Video Game Review: Castlevania: Bloodlines (Sega Genesis)

Who doesn’t love Castlevania games?

I’ve played almost all of them up until the late ’00s. Yet, I never got around to playing Bloodlines, which is actually kind of strange, as I owned a Sega Genesis and rented games for it all the damn time.

This was cool to check out now, though.

This plays just like all the other Castlevania games before it, well… excluding Simon’s Quest, as that one was a breed all its own.

Anyway, this plays a lot like the first and third games for the original Nintendo. You work your way through levels, you fight all sorts of monstrosities and you usually get the shit kicked out of you because Castlevania games tend to be hard as shit, even for those of us who have played them pretty steadily over the course of our lives.

For the most part, this Castlevania game is a lot of fun. I like that you have two characters to choose from but if I’m being honest, just pick the dude with the whip because playing a Castlevania game without a whip is like playing a different game entirely. Unless, you’re Alucard and you can transform into cool shit and have a lightning fast rapier. But this game doesn’t have Alucard as a playable character, so just take the whip dude.

This game is also set further into the future and the characters have a lineage to characters of the past. Hence, the name Bloodlines.

Still, the world looks about the same and it doesn’t really matter which century this take place in.

Now I didn’t beat this game. I think I got pretty far but man, this game will crush your ass. I especially had a lot of frustration on the level with the rising water and then having to kill that level’s boss without drowning. That’s the one spot where I really got hung up, lost a lot of lives and blew through too many continues.

Despite my difficulty, this is still a solid game and it was more fun than frustrating.

It has fluid gameplay, looks superb and boasts a great soundtrack.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: The original Castlevania trilogy for NES, Super Castlevania IV for SNES, the Gameboy Castlevania games, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (also known as Dracula X) and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the original PlayStation.

Video Game Review: Dead Angle (Sega Master System)

Dead Angle for the Sega Master System is an okay game for its time.

Basically, it’s a side scrolling shooter where your character is a transparent wire frame with his back to you, similar to the arcade versions of Punch-Out!!

You scroll through each level, shooting gangsters while trying not to get hit.

I found the controls to be really wonky and this isn’t an easy game to play because of that. Maybe it requires a lot more practice but the repetitiveness of the game didn’t really inspire me to put in a lot of hours. I only really played this for twenty minutes before giving up on it.

The game would have benefited from being an actual shooter with a light gun. However, I guess it would’ve had to have found an alternative way of letting the player get damaged. Considering that the Sega Master System had its own light gun, similar to its main competitor Nintendo, I’m surprised that this game didn’t take advantage of that accessory.

Again, this is an okay game but there isn’t much here to keep one’s interest beyond general curiosity.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: The Punisher for the original Nintendo and other side scrolling action shooters.

Video Game Review: ALF (Sega Master System)

This was a disappointment.

I was glad to finally have access to the Sega Master System via a RetroPie machine. When I saw that there was an ALF game for it, I had to power it up and go for the gusto!

To be blunt, this game fucking sucks.

You play as ALF. Initially, I thought I was supposed to pick up cats. Although, I’m not sure if you save them to eat them later or what the deal is. But the game goes deeper than that and the cats don’t seem that important.

You also have to dodge these perverts dressed like Buttons McBoomBoom from C.O.P.S. They are walking around slowly, hands stretched out like they’re trying to grab boobies and if they touch you, you’re instantaneously dead. However, they don’t have to even touch you. They just have to be close. But that makes the mechanics of the game infuriating as you can’t whisk by them or jump over them. It’s like they have ghost tentacles with instant death poison.

Additionally, you get out of the house and take to the streets. The game sort of becomes a side scrolling Frogger in that you have to move around traffic. However, like the perverts, the vehicles don’t have to actually touch you, they just need to be close. So the game becomes even more infuriating.

On the positive side, I thought that the graphics were good for the time. But that’s about the only real positive.

I’d rather eat a whole tray of school lunch pizza than have to play this again.

Rating: 2.25/10
Pairs well with: other poorly crafted and executed 8-bit games based on intellectual properties that were just looking for a quick buck from ’80s and ’90s kids.

Video Game Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time (Arcade)

Being that the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game was nearly perfect, I wanted to play the arcade version of its sequel.

Now I have played Turtles In Time before but it was always the version for home consoles and not its superior arcade counterpart.

