Video Game Review: S.T.U.N. Runner (Arcade)

S.T.U.N. Runner was a game I used to play a lot in video arcades back in the ’80s. It was a hell of a lot of fun but I hadn’t played it since.

I was actually surprised that the controls worked so well when playing this through MAME on my RetroPie.

The game is basically a racing game but you’re racing against time, as opposed to other vehicles. It also has a combat element, as you earn a blaster that allows you to blow up obstacles and enemies, as you fly through the levels.

Each level is a different track and you go through outdoor areas and tubes. You also have ramps, speed pads you can use to boost, as well as stars you need to collect to get bonuses and better tech for your vehicle.

The game is also made from 3D polygons and for the time, it was an incredible looking game. I’m actually surprised at how fluid it is, as it was one of the earliest games of its type.

Playing this again was a lot of fun. Honestly, this is a game on my RetroPie that I’ll probably play quite a bit.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other racing combat-type games of the ’80s and ’90s.

Video Game Review: RoboCop 2 (Arcade)

I reviewed the first RoboCop arcade game awhile back and intended to review the sequels, as well, but that task fell down the memory poop chute.

Anyway, while playing my RetroPie, I came across this and was then reminded of the task I failed at. So I immediately fired this one up and then realized, I had never actually played it, even way back in the day.

The action and mechanics are pretty close to the first arcade game, except you are able to move up and down the ground area and it’s not like your stuck walking on a rail.

The graphics and sound quality are about the same and the game is actually fairly quick if you’re pretty good at it. But the learning curb isn’t steep and playing this through MAME, you never run out of quarters.

My only real gripe is that the jumping and shooting combo you need to use on the harder bosses is kind of wonky and annoying. Also, the bonus stages are kind of cool but pointless and somewhat tedious. If you can get anything close to a perfect score, you are the greatest gamer that ever lived.

Overall, not a bad followup to the first RoboCop arcade game but I still like its predecessor a bit more.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling shooters and beat’em ups from the era.

Video Game Review: Rolling Thunder (Arcade)

I used to play Rolling Thunder a lot back in the ’80s when I’d blow all of my allowance at the arcade. I honestly forgot about it though until I heard it mentioned on a podcast discussing arcade games from the greatest generation of video arcades.

I was glad to find this on my RetroPie, so I fired it up to re-familiarize myself with its pure, unadulterated awesomeness.

Well, I was glad to discover that it has held up tremendously well. It was fun as hell to play, the gameplay mechanics were damn solid and I loved the sound, level design and the general action elements.

My only real complaint is that continues send you back to a checkpoint instead of respawning you where you died. It adds an extra level of challenge to the game but since you can’t take very much damage, as is, I found myself stuck in a really difficult area.

Despite that, I played this for well over an hour, which is a long time for arcade games from this one’s era.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other side-scrolling action shooters of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras.

Video Game Review: Die Hard (NES)

This game is really fun to play but it is also kind of infuriating, as it’s never really clear what the hell you’re supposed to be doing.

Sure, the game gives you clues about things you need or steps you need to take but it’s all really vague and you still have to figure it out with trial and error but the game also has a time of sorts working against you.

I didn’t beat the game because I couldn’t get passed a certain point and I couldn’t go to the floor I needed to go to because there were hostages.

So I aimlessly wandered around, after killing every terrorist, trying to pick up items and looks for ones I missed but it got me nowhere.

Could I have read a walkthrough or watched a video? Sure. But if I was playing this back when it came out, I wouldn’t have had that luxury.

So fuck this game. It was fun until it wasn’t.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: other bird’s-eye-view action games for the NES.

Video Game Review: Batman: Return of the Joker (NES)

I never played this game and I guess I kind of missed out, as I probably would’ve really liked this, back in the day.

I was a fan of the first Sunsoft Batman game for the original Nintendo, as it came out and was tied to the 1989 Tim Burton movie.

