Video Game Review: The Goonies (NES)

In the late ’80s, my friends and I used to play the original Nintendo game Goonies II. As far as I knew, it was the only game and it was titled that because it was supposed to serve as a sequel to the film.

It wasn’t until years later that I found out that there was actually a Goonies I that was released in Japan. And it is mostly tied to the plot of the movie, even though you have to rescue all the other Goonies from the Fratellis, as opposed to all the Goonies just having to evade them on their way to One Eyed Willie’s treasure.

This is a much shorter and straightforward video game than its sequel. You simply work your way through six different levels: one is the Fratellis’ restaurant, four are caves and the last level is One Eyed Willie’s ship. In each level, you look for keys and other items but your primary goal is to rescue whichever Goonie is being held captive there.

The level designs are pretty good, even if the game is a bit confusing and easy to get turned around in. It all sort of clicks after you’ve been playing it for a bit though. But each level is timed, so if you don’t hit all your objectives and exit the locked door, you die.

This is mostly a pretty fun game that doesn’t take much time to master or really, much time to beat. The timer, if you get yourself lost, is the only real enemy, as everything else in the game isn’t too hard to deal with.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Goonies II for the NES.

Video Game Review: Super Mario Land (Gameboy)

Super Mario Land was released in 1989 as one of the launch titles for Nintendo’s first hand held console, the original Gameboy. I think it was the first game I actually played on the platform.

It’s pretty much a standard side scrolling Super Mario Bros. game. It’s similar to the original Nintendo trilogy of games, being closest to the first one in the series.

What I like about it is that it’s really unique in that you don’t fight Bowser but instead, fight a alien dude in a spaceship. You also fight giant flame breathing sphinxes and a lot of other new types of enemies. Plus, everything either has an ancient Egypt or a UFO theme.

While this also has some of the old baddies in it, the koopas in this game are more like a cross between koopas and bob-ombs. Instead of their shells bouncing around as weapons, they now fall and explode.

Ultimately, this was a pretty imaginative Mario game with a lot of cool things that set it apart from the others before it without diverting away from the gameplay style that made the games popular.

It’s a smooth running, energetic game with cool levels, neat monsters and a final boss that was unlike anything else in a Mario game before this.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Super Mario games for Gameboy and the original Nintendo.

Film Review: Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf (1992)

Release Date: December 23rd, 1992 (Japan)
Directed by: Hiroshi Fukutomi
Based on: Fatal Fury: King of Fighters by SNK
Music by: Toshihiko Sahashi, Toshio Masuda

Fuji Television Network, Nihon Ad Systems (NAS), Star Child Recording, 46 Minutes

Review:

There were Street Fighter kids, there were Mortal Kombat kids and then their were Fatal Fury kids.

I was a Fatal Fury kid and actually loved all the fighting games put out by SNK on the Neo Geo. And that’s not to say that I also didn’t play the shit out of the other two games but the style of those SNK fighters lured me in.

So when Fatal Fury animes started coming out, I bought them all and watched them almost weekly. I just dug the hell out of these films.

This one, the first of three, is the shortest and probably the worst but it’s still worth a watch for fans of the franchise that would evolve into the uber popular King of Fighters game series.

The story isn’t super exciting and it’s standard fighting game story fare. A bad guy, in this case Geese Howard, killed the two protagonists’ father. The two brothers decide to get revenge when they’re adults ten years later. They meet a Muay Thai ally and all three go to war with the scumbags ruling the city. They also kick ass in a big fighting tournament and draw the attention of the big bad guy.

The main issue I have with this film is that it’s too short. The story could have been better and richer but this just cuts to the chase, sets everything up quickly and then lets the characters duke it out.

If you aren’t familiar with these games, then this probably isn’t something you’ll give a shit about. If you are an old school Fatal Fury fan, this is worth checking out if only to build up towards the third film, which was pretty fantastic from my memory.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: the two Fatal Fury movies that follow.

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.

Vids I Dig 117: Whang!: Who Did Glass Joe Beat? – Gaming Mysteries

Taken from Justin Whang’s YouTube description: Glass Joe is famous for being a terrible boxer and the first opponent in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! for NES. One of the biggest mysteries around Glass Joe is that despite being an awful boxer, he has one victory on his record. Who could he have possibly beaten?

Video Game Review: Double Dragon II: The Revenge (Arcade)

The Double Dragon games were a massive part of my childhood. At least the parts that were spent at the video arcade or playing the original Nintendo.

My fondest memories were of the original game and Super Nintendo’s Super Double Dragon. However, when this game first came out, I was ecstatic that my favorite beat’em up side scroller of the time was getting a sequel.

Sadly, this one disappointed, even if I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself it was awesome.

My biggest gripe with the game is how they altered the controls. How you attack depends on how you are facing the enemy, which made attacks from multiple sides a pretty infuriating experience. I could play this for hours and my brain still couldn’t adapt to the bizarre and terrible change.

Playing this now, I turned it off about two-thirds of the way through because even on MAME, where I can alter the controls to my liking, I still couldn’t get the game to work in a fluid and fun way. I was bogged down by the shitty combat system.

Also, the enemies in this game just seem a lot more annoying, which is only compounded by the awful controls.

On top of that, this feels more like a rehash of the first game with shittier and more generic level design. Where the first game inspired imagination, this one just felt like one of the dozens of games that ripped off Double Dragon. This really added nothing good to the game series and in fact, made it worse.

However, the Nintendo version of the game is much better with some pretty good level design and additions. Sadly, it’s still got these shitty controls though.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: the other Double Dragon games, as well as other side scrolling beat’em ups from the era.

Video Game Review: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (NES)

I think that Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is still my favorite sports video game of all-time. Sure, it’s not realistic but it didn’t just give me hours of fun, it gave me decades of fun.

Hell, I still play through the game every couple of months and about a dozen years ago a friend and I made a short film where this game was the centerpiece of the plot.

Someone once asked what my favorite Mario game was and I answered, “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

But let me reel it back in.

This game is one of the greatest time wasters ever invented. That’s not hyperbole, that’s how I really feel.

You see, it’s pretty limited. You just do one thing in the game, you box. However, each boxer you face has a different style and it’s really a game about timing and pattern recognition. Now you may think that’s easy when a boxer you’ve beat shows up a second time but the patterns you familiarized yourself with change and get more difficult later in the game.

The way this was designed was pretty brilliant. It is also addictive as even in 2019, 32 years later, it’s hard to put down once you fire up a game.

I still play through this game in its entirety a few times per year. That’s staying power.

My only real complaint about the game is that Mike Tyson is ungodly hard. Yes, I can beat him on a regular basis but, as a kid, it took me a long ass time to finally take him out. Truthfully, even if you’ve beaten him dozens of times, as I now have, he’s still a beast and one mistake is pretty much your defeat.

A few years later, Mike Tyson got into some trouble, so he was removed from the game and replaced with a fictional boxer named Mr. Dream. Honestly, Mr. Dream was just a whitewashed Mike Tyson. Play both versions of the game and you’ll see what I mean.

In the end, both NES Punch-Out!! games are the same game. Just one has Mike Tyson and the other has whitewashed Mike Tyson.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: all other games in the Punch-Out!! franchise.