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The animation here is beautiful, all the tanks rolling across the plains...

The animation here is beautiful, all the tanks rolling across the plains…

“The smoke bomb looks like a big turd.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.

I really wanted to like Battle Tank.

I mean, I still kinda do, I do not loathe it exactly, but it just pushes too many of my buttons. Didn’t I just review another NES game in which you have to manage fuel consumption?

Speaking of NES games I recently reviewed, I like my games to combine both thought and action. I think a game can definitely be too intellectual, but I also firmly believe that if it is 100% oriented on action, it will ultimately be a more shallow, less fulfilling, less worthwhile experience. When you hear someone describe a game as “empty,” I bet they want something more, although that could be referring to an emotional connection too.

FIRE!

FIRE!

Anyway, here is my point: Great games seamlessly blend elements of both thought and action from the player with an emotive story. Consider the Legend of Zelda series, as a whole really, as a wonderful example there. Now, a lack of emotional plot can be forgiven in the name of fun, sure.

On paper, Battle Tank seems like the perfect mix (in addition: TANKS!). I really liked MechWarrior games on PC back in the day. I like the idea of piloting a complex machine capable of widespread devastation. I like, in theory, being able to command many separate options for weaponry and maneuvers alike. I like turn-based stuff, but doing this in real time has a more gut-punching appeal.

But Battle Tank has failed me. With its A.I. tanks that seem to too readily revert to a “run away” strategy (which is Hell on those fuel reserves, by the way), the way it magically seems to ignore my controller input just at the moment I need a precise shot, the smoke bomb that simply looks like a piece of poop… too many little negative ingredients add up to equalize the positive.

I really like how the map screen is used in this game, actually.

I really like how the map screen is used in this game, actually.

Battle Tank is not bad. But it is not nearly as great as I want to be. And I do not want every game to be great, if that makes sense. Some, I am quite satisfied to let them reside in Mediocre Land.

Battle Tank is the kind of game I could have loved had it been given just a little more love first.

I love the smell of napalm in the morning?

I love the smell of napalm in the morning?

NES Gameplay Tips For Battle Tank: Move as little as possible, treat your 150MM shells as precious artifacts, apply small-arms fire liberally, use the map to your advantage (in other words: use the map a lot), @#$% those helicopters, and avoid mines (duh right).

Read The Full Review For: Thoughts on game design that I am not qualified to have, my unfairly simplistic take on game designer Garry Kitchen’s legacy, additional gameplay screenshots, and a couple pathetic attempts at jokes.


rally_bike_nes_title_screen

“… do not enter the Rally with great expectations.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.

If I want to play a vertically scrolling top-down racer, I think I am just going to have to stick with Spy Hunter.

I mean, Rally Bike is not, like, monstrously bad. Look at it, this kinda looks like fun:

rally_bike_nes_gameplay_screenshot_4

Although it is certainly missing some charm from the arcade original:

rally_bike_arcade_gameplay_screenshot

Really, though, I believe in judging the NES game on its own merits, regardless of its arcade counterpart, no matter whether the port is well-done or done atrociously. This one falls middle-of-the-pack for me.

 

Read The Full Review For: Several comparisons to other NES games, what I think of the soundtrack, additional gameplay screenshots, and what the ultimate problem of Rally Bike on NES is.

NES Gameplay Tips for Rally Bike: Go fast without hitting anything and win every race. Right? No but seriously I am not good at this game sorry.

CHAMP

CHAMP


rampart_title_screen_nes

“But the true beauty of Rampart is the elegant interchange between each of the phases.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.

Did you know that Rampart was an arcade game?

I sure didn’t, until I spotted the cabinet at Galloping Ghost on my recent trip there. The Ghost is now on Twitter, too, by the way.

But then again, Rampart was made for many systems altogether. The Atari Lynx, the major 16-bit consoles, the ST, C64, PS3…

I love this wordy intro in the instruction booklet. Haha. What a mark of its time.

I love this wordy intro in the instruction booklet. Haha. What a mark of its time.

Like Lemmings, I suppose: A nichey little real-time strategy puzzler with enough of an addicting quality to have a broad appeal. I do like Rampart more, though. And unlike Battleship, this has a two-player mode. Granted, I think the difficulty of executing a two-player Battleship video game is much greater than most would give credit for, but…

Hey, it’s Rampart. A decent game. Good for a little diversionary fun. I would recommend trying it out, but I would never call it great. That said, it has totally aged better than many other NES titles (hello there, crappy platformers galore!), as I could see this being a very fun touchscreen title.

