similar rather than the same. There is a fish one, but it isn’t like the one I could never do, and all the instructions are in English anyway.

I played through the whole thing in one sitting, which was admittedly only an hour or two, but then it’s an arcade game so I wasn’t expecting Skyrim or anything. It’s fun, but could do with a few more games as the same ones come round – albeit harder – a bit too often. But, it is gloriously wacky and surreal and brings back fond memories of the impossible Saturn follow-up, so I did very much enjoy it.

Dynamite Headdy (Switch): COMPLETED!

Even though I own three copies of this, or perhaps even more, and it had great reviews at the time, AND I like Treasure’s games, it surprises me that I’ve never played it past the first level or two. It wasn’t because it was hard (it wasn’t, but… see later), or I didn’t enjoy it, so who knows.

Only this time, while flicking through the Mega Drive Collection on my Switch for something to play, it caught my eye and before you know it (about three hours) I’d completed it. But oh my was I wrong about it being easy. That was only for the first half of the game – after that, it really ramped up the difficulty.

Shoot the baby! (Don’t shoot the baby). No really, shoot the baby.

Particular Highlights of Hell include the side scrolling shooter sections, especially the one where you have to weave up and down a fast moving corridor, the boss that chases you and definitely a cat not a bear Trouble Bruin, and the Gatekeeper. The Gatekeeper in particular, as there’s a split second when he’s vulnerable and if you’re a pixel too close or far away and don’t attack exactly correctly and run away in that tiny window of opportunity, you get hit.

So yes, I used save states. Which was justified when I found out later that the Western version (which I played) is at least twice as hard as the Japanese one.

Hardest boss ever.

But, I did really enjoy it. It looks and plays great, and has a wide variety of levels and bosses and loads of clever hardware-pushing effects that even the SNES’s Mode 7 would be impressed by.

Bio Menace (Mac): COMPLETED!

I have no idea why I decided to play this. I have very little interest in the Apogee same-game-slightly-different-graphics PC games of the early 90s (see also Commander Keen and Duke Nukem) and I know from experience they’ve aged badly. And yet here we are.

It’s pretty boring. There’s a lot of backtracking as you often have to get to the other side of the level to get the key to open the exit which is right near the start. There are a number of sections where avoiding baddies is nearly impossible. The bosses are a walkover. It has terrible sound and jerky scrolling. It’s not a very good game.

But I completed it (all of it – there are three chapters that come as separate games) so maybe I did like it a bit? Nah.

Decap Attack (Switch): COMPLETED!

One of my favourite platformers and a game I’ve probably mentioned on here before. We all know how this is the western version of Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure, but both games are excellent if different.

Didn’t have any problems on my play through. I didn’t remember all the level layouts, but did remember the route to skip one of the bosses!