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

This is the original version of Super Mario Bros. 2, that unfortunately only got released in Japan, as it was deemed “too hard for Americans.”

Well, I take offense to that, as I played this fucker and kicked its ass!

Okay, it kicked my ass a whole lot but I beat this game and proved that full grown American men with thirty-plus years of Mario experience can hang with some Japanese kids in the ’80s!

While I would’ve really loved playing this game in my youth, as frustrating as it is, I understand why Nintendo of America thought that it wouldn’t work in the States. And fortunately, for us, we got our own version of Super Mario Bros. 2, which was simply a game called Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. While not an actual Mario game in Japan, it had its playable character sprites redesigned to look like Mario characters. And frankly, even if I’m in the minority, it was my favorite Super Mario game of the original NES trilogy in the U.S.

This game did get released later with enhanced 16-bit graphics as part of the Super Nintendo game, Super Mario All-Stars. On that game, this was re-titled Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels.

I really like this game though. While it uses all the sprites and design style of the original game, it is too difficult to not feel fresh and like a real challenge. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve mastered the original game, you will find this one to be tougher than boiled show leather.

And while you’ll spend a lot of time getting pretty frustrated, the game is still a lot of fun and beating it does give you a sense of accomplishment much greater than its predecessor.

However, I think it is a step down from the original, as some of the level design is tough just to be tough and isn’t really an improvement. In fact, I think this is a bit less imaginative, as there are some maps you can get stuck on if you miss a vine or some other route change that you can’t backtrack from.

Also, due to the game’s complexity, the timer is much more of a bitch in this installment, especially in the fortresses.

All that being said, this is definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the original game.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: pretty much all Super Mario Bros. games.

Video Game Review: Castlevania: The Adventure (Gameboy)

Fuck me, I forgot how goddamned awful this piece of shit game was until I decided to replay it. I mean, it’s Castle-fucking-vania! How do you screw that up?

Even Simon’s Quest, which a bunch of simpleton’s want to claim is a terrible game (it isn’t) blows this mindnumbing mindfuck out of the water.

The awfulness of this game mainly falls on its mechanics. The controls are horrendous but then, so is the motion and movement of the character on the screen. You thought jumping in some of the NES Castlevania games was infuriating and tedious? Well, wait till you get a load of this shit game.

Granted, you should never actually play this unless you have free access to it and you hate yourself, your sanity and are deliberately trying to be self-destructive with a God Mode code.

Apart from the mechanics, the game is boring, looks boring, has stupid bosses that are generic, uninspiring and don’t channel the same sort of classic horror feel that the NES games did.

Fuck this game. If you own it, burn it.

Rating: 1.5/10
Pairs well with: The original and far superior Castlevania trilogy for NES, as well as the Gameboy sequel.

Video Game Review: DuckTales 2 (NES)

Sequel games should be improvements over their predecessors. DuckTales 2 is not.

Granted, it’s not a terrible game and it’s still kind of fun to play but it’s really just more of the same with worse level design and some new mechanics that sort of bog the gameplay down a bit.

I guess I expected more but maybe I shouldn’t have. I always hear people praise the DuckTales game but I never hear anyone actually talk about the sequel. I thought that might be due to the several years that passed before this one came out and because the original Nintendo was already dying due to next gen consoles.

This honestly just feels like a re-tread trying to cash in on a once hot game while the creators behind this installment didn’t have the talent, drive and creativity to make it worthwhile to the consumer.

If you absolutely love the first game, this may be worth checking out just to try some new levels but you’ll probably still find it to be a disappointment.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: its predecessor, as well as the other Disney games for the original Nintendo.

Video Game Review: Super Mario Bros. (NES)

Here we are, looking at the very first Mario game! Well, not the first, as there was Mario Bros. before Super Mario Bros. but this was the first of the Super series and the game that laid the groundwork of what this long-running franchise should be.

