Video Game Review: RoboCop (Arcade)

I used to love the hell out of this game whenever I’d see its cabinet glowing in the corner of my local arcade. I used to pump quarters into this thing like an old lady at a slot machine in Circus Circus. But I remember dropping serious coin and never being able to get very far.

Now that I can run this on MAME, I have infinite quarters, so I wanted to revisit it and play it all the way through.

I’ve got to say, this game is a beast. And I don’t mean that complimentary. Maybe there is a difficulty setting I can alter on MAME but you get overwhelmed by enemies and killed pretty damn quickly. It’s amazing how quick you get overwhelmed and really early in the game. Sure, I can keep continuing and I did but you only get one life and the continue screen freezes the gameplay action, bogging down the gameplay flow and your momentum. It’s kind of tedious, actually.

And hell, it’s been nearly three decade since I’ve played this and I could just suck really bad at it. But this era of arcade games are my cup of tea and I’m a pretty good player in most cases.

I still love the graphics and the game runs smooth as hell. The real high point is the music and the sound effects, which are top notch for this game’s generation.

It could have gotten more creative with boss battles, as you fight ED-209s a half dozen times and even fight two at the same time towards the end.

This isn’t too dissimilar from the Nintendo RoboCop game but it is harder and the levels feel more repetitious than its NES counterpart. For instance, for those familiar with the NES game, the City Hall level isn’t in this version.

All in all, this was fun to revisit but it’s insane difficulty made it a chore after the first ten minutes.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling shooters from the era.

Video Game Review: Metroid (NES)

When people talk about bonafide NES classics, Metroid is always near the top of everyone’s list and rightfully so. It’s a superb, lengthy game in an era where lengthy games didn’t really exist. In fact, this one was so lengthy that it needed a code system to allow players to pick up where they left off.

Back in 1987, this took my cousin Billy and I a few months to crack. Granted, we were also eight years-old, at the time, and had to go to elementary school full-time. We didn’t have the luxury of modern gamers, plucking away for days and days, calling off shifts at work because the obsession is more important than responsibility.

This game still plays well, especially for those of us who never quite quit playing classic Nintendo titles.

It’s fun, it’s hard and it has one of the most kick ass soundtracks of its era.

The game also spawned a franchise with many solid sequels. However, this one is still the greatest of them all, in my opinion. I never had a Super Nintendo, so I didn’t spend too much time playing Super Metroid and the Gameboy’s Metroid II was also fantastic but this one takes the cake, as far as I’m concerned.

But maybe I’ll give Super Metroid a playthrough in the near future.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling action games for the classic Nintendo, which narrows it down to about 8 dozen games.

Video Game Review: Contra (NES)

What’s cooler than a badass 8-bit shoot’em up 2D side scroller from the ’80s? How about a badass 8-bit shoot’em up 2D side scroller that also goes vertical and throws a couple pseudo 3D dungeons into the mix?

Plus, this has pretty cool boss battles with bosses that look badass. And for something that just involves running, gunning and jumping, the game’s design doesn’t make it feel repetitive.

Konami were most definitely on their A-game in the ’80s, especially in the coin-op arcade market. This was originally an arcade game but it’s this port to the original Nintendo Entertainment System that is most remembered. In fact, I’d say that this game was beloved by a generation and for good reason.

The NES version is well designed, performs great and it runs pretty damn smoothly. Also, the controls are very good, as are the in-game physics. I also dig the hell out of the game’s music.

I love Contra and even if it is near impossible to beat without the infamous Konami Code, I would play through this game multiple times in a row, as a kid.

In 2019, this is still one of my favorite classic NES games to fire up on my emulator. I still play this thing at least once a month.

Plus, Contra evolved into a series with sequels that were also pretty good. Maybe not as iconic, but each entry brought something new to the series.

But it is this one, the original, that still stands tall and is, frankly, one of the best Nintendo games ever made.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling action games for the classic Nintendo, which narrows it down to about 8 dozen games.

Video Game Review: Blaster Master (NES)

Blaster Master is one of those games that I play, time and time again, wishing that it would be better than it actually is because there is just something really cool about it.

The game was really damn unique for the time in that there are different gameplay modes.

First, you get to drive around in this sweet vehicle that shoots and jumps. The jumping feature is simply badass and you can actually change direction mid-jump.

Second, you get to leave the vehicle and run around as a little dude with a blaster. This is so that you can reach areas that your little battle buggy can’t.

Third, as the little dude, you can enter dungeons. Once there, you play in a bird’s-eye-view mode, as you walk around and blast shit, going through mazes and looking for a boss to fight.

The game is creative and the extra layers of gameplay are what makes this a memorable experience when compared to other games from this generation.

However, the novelty and coolness start to wear off due to the controls. The controls in this game are shit and it makes an already difficult game, more difficult than it needs to be. You do adapt to the controls with more gameplay but they never really feel like they’re fluid.

And yes, the game is already pretty hard. Granted, lots of NES games are hard by modern standards where just about every game gives you difficulty options and can be beaten if you just keep playing. But this seems hard even for regular NES standards.

But I still like firing this up every now and again because it’s such a great concept. It just wasn’t executed as well as it could have been.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling action games for the classic Nintendo, which narrows it down to about 8 dozen games.

Video Game Review: Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (PlayStation 2)

I used to play the shit out of this game over 15 years ago when it came out on the Nintendo Gamecube around the same time as Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. This time around, I played the PS2 version, as it was available for download on my PS4.

