Zelda may be the most beloved video game franchise, but I've never counted myself among series super-fans. Since cutting my teeth on the series with Ocarina of Time, I've merely enjoyed all but a handful of games in the series. Don't get me wrong, they're all great, but I wouldn't put any in my top ten.
That said, I like checking out each title and comparing it with the rest of its ilk. Other than the experimental black sheep Zelda II: Adventure of Link, the first Legend of Zelda may be the series' most divisive game. Fans can't seem to agree whether the game's old school difficulty and unguided progression make it dated or just different. Lacking an in-game overworld map and never funneling players away from difficult areas, the NES original certainly requires more of its players than any Zelda since.
Nintendo recently launched its 3DS Ambassador program, giving the system's early adopters ten free NES games. I had been meaning to check out several of the ambassador titles, but none more so than The Legend of Zelda. Fifteen hours and a princess rescue later, I'm ready to weigh in on the Dated vs. Different debate.
There once was a game named Bionic Commando, and then twenty years later there was another game named Bionic Commando. In some media, this would be called a remake, but when one features a generic soldier battling through different locations with a grappling hook and the other features a dreadlocked dude battling through an office building with cheesy one-liners, I wonder where the remake line is drawn.
Bionic Commando was released for the NES in 1988 by Capcom. It landed among a glut of platformers where characters did normal things like run and jump, but Bionic Commando bucked the trend and put you in the body of a slow-moving soldier with only his grappling hook at hand to move vertically. Its combination of solid but difficult gameplay and a branching level select entrenched it in the mind of gamers, which led to...
Bionic Commando was released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows in 2009 by Capcom. It landed among a glut of actiony-platformer shooters where characters shot things until they died, and Bionic Commando did not buck the trend. Its combination of generic yet insulting gameplay and derivative story made it largely a totally forgotten game.
Neither Bionic Commandos is meant to be confused with Bionic Commando: Rearmed, which is an actual remake of Bionic Commando (for the NES), and released a year before Bionic Commando (the forgotten one on the more whiz-bangery systems). Or Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2, which is a sequel to the remake released before the game with the same name as the original.
I've played around with this tom-foolery before, particularly with Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden. A pair of games that both featured the same name and ninjas, but that's about it.
I'm going to play the first half-hour of each Bionic Commando, which adds up to an hour of Bionic Commandoness. I will then judge them entirely on 30 minutes of gaming and move on with my life.
Video games came into homes more or less in the mid 1980's. Sure there were games before then, before the crash, but I'm considering the NES as the start of what we now know (and love) as gaming. Because of this, my generation is the first that have grown up entirely within the era of videogames. This holds a lot of implications, and I'd like to look at a few of them over time.
I was born shortly after the NES debuted. Even though I wasn't an avid gamer until I was a teenager, I do remember video games always having a presence in my life. When I was about 5 years old, we lived in an apartment complex that had a janitor named Mario. Even though my family didn't own any video game systems at the time, I remember thinking it was funny that his name was the same as the guy from that one game. One issue this brings up is this: what becomes of gamers when they "grow up?"
Dragon Quest is one of the most popular gaming franchises in Japan, but it has always been in the shadow of other RPG series like Final Fantasy over here in the west. Square-Enix decided to see if they can rekindle some interest in the series putting the series on the DS, with remakes of IV and V already released, and VI and IX coming within the year in the States. While all eyes are on IX, let’s look back at the first Dragon Quest remake for the Nintendo DS, Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen. Originally released on the NES, and then remade for the PlayStation, the DS version brings us new features, a new translation, touched up graphics, and two-screen goodness.
My favorite licensed game as a kid was Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. Heck, this was one of my favorite games period. Rescue Rangers was a platformer released on the NES in 1990. It had the whole cast of characters from the cartoon, captured the soundtrack personally in 8-bits, and was just challenging enough to get me coming back over and over again. Probably the best part of it though was its two player simultaneous gameplay. This game single-handedly revealed the sadist tendencies that had lied dormant inside of me for so long (only to come out again many years later while playing The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures at college - I'll save that story for another day).
In this piece of nostalgia, I'll talk about the game's license (it is licensed games month at the First Hour), reminisce about the classic multiplayer, and revel in my speed run attempts during college. If you've ever played Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, I hope you enjoy this; if you haven't, well, you're in for a treat too.
Aladdin for the Sega Genesis was released in 1993 about a year after the film was in the theaters. It was created by the same team that would go on to make Earthworm Jim and features animations drawn by Disney animators. The game was released on a wide range of systems, but the Super Nintendo Aladdin was actually an entirely different game created by Capcom. For all these years I asssumed it was Nintendo's infamous censorship at work because you couldn't use a sword like on the Genesis, but it was simply a different game under the same name (though I wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo still had a hand in swordless Aladdin).
I reviewed the first hour of Lion King back in March and did not have a good experience. Considering both Aladdin and The Lion King were both developed by Virgin Interactive, could I possibly have a similar first hour? Let's get into it.
Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden are NES and Xbox games with the exact same name. Ninja Gaiden for the NES came out in 1989 and Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox came out in 2004. I'm not sure why Tecmo and lead designer Itagaki didn't give the Xbox Ninja Gaiden game a subtitle, but it's too late to wonder, because there are officially two games under the name of Ninja Gaiden, just released 15 years apart. In first hour tradition, I will be only playing Ninja Gaiden for one hour, but because they are named exactly the same, I will first play half an hour of Ninja Gaiden for the NES, and then half an hour on the Xbox. This will complicate the review a bit, but I'll try to always make is clear what game I'm talking about.
This is an exciting time for the Ninja Gaiden series, as Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword was released last month for the DS and Ninja Gaiden II will be out in a few weeks for the Xbox 360. Remember, this is a new Ninja Gaiden II, not Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos which was released on the NES in 1990. Yeah, Tecmo does it again. I plan on playing Dragon Sword (not Dark Sword) someday as it sounds pretty cool, but this review is all about the first hour of the two Ninja Gaidens. So let's get right down to it. To start, the first thirty minutes of Ninja Gaiden for the NES.
Bible Adventures is an old, unlicensed NES game made by Wisdom Tree. Since it was unlicensed and not approved by Nintendo, they were able to do cool things like have a baby blue colored cartridge and even featured their own Wisdom Tree Seal of Quality on the box. The game is a popular target for "Worst Game of all Time," mostly thanks to Seanbaby, but honestly this game was not that bad. Definitely not even in the bottom 10%. Compare it to other officially licensed crap like Deadly Towers or Bebe's Kids and you actually have a decent game going. Anyways, Bible Adventures features three Bible stories: Baby Moses, David and Goliath, and Noah's Ark told through platformers. They all pretty much play the same, but the Baby Moses game is actually pretty bad.
Since today is the last day of March, the month is supposed to be end like a lamb, which basically means it will be a calm Spring day. Instead, we have a heavy snow warning and are expecting 6-8 inches of slushy snow. Ugh. I reviewed The Lion King at the beginning of the month when March was supposed to come in like a lion (it was a nice day) and Bible Adventures is one of the only games that features sheep in even a small role. The other game I considered was Sheep for the PC but decided to do the more well known Bible Adventures. Well, let's get to the review.
The Lion King was the video game released to accompany the Disney movie of the same name. Games based on movies were nothing new in 1994, especially Disney tie-ins, but this is actually my first movie game review. It was released on literally every platform available at the time, including three Nintendo (NES, SNES, and Game Boy) systems and three Sega (Master System, Genesis, and Game Gear) systems, undoubtedly a feat unequaled by any other game.
Really the only reason I'm reviewing The Lion King is because of the saying: "March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb." If you're unfamiliar with the adage, it basically means March will open up with bad weather and end calmly with Spring fast approaching. Here in the upper-Midwest though, lots of snow typically begins and ends the month. Where's our lamb? Back to the review though, here's March roaring in, now I have four weeks to find a game about lambs... could be tough. Anyways, let's get right into the first hour of The Lion King (Super Nintendo version).
Tecmo Super Bowl is a classic football game for the NES. With the real Super Bowl airing tomorrow night, I've decided to post my first hour review of Tecmo Super Bowl a few days early. This won't be a typical review though, as I've played the game to death, I'm going to perform some Super Bowl predictions with the 17 year old game and pit the New England Patriots against the New York Giants. This is tomorrow's Super Bowl matchup but obviously these teams are very different than what they were when this game came out, so don't place any bets off the outcome!
Post-game results: Tecmo Super Bowl predicted the winner! Not even Madden picked them right!
A little about the game before we get started, Tecmo Super Bowl was the sequel to... Tecmo Bowl, and though that game was very good, Super builds and improves on the original in nearly every way. We now have 30 man rosters instead of 20 and Tecmo Super Bowl also featured 11 men on each side of the ball for every play, where Tecmo Bowl only had 9. It also was one of the first games to use real players and real teams, quite the feat back then as they were breaking new ground (actually, quite the feat now too since EA has a crappy monopoly on the NFL and the NFLPA). Anyways, Tecmo Super Bowl is a great game and I have some wonderful childhood memories of it.
Doing a little research, I've found something interesting: there are only a few players in the game that are still active (five to be exact), and two of them are playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday! Junior Seau played for the San Diego Chargers in Tecmo Super Bowl and now plays for the New England Patriots; and Jeff Feagles played for the Philadelphia Eagles and now is the punter for the New York Football Giants! That's pretty amazing the longevity these guys have (and the great timing of their careers).
Let's get to the game now, here's the first hour of Tecmo Super Bowl and a pre-enactment of Super Bowl XLII. By the way, I am well aware I can download updated ROMs with current rosters but I'm trying to review the original game just like it was meant to be played. In my commentary though I'll replace the old timers with their current counterparts, just to make things... interesting.