I never realized that this one was a direct sequel to it and I guess that makes it exist in an alternate timeline than the cinematic universe of the same era. Granted, these games are very different than the ’89 movie in that they have a very sci-fi/cyberpunk aesthetic and deviate from the film’s story quite a bit.

So in this version of a sequel, the Joker has survived. They’ve also given him more of a comic book look, as opposed to using Jack Nicholson’s likeness. I’m assuming that was because the licensing fees to use his visage once again was too pricey and unnecessary in the grander scheme of things.

The game looks very similar to its predecessor; however, they’ve given Batman a larger sprite and stripped away the mechanics only to replace them with something worse. The weapons system may seem more advanced but it’s kind of confusing, tedious and annoying. Also, you can’t bounce off of walls and scale them like you could in the previous game.

This also adds in a few jetpack shooter stages that play more like a Gradius game than a normal Batman title. It’s kind of cool but I would’ve preferred having more standard levels with some good design. In fact, the levels in this game feel very small and are conquered too quickly.

Most of the bosses are just a big pain in the ass. Additionally, the first time you fight the Joker, he flies around in a pod like Dr. Robotnik from the Sonic games. It’s not cool and it’s pretty lame. The second time you fight the Joker, you basically fight a Joker-themed super computer. It’s also lame.

This game had some promise and I mostly enjoyed it but the improvements just ended up being disappointments. I would’ve rather just gotten a redesigned version of the first game with new levels and bosses.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the previous Sunsoft Batman game for the NES

Video Game Review: Predator (NES)

After playing Rambo for the original Nintendo, I figured that I’d revisit that system’s Predator game as well.

While this is similar to Rambo in that it is a side-scrolling shooter and platformer based on an action franchise starring an action movie megastar of the ’80s, it doesn’t quite play as well as Rambo and it has some strange elements to it.

The strangest thing about this is that there are two game modes. I’m not really sure why they did this, other than trying to maybe blow kid’s minds with two modes but both are essentially side scrolling shoot’em up situations.

The only really difference is that the second mode makes the sprites bigger and more detailed but it also forces you to move as the screen scrolls on its own. The second mode Predator alien looks superb, especially for the 8-bit era, but it doesn’t save this mode from being annoying as hell and terrible to play through.

I much prefer the regular mode of the game, which is basically just a run and gun platformer with a multitude of baddies to blast and evade.

One problem with this game’s design, is that it looks like it is trying to emulate the aesthetic of the original Contra. However, it fails to have the great, smooth mechanics of that game and the graphics aren’t really up to snuff. Also, the level design is shit and pretty annoying.

Predator also features a weird final boss battle where you take on the gigantic, disembodied head of a Predator alien. This never happened in the movie but whatever.

This is actually better than I remembered it but even then, it is still a mostly bad game with a secondary mode that kills it.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other action side scrollers of the 8-bit era, especially those based on action movies.

Video Game Review: Rambo (NES)

My memories of this game didn’t paint it in a favorable light. However, I was surprised to discover that I actually quite liked the game, playing it in 2020.

Now this is far from perfect, as the objective and where to go isn’t made too clear, but once you get some time in and get the hang of the game, it grows on you.

It has a very similar playing style to Zelda II in that it is a side scrolling action game where you get experience points by killing enemies. Now the leveling up advantages aren’t as clear as they are in Zelda II but this essentially follows the same concept with roughly the same size character sprites and game mechanics.

That being said, the mechanics aren’t as polished as Zelda II and sometimes it is difficult to duck and shoot or turn and shoot someone coming up behind you. Had these issues been fixed before this was released, this could have been a damn good game. Instead, we get something that’s fairly fun but also frustrating in a firefight with multiple enemies.

Also, the boss battles are all very weak and monotonous. The big helicopter fight isn’t something you can go into with a strategy, you just have to hope you have enough medicine bottles and get lucky enough to inflict enough damage while missiles rain on your head and multiple enemies appear to expose the terrible flaws in the game’s controls.