BOMBS AWAY!

BOMBS AWAY!

NES Gameplay Tips For Rampart: If the walls surrounding your previously cozy castle have been destroyed in such a systematic way as to make repairs very difficult and requiring of exact precision, consider the benefit of, instead, taking advantage of the blank verdant slate offered by another castle site, and build there instead. Ultimately, the two important skills in Rampart are wall-piece manipulation and cannon fire, each of which poses the kind of challenge that only practice will ultimately overcome. Good luck.

Read The Full Review For: A few decent turns of phrase I do not believe I have tried out before, yet only to dive into a lazy sort of ‘meh’ that I have been guilty of all too often. Also, my struggle to find synonyms for the word “wall.” Oh, and several more gameplay screenshots.

And that's how it's done, son.

And that’s how it’s done, son.

MAJOP PLAYOR'S

MAJOP PLAYOR’S

 


This title screen really, really hopes you are attracted to the protagonist.

This title screen really, really hopes you are attracted to the protagonist.

“But maybe that’s just me.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.

Target: Renegade might have one of the worst NES game endings of all time. And, yes, I am familiar with many of the classic choices for that award, such as the awe-inspiring typo showdown of Ghostbusters, among others. Rather than spoil it, I will just give you the option to see for yourself, if you ever want to check out this solid longplay video.

Somewhere else on the Internet, it has already basically been said that Target: Renegade is just “a little better than Renegade.” Haha, so true.

Why is an item pick-up made so complicated?! This is straight from the instructions!

Why is the basic act of an item pick-up made so complicated?! This is straight from the instruction booklet!

Really, all you need to do is analyze how needlessly clunky the mere title “Target: Renegade” (so many unnecessary, mouth-gumming syllables!) is, and you began to realize how needlessly clunky the game itself is. The title is a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is a great example of definitely being able to judge a book by its cover. The name of the game reflects its character quite well.

Okay, I have to admit, this is a pretty awesome screenshot. C'mon. Look at that explosion.

That explosion there? Used to be a motorcycle, ’til I kicked it. Awesome.

Does “Target: Renegade” sound appealing at all? No? Yeah, it probably sounds like some average, B-grade, cheesy 1980′s action flick, right? You nailed it: That’s this game in a nutshell, really.

SPOILER ALERT: The villain, Mr. Big, turns out to be a little person lol

Read The Full Review For: Deeper critical analysis, additional screenshots, game comparisons, a zany rant or two.

NES Gameplay Tips for Target: Renegade: Your usual beat-’em-up repertoire should do just fine here. Remember to stick and move, never get stuck between two characters (especially the ones with amusingly exaggerated biceps, they’ll speed-punch ya to death dang quickly I tell ya), and make sure you master the timing on the leaping kick. Which, in Target: Renegade, is no small task.

LEAVE ME ALONE GUYS

LEAVE ME ALONE GUYS


kid_kool_nes_title_screen

“That paragraph was far too long. Fittingly, so is Kid Kool.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.

If you want to hear my thoughts on the struggle to find the motivation to play this game enough to feel fulfilled enough to review it, check out episode 051 of 1 More Podcastle, pretty soon into it.

When the topic of bad NES games came up on my Facebook wall (go ahead, befriend me), Will Bloodworth said of Kid Kool: “That game is a steaming giraffe loaf.” I am not even sure what that means, yet I believe it wholeheartedly.

This is a game so bad that I almost made a suicide joke in writing about it, but thought that might be in poor taste, despite also thinking it may be appropriate as well.

This is a video game so bad that I wonder if I should have chose it for Review A Bad Game Day.

I mean: This is a bad video game.

Have I made that clear?

If you will not listen to me, listen to the Angry Video Game Nerd, because his video takedown of Kid Kool is wonderful.

I refuse to write any further informal blog-post thoughts about this piece of crap.

Read The Full Review For: Usage of metaphor, a non-traditional (non-categorical) review format, a lot more words than the blog post, and my likely in-vain attempts to portray just how bad this game is.

NES Gameplay Tips For Kid Kool: If you insist on playing a video game with a “K” in the title where a “C” should be, play a Mortal Kombat game instead.

Whatever.

Whatever.


Chills.

Five Stars.

“However, this is the triumph of Legend of Zelda, and its trick: It is, pervasively and persuasively, human.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.

If you dislike this old Nintendo game, just click away now, because my gushing praise and reverent mood are just going to enhance the view of me as a raving lunatic, a star-crossed lover, a hopeless sap besieged by such an enrapturing fondness. I am going to sound thoroughly silly.

