Video Game Review: Jackal (NES)

Jackal is one of those underrated gems that gets overshadowed by other Konami releases for the original Nintendo.

Sadly, the Konami Code didn’t give you 30 lives like Contra or Life Force, or even 10 like Super C. But despite not having an easy hack, it was a game that I, and my friends, would often times play for hours.

It’s just simple and fun and it makes me miss the simplicity of ’80s action games.

You just play as a jeep that works its way through the map vertically, killing all the baddies and rescuing all the POWs you can. Each level has a helipad where you can drop the surviving POWs off before moving on to a big boss battle.

All the boss battles in this are also pretty solid but Konami were damn good at creating boss battles across the board from this game, the Contra games, Life ForceMetal GearRush’n Attack, etc.

In the end, this is a cool game that probably deserves more love and definitely should have had a sequel or multiple sequels.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other NES Konami games like the Contra series, the Metal Gear series, Rush’n Attack, etc.

Video Game Review: Batman (NES)

This game came out in early 1990. In fact, I got it for Easter that year, which made me extremely happy and lead to me playing the crap out of this game for weeks on end.

It was made to tie-in to the 1989 Batman movie but the game has a lot of original stuff in it.

For one, it has more villains than just Jack Nicholson’s Joker. It also features a high tech version of Killer Moth, the Electrocutioner, as well as minor DC Comics baddie, Firebug.

The game also features two other boss battles with super computers.

All that being said, while the framework of the story follows the movie’s plot, the game really goes in its own creative direction and has a sort of futuristic cyberpunk vibe between killer robots, killer computers and all types of other high tech things. The entirety of Level 4 feels like you are inside a massive super computer.

That being said, I always kind of dug this take on the Batman ’89 universe. I think that the game designers may have been somewhat inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

My only issue with the game is that the mechanics are a bit clunky, especially in regards to jumping from wall-to-wall. You do adapt to it and after playing this for awhile, the mechanics almost become second nature.

In fact, the game is kind of a breeze until the final level, which is the giant, towering cathedral from the ’89 film’s climax. Except this version isn’t mostly empty minus three thugs and the Joker. This version is full of flamethrower troops, killer machines and an infuriating boss in the form of Firebug. After all that, hopefully you’ve got enough health to take on the Joker.

I can’t say that this game has aged particularly well but it is still a really fun game from its era. It reminds me a lot of Ninja Gaiden but less frustrating.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Batman games for the NES, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

Video Game Review: Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

Super Mario Bros. 3 is considered the perfect Mario game by some of the old school Nintendo Entertainment System purists. They’re wrong though, as I’m that asshole that prefer Mario 2 but yes, this is still a damn fine game that is one of the best of its era.

What makes this entry into the series special is that it evolves the mechanics greatly.

Now you don’t just have a flaming power flower to make you a badass, you can now turn into a flying raccoon thing, a frog, a friggin’ boot and a bunch of other shit!

Additionally, this has some of the best level design out of all the Mario games in history.

Playing through it this time, I didn’t warp, instead, I went through every single level in order to relish in the game’s design and to properly review it.

As much as I love Super Mario 2, I have to say, that this game has better level design, overall. Granted, a few of them were kind of infuriating and took me some time to figure out. But I still had a blast replaying this.

But yes, even though it’s been a long time since I fired this up, I still prefer the second game. But I can appreciate both, as well as the original too.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: pretty much all Super Mario Bros. games.

Video Game Review: Mega Man VI (NES)

Mega Man VI is the last of the Mega Man games released for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Coming off of the fifth game, which ended up becoming my favorite of the series, I had really high hopes for this one.

Sadly, while still a fine entry in the series, it doesn’t build off of the great precedent set before it and it just plays more like a rehash of most of the stuff we’ve experienced before it.

I didn’t find any of the bosses to be that original or challenging and even the fortress bosses were fairly easy to beat.

This also lacks in level design but its predecessor was so innovative in how it used its environment that it may have set the bar too high for an immediate followup.

The only interesting thing about the level design is that the maps split in places and you could enter the bosses’ battle chambers on different levels of the stage. Well, not the same battle chamber, many levels had multiple, it just depended upon which part of the map you were on when you entered, as to which version you’d get.