Out of the original trilogy of games for the original Nintendo in the United States, this is my least favorite installment. Still, it is a bonafide classic deserving of its admiration and praise. However, Super Mario 2 and 3, both took this formula and found ways to expand on it, greatly.

On a side note: yes, I know that Super Mario 2 in the U.S. isn’t the real version of Super Mario 2 but I discuss that in my review of it. Also, I am going to review the actual real Super Mario 2 in the very near future, as I finally played it in its original 8-bit form and not the U.S. version where it was released as a 16-bit remaster as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels on the Super Nintendo’s Super Mario All-Stars, seven years after it’s Japanese release.

This game is still a lot of fun and it’s aged remarkably well, as despite how many times I’ve played through it and have the levels memorized, it still provides a good challenge.

But I feel like there isn’t much I can say about the game that everyone doesn’t already know. I’m assuming that just about everyone and their mothers have played the first Super Mario Bros. It’s the sixth best-selling video game of all-time with over 48 million sold and the only game from its era that surpassed it was Tetris.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: pretty much all Super Mario Bros. games.

Video Game Review: Karnov (NES)

Karnov is one of those odd games that I used to like a lot as a kid, even though most people didn’t play it or look twice at it.

It’s a simple side scrolling action game with pretty bad mechanics and awful menu layouts but it was also pretty ambitious in its use of items and the amount of items within the game.

I always looked beyond the flaws though, as I was captivated by the aesthetic of the game, between its visual allure and the interesting mythological world it takes place in.

The music in this is also pretty damn rad and it has held up quite well for a late ’80s 8-bit game.

I still find myself playing through the entire game every couple of years and I still enjoy it.

I kind of wish that this was a hit because sequels would’ve been cool and they could’ve refined some of the issues this game had.

Plus, for those who might not realize it, Karnov, the character, also appeared as the first level boss in Bad Dudes. He also had minor appearances in a few other games. Maybe Data East had plans to turn him into their brand’s Mario.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling fantasy action games for NES.

Video Game Review: DuckTales (NES)

I remember playing the crap out of this game. I never owned it but I rented it a lot and then I had a friend that let me borrow it over the summer one year.

I’m pretty sure I never beat it because I didn’t remember the bit about Dracula Duck at the end but that never seemed to deter me from playing this for hours on end. I think I always got stuck in that cave where you needed the special key to enter.

This is still a fun game that has aged pretty well.

However, it’s nowhere near as long as I remembered it and I actually beat it in well under an hour.

The level design is pretty good, especially the maze that is the Transylvania level.

My only real complaint about the game is that the boss battles are way too easy and the method at defeating every boss is virtually the same.

Still, this is a blast to play and it captures the magic of the cartoon series it’s based on rather well.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: its sequel, as well as the other Disney games for the original Nintendo.

Video Game Review: The Karate Kid (NES)

Sadly, The Karate Kid game for the original Nintendo Entertainment System is completely devoid of Cobra Kai.

I guess that’s because it is primarily based off of the second film, which saw Daniel-San and Mr. Miyagi go to Okinawa where they both had to face their own challenges. In the case of Daniel-San, his challenge came in the form of the local douchebag rich kid, Chozen.

The first stage in this game is the karate tournament from the end of the first movie but you fight generic opponents. Every stage after that takes place in Okinawa, as you fight your way through side scrolling stages. Eventually, once you reach the end of the fourth and final stage, you fight Chozen on the same platform from the finale of the second movie.

The game is pretty much a side scrolling beat’em up. However, there are a few cool mini games thrown in like dodging the hammer, catching the flies with chopsticks and karate chopping blocks of ice. These were all things taken from the second movie.

For the most part, the game is fun but it is over pretty quickly.

The mechanics are okay. They can be a bit frustrating at first but they don’t take long to adapt to.

While I like the game, I do wish it was longer and had better level design. Maybe even some cut scenes to provide some story would have been nice, as well.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other 8-bit side scrolling beat’em ups.