I am only alive today because the older boy down the street whom I borrowed this golden cartridge from did not murder me when I erased his saved game, accidentally, somewhere in the glossy haze of my first few days ever experiencing this game.

And so the legend begins.

And so the legend begins.

My choice of the title “Nintendo Legend” as the name for this blog, this domain name, my resultant branding, is no coincidence. That term, “Legend,” has a special connotation among Nintendo fans. It has loads of baggage, for many of us, and comes with a full packet of distinctive meaning for anyone in earshot. When I noticed that the search term “Nintendo Legend” finally netted my own site as the top result on Google, rather than something from Nintendo about the Legend of Zelda, it was a really bittersweet feeling.

I love how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy it is. The “Legend” moniker, I mean — and not for myself, but for the game. For the institution, really. The universe.

See, there I go, talking about the Zelda “universe” and trying to encapsulate the impact of a genre-busting, industry-hurdling Thing that is bigger than myself. I am the brutish cave-dweller trying to describe an immense work of art.

Okay, whoa, let me step away from Hyrule and back down to Earth for a bit, sorry. But seriously: This is such a great video game! It is fun. It was clearly designed well. It took risks. It had a great impact. It sold over six million copies and has a great many fans to this day.

I am not even the guy with the tattoos, or the cosplayer, or one of the other impassioned followers of the Zelda mythos. But, dang, does this game have a place in my heart. I cannot help it.

The weird thing is that it was not always that way. The original NES Legend of Zelda has truly grown on me, over time. I would even say that it has aged very well, especially compared to most of those 8-bit Nintendo games. I know some disagree, but, ah, screw ‘em, kinda, y’know?

Iconic, yet still kinda funny too.

Iconic, yet still kinda funny too.

That original Legend of Zelda is the game that people still pine for. Big-name critics and reviewers still throw it out as a definitive example of game design done right, like, “Hey, remember when games were actually challenging, or gave the player an actual sense of open-world exploration, or raised the bar for storytelling, or…?”

What if I told you that I truly, literally believe that the Legend of Zelda is a modern generational tale, like prior parent-to-child yarns passed down, or pieces of classic literature? Some dove into Moby Dick, to emerge either disappointed or sold. So, too, do you latch onto Legend of Zelda or wonder what all the fuss is about.

Would I sound insane?

Would you believe me?

Are you one of the people who would just smile and nod in understanding?

One word: Triforce!

One word: Triforce!

I realize that us old-school nostalgic types can be obnoxious in how we relentlessly defend and evangelize our oh-so-classic games. But, dang, Legend of Zelda on NES is one territory I shall plant my flag upon and never dare retreat from. This is a beautiful game. It is a masterpiece.

If I am a sucker, then I have been suckered into something I do not regret biting the hook for. You got me, Nintendo. You got me.

Read The Full Review For: My honest attempt at conveying a proper examination of this NES game, and my probable failure to do it proper justice, although I greatly enjoyed putting a microscope on a couple of its brilliant strokes and conclude with a few overarching thoughts on the significance of imperfections and their unique effect on LoZ. Oh, and about ten more screenshots.

Gameplay Tips For The Legend of Zelda: Put away the strategy guides, unhook your Internet, act like you have never heard of an FAQ, push the cartridge into the console, and play the game. Play. Just play. Do you remember what it was like, to not feel any disconnect between the idea of “play” and how it related to video games? When playing Tag or Make-Believe was in the same category as playing a Video Game? I remember it, and firing up Legend of Zelda for another go helps me to. I think that is a good thing.

Adventure on.

Adventure on.


hook_nes_title_screen

Diggin’ that yellow visor on the cap there, Cap’n.

gauntlet_nes_gameplay_screenshot_1

“Peter Pan controls as though he is constantly moving through a mass of syrup.”
– from the full review, which you can read here
.

You know it is not a good sign when the instruction manual begins with five pages of warnings as to the use of the cartridge, the console, etc. Seriously, I have never seen anything like it, it is amazing stuff.

I have tried to understand Hook by putting myself in the mindset of its creators. I have tried to imagine conceptualizing this game, sitting in a room with other developers and talking about the ideas we will incorporate into this movie-license cartridge.

Then I have to wonder: Why would I choose to make this an item-collecting game? Why would I not focus more on the collision detection and movement mechanics? What is with the random metal detector usage (seriously?!) and some of the worst water graphics in human history?