I actually played through a few levels multiple times to see if the battle chambers differed and they did. But its just minor background cosmetic stuff.

But I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining too much.

The fact is, every single Mega Man game for the NES is a great game. This one just lacked any worthwhile tweaks or additions to the franchise but it was still a blast to play and still worthy of the Mega Man name.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: all the other Mega Man games for the NES.

Video Game Review: The Goonies II (NES)

After recently playing through the first Goonies game for the original Nintendo, I wanted to revisit Goonies II, which I thought was the only Goonies game when I was a kid. I just assumed the title implied that the game was a direct sequel to the movie, since it had a different plot altogether.

This should have been a better game than its predecessor and it had a lot of new additions that certainly gave it more potential. However, it’s bogged down by some things that made me enjoy it less.

To start, the game is literally a f’n maze! While it’s easy to work through as you progress to new areas, it becomes a bit of a clusterfuck when you are forced to backtrack to previous locations to revisit certain rooms you couldn’t access until getting specific items later in the game. While this is something that is common in video games, they could’ve made it easier to return to previous areas instead of trying to remember your way back through the overly complex level design.

Also, the graphics seem like a step down. They aren’t too dissimilar from the previous Goonies game so maybe it is the weird color choices that bother me like Mikey having hot pink pants and hair.

Other than all that, this is still a fun game to play and there is a lot to explore.

I kind of wish that this would’ve spawned a video game series that still released stuff on later consoles because these games had the makings of a cool franchise that sadly, didn’t grow beyond this entry.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the first Goonies game for the NES.

Video Game Review: Mega Man V (NES)

I barely remember playing Mega ManIV thru VI but I know that I did play them and that I beat them back when they were current.

I’ve got to say, it’s kind of a crime that I didn’t play the hell out of this game like I did II and III, as it is pretty incredible and honestly, this is my favorite game of the lot. That might change after I revisit Mega Man VI though.

To start, this game has the best level design of the series, as far as the classic Nintendo releases go. Most levels were cool and imaginative with things that made them feel fresh.

Some examples are Charge Man’s level, which puts you on top and inside of a moving train. Then there is the Gravity Man level where the actual gravity switches throughout the level and you move from the floor to the ceiling while trying to evade enemies and pitfalls. My favorite level though would have to be Wave Man’s, as it introduces a lot of cool environmental things like steam pipes you travel through, bubbles that act as elevators and a jet ski battle sequence.

Additionally, the bosses here actually provided some good challenges that felt unique and not like rehashes of boss battles you’ve had before. Stone Man I found to be especially hard for a Mega Man boss robot.

On top of that, all of the bosses in the final fortresses were also a lot of fun to fight.

Honestly, this game had everything I loved about the previous installments while reinventing the wheel a bit and giving us some new, cool features.

That being said, this is now my favorite game of the six classic NES Mega Man titles.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: all the other Mega Man games for the NES.

Video Game Review: Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)

Most people think that Super Mario Bros. 3 is the best game of the original Nintendo Super Mario trilogy. They’re wrong. This is the best game, period.

Now I know that my opinion is a controversial one and I also know that this wasn’t originally a Super Mario game and that it was retrofitted to include Mario because the original Japanese sequel was deemed too hard for American players. I don’t care though, as this is the game that I played the most out of the three American games and I thought it was the most imaginative and cool.

Because this wasn’t a “real” Mario game it is vastly different than the other two in the series. It has a completely different looking world, different types of enemies and the gameplay style is pretty unique, even if it is a simple side scroller like the other games in the series.

This was the first game that allowed you to pick up objects and use them as weapons. This mechanic would then become a regular feature of all the major Super Mario games after this one.

Overall, I think that the visual style of the game appeals to me. It takes place in a dream world and the game successfully captures a dreamlike aesthetic.

I think the thing I like most about the game is its mechanics though. The controls are superb, the movement and motion of the sprites is perfection for the 8-bit era and it just feels like a game that exists on another level for the time of its existence.

Yes, the other Super Mario games for the NES are also classics. But this is the one that speaks to me the loudest and that I find myself revisiting the most.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: pretty much all Super Mario Bros. games.