Video Game Review: Balloon Fight (NES)

I vaguely remember Balloon Fight from my childhood, as I never owned it and it was one of those games your friends’ would have but you’d pass it up in favor of Castlevania or Zelda.

It’s pretty fun, though, and it feels a lot like Joust but with balloons attached to the characters and more environmental dangers.

Also, each level gives you a fresh new layout, so that you’re not playing the same screen over and over again.

While I don’t enjoy it as much as Joust, it is an improvement in design with the same general concept and playing style. However, it’s mostly a slower paced game. But don’t be fooled, as the lack of speed can also work against you in that it can be really hard trying to traverse yourself out of a real pickle.

The game isn’t complicated, it should probably appeal to all ages and skill levels and it’s a good way to kill twenty minutes.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Joust, the original Mario Bros., Solomon’s Key, Fire ‘n Ice and other 4-bit/8-bit era single screen action/puzzle games.

Video Game Review: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Ubisoft Version (NES)

I’m going to start this review with a really bold statement: this is the worst game that I have played on the original Nintendo.

It surpasses the awfulness of Conan the Barbarian and Bible Adventures. This game truly takes the cake in its awfulness, from top to bottom.

To start, it’s the clunkiest fucking game I have ever played from the 8-bit era. It barely functions, the mechanics are horrendous and it caused me to lose about 30 percent of my remaining hair.

Just when I thought that Indiana Jones games for the NES couldn’t get any worse than the Taito version of Last Crusade, I decided to give this one a shot, hoping it’d be an improvement over that other piece of shit with the same title.

This also boasts some of the worst graphics I’ve ever seen from the terrible sprites, basic as fuck environments, boring colors and complete static backgrounds in scenes that need to convey motion (like the train level).

All in all, this is the worst game I’ve played out of all the ones I have reviewed for this site.

Rating: 0/10
Pairs well with: a ghost pepper juice enema.

Video Game Review: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Taito Version (NES)

Having recently revisited the original Nintendo port of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, I felt the urge to revisit the first version of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Yes, I said first version, as there was also a second game released by another developer a few years later.

I don’t actually remember playing the one that was made by Ubisoft but I distinctly remember this Taito game and how frustrating it was.

Playing it now, it’s still frustrating and maybe even more so.

The controls are shit. Total shit. The in-game mechanics are wonky and terrible. Controlling Indiana Jones is like controlling an elderly person with a walker that can do awkward, seldomly landing, Taekwondo kicks.

The game itself is fairly easy but the stage with the Austrian castle is one of the worst designed and laid out levels of the 8-bit era. It’s a confusing clusterfuck where if you don’t know where you need to go, which you won’t, you just get your ass destroyed by Nazi soldiers waiting behind just about every door. It’s like a maze that punches you in the face at every turn, whether you take the right one or the wrong one.

Some of the levels could have been cool if this were made by better designers. The film it’s based on is one of the greatest adventure movies of all-time and provides a great number of action sequences that could’ve made for a really awesome game.

Instead, we got this clunky bag of shit.

Rating: 2.5/10
Pairs well with: pooping… but the runny, messy, unpleasant kind.

Video Game Review: Fire ‘n Ice (NES)

I never knew there was a sequel (or I guess prequel) to Solomon’s Key. In fact, I just discovered this while researching some of the background on the original game when I reviewed it recently.

Being that I love Solomon’s Key, I had to give the prequel a try.

At first, I didn’t like this. I would have preferred a game with the same gameplay as the previous one but with new levels and challenges.

The gameplay here is similar, but instead of creating regular blocks, you now create ice blocks and have to use them to defeat monsters, usually flames, and to figure your way through the mini labyrinth that is each stage.

My only issue is that you can’t create blocks level to the player like in Solomon’s Key, now they can only be created a level beneath you. So making blocks to climb like steps isn’t an option.

However, the more I played this, the more the physics of it started to click in my brain and I actually enjoyed it. Even if I got to a point where I was hung up, eventually I’d work through the solution and figure it out.

Well, until I got to level 7-10, where there was an ice platform blocking my path and there was no way around it. I ended up watching a video of someone else playing the level and they didn’t have the same issue, so I’m not sure if I’m missing a piece to the puzzle but that’s the point where I got stuck.

Despite that, this is still a pretty good puzzle game from the 8-bit era. I had hours of fun up until I got trapped. But had I bought this, I don’t think I would’ve had buyer’s remorse.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Solomon’s Key, as well as Monster Rancher Explorer.

Video Game Review: BurgerTime (Arcade)

BurgerTime is a pretty simple early ’80s arcade game that got ported to just about every computer and console during its heyday.

But it was deserving of that, as it’s a great time waster and a lot of fun, even if it can get frustrating with evil food minions trying to hunt you down. Although, if sausages and eggs were chasing me, I’d grab a fork and knife.

Anyway, at its core, BurgerTime is a simple puzzle game. You play a chef and you run up and down ladders and across platforms that hang on to different layers of a burger. The object, is to knock down each layer and build burgers out of them.

The layouts change with each level and the difficulty increases as you move through the game. Levels get more complex and enemies get faster.

While a lot of similar games have come and gone and are long since forgotten about, BurgerTime is well designed and, in my opinion, has successfully stood the test of time as a solid, action packed puzzle game that never gets old is still worthy of revisiting every now and again.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: Peter Pepper’s Ice Cream Factory, Super BurgerTime and Diner.

 

Video Game Review: Solomon’s Key (NES)

There aren’t any other puzzle games that I enjoy as much as Solomon’s Key.

I think that has to do with the fact that this is also an action game, with monsters of all sorts and it takes place in a cool setting.

This game is challenging as hell and I never could beat it as a kid. It wasn’t until I was an adult and playing this on emulators that I was able to really dedicate the time that the game needs to complete it.

The main reason for that is because emulators have save states and thus, allow me to save whenever I want so that I can come back and play through the game at my own pace in more than one really long sitting.

Solomon’s Key is still a damn fine challenge, regardless of how many times you play through it. It doesn’t just require you to solve the puzzle of each room but it also requires you to act quickly and to time your movements.

This is a game that has stood the test of time and I still find myself coming back to it at least once per year.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: its prequel Fire ‘n Ice a.k.a. Solomon’s Key 2, as well as Monster Rancher Explorer.

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.