I’ve wanted to revisit this for quite some time, as it was one of my favorite Star Wars games of all-time and is far superior to the film it was tied to in both story and execution.

Surprisingly, despite the wonky controls, this has held up pretty damn well. Plus, once you play it for a bit, the control issues are less apparent and you adjust to it. Still, the camera is a pain in the ass, as is manually aiming. Thank the maker for the auto aim feature though, which makes running and gunning in this game a pretty f’n fun experience even by modern standards.

Now I have some issues with a few early levels in this but by the time you get to the prison asteroid in chapter three, the maps for this game become a lot of fun. Plus, these environments are pretty damn challenging.

I think that the only weak thing in the game is the boss fights. They aren’t very creative and most just consist of running and gunning and just not getting hit by lasers and missiles.

The real highlight of this game though is the sixth and final chapter where Jango Fett faces off with the Bando Gora cult and their leader, former Jedi Komari Vosa. This part of the game was really creative and I wish that we could see more of this cult and Vosa in other Star Wars stories. Sadly, none of it has really been revisited and it probably won’t be now that Disney is just making up their own canon and ignoring stuff like this game.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is severely underappreciated out of all the Star Wars video games throughout history. When I hear people talk fondly about Shadows of the EmpireDark Forces or the SNES games, I have to throw my two cents in about this solid game.

This isn’t perfect but it is still engaging, challenging and a blast to play 17 years later.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other Star Wars games that were tied to the Prequel Trilogy but I’d say that this was the best of them.

Video Game Review: Alien vs. Predator (PlayStation 3)

I was really excited when this came out because I love both Alien and Predator franchises and especially love when they come together. Well, maybe not in the movies but I always liked the Alien vs. Predator comics, as well as the video games before this one. That old Atari Jaguar game was great for the time.

This boasts good graphics, solid maps and the ability to play as a Predator, an alien or a human space marine. There are three different story routes and a lot of cool game play options.

One thing puts a real damper on this game for me though and that’s the overly complicated controls. I typically play as a Predator because why wouldn’t I? Predators are the friggin’ best and I can turn invisible and violently rip enemies to shreds with my knife gauntlet or blast them into smithereens with my shoulder cannon.

But that’s the problem. Predators can do too many awesome things that keeping track of it all, in the heat of battle, is sometimes difficult. Playing as an Alien xenomorph or a human isn’t that much easier either. Running around as a xenomorph can be very disorienting.

I think that this game was a good step in the right direction for what this needed to be but maybe it needed more refinement. And the learning curve to get the controls down is tough. One certainly can’t be ready to be thrown to the wolves after the weak and brief tutorial mission.

This is a lot of fun once you do get the hang of it though but it seems to lack in replayability.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Other Alien vs. Predator games and similar sci-fi/horror first person shooters.

Video Game Review: BioShock Infinite (PlayStation 3)

*I played the PlayStation 3 version. The game is also available on Xbox 360, Windows and OS X.

*Written in 2014.

Almost all of what I have read and heard about BioShock Infinite has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, by many it was considered hands down the game of the year in 2013. It was said to be a sequel that exceeded the greatness of the previous titles within its own franchise. People raved about the story, the graphics, the game play. All the hype and hoopla had me thinking that this was a very rare piece of perfection just waiting for me to pick it up and be enchanted by its very existence. Well… I f’n hated it.

I don’t know where to begin other than to say that this game was a mixture of two things, tedious chaos and excruciating boredom. Let me explain.

In regards to it being tedious chaos, when it wasn’t boring, it was just a redundant exercise in blasting waves upon waves of almost seemingly endless enemies. Some battles felt like they went on for days and frankly, I had to wonder what percentage of the town’s population in the game were armed officers of the law, as the in-game ratio of citizens to people shooting at you was about 10,000-to-1. And if they weren’t baddies on one side, they were baddies on the other side, as their was a revolution going on in the game. Differentiating between big brother fascists and revolutionary fascists was pointless and annoying. I just shot everyone, even the chick I was supposed to be protecting because she always happened to get in my way. I guess it is good that bullets seemingly just go through her like magic.

The truth is, this tedious bullshit also got boring. It was as if I was just doing the same bullshit over and over again and ultimately, I kept checking walkthroughs online. Not because I needed help but because I wanted to see how much longer I had to play this goddamned game.

The excruciating boredom came from the fact that often times, like the first two hours of the game, you are just walking around checking out the city. Also, there are just way too many items and things you can pick up throughout the game that you spend about two-thirds of your time searching desks and picking locks to discover more rooms with desks. I like treasure hunts but this just takes that shit too damn far.

As far as the story goes, people have talked it up like it is some amazing tale with a fantastic and mind-blowing ending. These people must spend most of their time taking drugs, drinking shit beer and ingesting monosodium glutamate. It wasn’t even engaging enough to make me want to finish the game. The twist at the end was bullshit and I really didn’t give a crap. The way it ties to the previous BioShock games just seemed like a weak cop out.

This game really just magnified everything that I hate about modern first-person shooters. And I loved the first two BioShock games. The level of sucktitude that this game exudes is painful to me. Well, at least from the rumors I hear, the next game will go back underwater. This Cloud City bullshit is for the birds… literally.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: BioShock and BioShock 2 but they are infinitely better, pun intended.