Still, I had fun playing through this and beating it. It’s far from being a classic but for an ’80s console video game based on a licensed property, it’s not half bad.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: other action side scrollers of the 8-bit era.

Video Game Review: Fester’s Quest (NES)

What a terrible, horrible, insipid piece of donkey shit.

Back in the day, I was kind of excited when this came out. My cousin and I rented it and immediately had renter’s remorse. We were then stuck with it for the whole weekend and tried to make the best out of it but nothing in the game seemed clear and it was a confusing mess where we aimlessly walked around with one of the worst weapons in video game history. We got nowhere and we never rented the game again.

All these years later, I though that I’d try it again. Primarily because there are a lot of games I didn’t like or have the patience for in my youth that I have replayed now and found enjoyable.

This is not one of those games.

While I did figure some things out and did play this game through to completion, it was still tough to get through due to the terrible weapon, the terrible level design and overall repetitiveness of the whole game. Hell, even most of the bosses are pretty much the same with just a sprite change and a modified attack.

It actually boggles the mind how bad this game is. I can’t believe that it ever got released or wasn’t reworked at the design stage. But as I have said before, 8-bit video games of licensed properties don’t have good track records.

This might be the worst thing ever made that is associated with The Addams Family franchise.

Rating: 2/10
Pairs well with: punching yourself in the genitals, which you should not do.

Video Game Review: Dirty Harry (NES)

Man, this is a really, really shitty video game. And it’s actually unfortunate too because there are things about it that are kind of great and fairly cool.

Focusing on the positives first, this game has multiple gameplay modes. There’s the side scrolling street action and then there’s a side scrolling mixed with three-dimensional exploring element when you take Dirty Harry into buildings.

I also think that the game looks fairly good for a licensed property game made for the original Nintendo. The reason I point that out is because the NES was synonymous for having terrible games based on movies. Honestly, that wasn’t just an NES problem, though.

That’s it for the positives; so on to the negatives.

To start, this game is completely wrecked by how terrible the controls are.

It is then further wrecked by what appears to be interesting level design but ultimately is just a frustrating maze where it’s fairly easy to trap yourself and then become overwhelmed by thugs that just keep spawning, again and again. And with really limited ammo and a punch that couldn’t tear a hole through a wet paper bag, you’ll probably end up throwing your controller across the room.

Additionally, some things just don’t make any fucking sense!

Why are these ghetto apartments full of snakes and laser floor traps? Couldn’t these thugs have spent some money on fixing up the place before buying all the snake babies at the San Francisco Zoo? Floor lasers… seriously? Couldn’t they have hired a maid or thirty-seven with that money?

Also, why is Dirty Harry wearing an electric blue suit and black shirt? He’s Dirty fucking Harry not a random pimp from an episode of Miami Vice!

When I first fired this up, I thought, “Okay… this actually looks promising.” Two minutes later, I thought, “Someone get me some gasoline and a blowtorch, I’m roasting this fucker!”

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: its very diverse gameplay reminded me of The Lone Ranger for the original Nintendo but this pales in comparison to that.

Video Game Review: Lethal Weapon (NES)

I understand why a lot of people hate this game. And I did too for a long time.

However, after putting time and work into it, I was able to beat this insanely difficult son of a bitch and ended up feeling pretty damned accomplished in doing so.

It’s a simple 8-bit, side scrolling game that allows you shoot and beat people up with your fists if you’re out of ammo. It behooves you to not waste ammo and to try and keep as much as possible because the game gets much more difficult when you have to resort to fisticuffs. There are some Game Genie codes to help, if need be.

Like many licensed games based on popular franchises, this was probably made quickly as a cash cow and thus, not a lot of time was given to fine tuning the mechanics. It’s a clunky, infuriating game at times and some enemies are a real pain in the ass to hit, not to mention those f’n bombs that you have to blow up without trying to take damage.

This is a game that isn’t worthy of its namesake but after dedicating time to it, in an effort to get good enough to beat it, I don’t completely hate it.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling beat’em ups and shooters of the 8-bit era.