This was a blast to playthrough though, as it plays just like its predecessor. The controllers and look of the game are the same and the only real difference is that this comes with new levels, new bosses and the time travel element thrown in. If anything, it’s an expansion of the great first game.

My only real complaint is that the boss battles in this one weren’t as good or as memorable as the first game. I missed beating up on the more popular baddies, as this chapter gives us mostly second and third tier Turtles villains.

However, the final boss fights were a lot of fun. The battle with Krang felt fresh and new and not just a rehash of what was done in the previous installment. Also, the final fight with Shredder was more challenging and the cherry on top of this superb banana split of awesomeness.

Overall, I liked this one less than the first game. However, it is a solid compliment to it and it kept things fresh enough to allow it to stand on its own as a worthy side scrolling beat’em up.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game.

Video Game Review: Halloween (Atari 2600)

I never knew there was an Atari 2600 game based on John Carpenter’s Halloween. That could be due to the age I was when this would’ve come out but it’s surprising that I still never got wind of it over the years.

Like most Atari 2600 games, it’s pretty basic. But that’s not a bad thing, as this game is at least really amusing and surprisingly violent and comical.

You play as Laurie Strode (I’m assuming) and you need to evade Michael Myers while trying to save Tommy Doyle (or some other little brat). If Michael catches the kid, the little shit is stabbed to death. If Michael catches Laurie, he decapitates her, which leads to her running around headless with blood spurting from her neck stump.

It’s pretty nutty that this was a mainstream video game and probably sold to kids. However, ’80s kids weren’t pussies and video games didn’t have fascist ass ratings back then. Also, life was better and people weren’t so miserable and overly sensitive.

Anyway, that’s about all there is to do in the game. But it’s still a cool game to mess around with.

Also, the 4-bit Halloween theme is badass.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other old school horror movie video games like the original Nintendo’s Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street.

Video Game Review: Final Fantasy (NES)

I’ve got to say, Final Fantasy didn’t start off with a bang. At least not in the same way that the Dragon Quest franchise did.

While this is a pretty damn good 8-bit RPG, it seems like it’s really lacking when compared to the first Dragon Quest a.k.a. Dragon Warrior.

Now this does benefit from having a party and not just playing as a sole character. However, managing the party is kind of tedious and cumbersome. It’s not clear which character types are more beneficial and which combos work best. But there are a good amount of options. The only problem, is once you choose your party, you’re locked in.

Additionally, the game design isn’t that great. Everything looks like a basic and watered down version of the original Nintendo Dragon Warrior games. It lacks color, vibrancy and is kind of dull after playing through four Dragon Warrior games in a row.

Also, you have to grind like a MFer. It’s not really clear what levels you need to be at, as you advance, but sometimes you beat a section really easy and then the next portion of the game can have an extreme jump in difficulty.

In the end, it comes down to fun factor and time invested. This wasn’t as fun for me as the Dragon Warrior games, which I also preferred as a kid. Also, this took a lot of time to complete and most of that was spent grinding, which really put a halt on the momentum of the story and my enthusiasm in trying to complete it.

However, this is the first game of many and like Dragon Quest, each chapter would improve things and become better balanced.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other early Final Fantasy games and the superior Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest games of the era.

Video Game Review: Gauntlet II (Arcade)

From memory, Gauntlet II was just more of the same in regards to how it plays when compared to its predecessor. However, having now played both of the games in their original arcade versions, I can say that they aren’t exactly the same and that this one improves over the first one.

The level design in Gauntlet II is fantastic and a lot more maze-like than the original. Also, there is more visual flair in the designs with stunningly vibrant colors, as well as new kinds of walls and floor tiles. Playing this just after the first game really shows you how much this one has stepped forward in its overall look and style.

The game also seems to have more diverse groups of enemies to swarm you. Everything is almost the same regarding enemy types but they seem to be mixed up better. Instead of levels that are primarily ghosts, you now have ghosts, demons and trolls all coming at you from multiple spots in pretty close quarters.

If anything, this one was definitely a quarter thief.

I think the addition I liked most was the dragons. Every half dozen levels or so, you will encounter a pretty large, fire spitting dragon. They do massive damage but they also add a whole new level of coolness to the proceedings.

Gauntlet II is everything the original game was and then some. It’s a shit ton of fun and thankfully, I don’t have to dump actual quarters in it anymore.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the original Gauntlet and then the later sequels.