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.

Video Game Review: The Lone Ranger (NES)

I have never played The Lone Ranger for the original Nintendo but I went into this knowing nothing about the game and without having any expectations.

What I was really surprised to discover is that this is one of the greatest 8-bit action RPGs of all-time!

Seriously, no one talks about this game, I’ve never heard anything about it and because of that, I have to consider it a real hidden gem among the 600+ titles that were released for the system.

The thing that makes this game so great is that it employs multiple gameplay styles from bird’s eye view world traveling to side scrolling, vertical scrolling and first person shooter action levels. You fight in towns, on moving trains, in caves, in forts, in hotels, on mountains, in the desert and even get to fight on horseback in two different ways.

Man, this game is just cool as hell and a shitload of fun! It’s really damn difficult but it isn’t unbeatable. I did beat the game, even though it took some time, and it gave me a real sense of accomplishment unlike many games from the era that have really underwhelming endings. This game’s ending was pretty superb for the time.

There isn’t a dull moment or a boring mission. The game designers did a fantastic job at keeping every area of the game fresh and unique, always adding new twists and ways to play the game.

For the 8-bit era, this is close to a masterpiece. The only things working against it are a lack of maps in the first-person stages and frustrating controls that switch your weapon when you jump.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: other action RPGs and western games for the NES.

Video Game Review: Gyruss (NES)

Gyruss was a game that could’ve easily been tweaked a wee bit and made to fit within the larger Gradius universe. While those games are made by Konami and this is made by Ultra, you might not know that Ultra was just an imprint under the Konami umbrella and that the arcade version of this game had Konami all over it. The main reason for Ultra’s existence was due to some weird laws regarding licensing in North America.

Anyway, this has a Gradius feel to it, even though the gameplay style is much different.

You play as a spaceship and shoot your way through waves of enemies, progressing from stage to stage. It’s pretty simple and straightforward.

The big difference between this and the more popular side scrollers like the Gradius series is that you control the ship from a first-person point of view, as you movie the ship around the edge of the screen on a 360 degree circular rail.

While the perspective is initially cool and works well in the original arcade version of the game, it makes the controls in the NES port somewhat problematic due to the limitations of the D-pad. It’s mostly just clunky and doesn’t respond as well as you need it to.

Additionally, the game is initially fun but it gets really repetitive. Where the Gradius games are pretty much simple side scrolling shooters, they at least have really good level design and environmental changes that make the stages interesting. Gyruss, on the other hand, just has you starring at a black screen that you roll around while shooting in one small area of the screen.

This is a game that started with a cool idea but had poor, unimaginative execution, especially on the NES port. It just doesn’t work well and there are much better games within this genre.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: other spacecraft action shooters for the NES.

Video Game Review: The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner (NES)

I remember liking this as a kid but it’s been a really long time since I’ve played it.

As a grown adult in 2020 with over three decades of video game experience under my belt, I now think that The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner stinks!

It’s repetitive, annoying, pretty damn pointless and doesn’t offer up anything worthwhile other than it having a 3D mode that no one ever used, even way back in 1987.

You just run forward in a faux 3D world, dodging random objects, blasting random objects, avoiding poisonous mushrooms and trying not to get stopped by flying disembodied hands while jumping over massive chasms.

At the end of each series of stages, you basically fight the same boss: a flying serpent shaped thing. Sometimes you have to fight multiple in a row. The only difference between them is they have different heads and colors. They also take more hits to kill as the game advances.

In the end, this is pretty basic, very repetitious and not very exciting. I guess the world looks cool but that doesn’t salvage the game from simply being a gimmick that doesn’t deliver beyond that.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: other 8-bit adventure games for the original Nintendo, which is almost every game for the original Nintendo.