I understand that making a video game can be very difficult, and involves a lot of hard work, but… am I the only one that believes some of these 1990′s developers could’ve just used a bit more common sense, especially when so many other NES games at the time were simply so much better?

Read The Full Review For: More gameplay screenshots, something about Tinkerbell being drunk, and some great (if I may say so) analysis of where this game stands in comparison to the NES platformer library.

NES Gameplay Tips for Hook: Do not try to attack enemies, just avoid them. Remember, there is no time limit, so just keep exploring every inch of the stage. If you die, do not fear, there are infinite continues, if you include the title screen option. Persevere, I guess, but really you should just probably play something more fun.

Screenshots, anyone? Anybody?

AAAAAAAAHHH! GET OUT OF MY FACE! YOU'RE BLOCKING THE TEXT ANYWAY!

AAAAAAAAHHH! GET OUT OF MY FACE! YOU’RE BLOCKING THE TEXT, TOO!

This guy. What the. Just... This guy.

This guy. What the. Just… This guy.

What a lovely poop-brown background. Mmm!

What a lovely poop-brown background. Mmm!

Giant mushroom. Fire-breathing dragon. Metal detector. Y'know, the usual.

Giant mushroom. Fire-breathing dragon. Metal detector. Y’know, the usual.

Note how the ship looks pretty good but the water looks awful.

Note how the ship looks pretty good but the water looks awful.


major_league_baseball_nes_title_screen

Yeah, this title screen is probably the best-looking part of the game.

“Have you ever seen kids play with junk, like throwing a broken bottle at each other or kicking a piece of rotten fruit back and forth, while they bask in the glee of blissful ignorance? Major League Baseball is like that.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.

Happy Review A Bad Game Day 2013!

Seriously, August 8th is Review A Bad Game Day, if you did not know. It has its own official website and everything, which you should check out. Consider submitting a review; and if you do not make it in time, you can still enjoy reading the game-bashing by others, as we celebrate the communal joy of trashing crappy games. Fun stuff.

In fact, MLB is my pick for RABGD this year. It sucks. It is a bad game.

The line-up selection process is a nightmare exercise in tedium, ugliness, and unnecessity.

The line-up selection process is a nightmare exercise in tedium, ugliness, and unnecessity. Nothing about this portion of the game says “Hey, I was designed well!”

Sometimes, I feel like the best thing a bad game has ever done for me is affirm my reviewing beliefs. This game is no exception — when I examine this cartridge closely, I am further convicted of my opinion that a lot can be concluded about a video game from looking at its nitty-gritty details. I also think that context is important, yet objectivity is great as well.

In other words: No matter whether you compare it to other NES baseball games or just try to judge it on its own inherent entertainment merits in a vacuum free of the influence of other electronic gaming options, MLB still fails the test.

In fact, I made a silly little video, just to showcase how downright bug-ridden this stupid game is. This is a glitch occurrence within the top of the first inning I was playing, after the computer caught a pop fly while I had a man on first base:

Ridiculous.

Really, you should just read the full review for my lengthy beatdown of this bad game.  There are only so many words I can use to convince you that, indeed, MLB is terrible. It’s not even an LJN hatred — I have very fond memories of Jaws, and I really enjoy The Punisher, my favorite game from them. But with other carts out there like MLB, it is no wonder they have such a terrible reputation as an 8-bit publisher. Yuck.

Mid-swing. These brief moments of batting are, by far, the best part of Major League Baseball.

Mid-swing. These brief moments of batting are, by far, the best part of MLB.

Actually, wait, I do have one last question: Considering that even the real-life version of baseball is plagued with pacing problems, why were so many elements of MLB seemingly intentionally programmed to be slow? The whole roster-choosing sequence, the airspeed of thrown balls, that annoying brief pause after batting contact (seriously, does any other 8-bit baseball game have a freaking freeze, albeit brief, every single time you hit the ball?!), etc.?

You know what, never mind. Thinking about this game too hard is the sort of crawl down a dark hole that leads people to depression and suicide. Screw that.

Read The Full Review For: An epic (well, perhaps attempt-at-epic) takedown of nearly 2,000 words that examines this game’s flaws in both a general, overarching sense — and in a microscopic, specific, detailed perspective as well.

NES Gameplay Tips For Major League Baseball: As you practice your skills, focus on fielding; specifically, develop a sense of where your players are at the moment the opposing batter makes contact with the ball. Being able to get to that baseball ASAP is going to spell the difference between making outs and spewing a constant string of expletives under your breath.

In this sequence, I hit a fly ball out to left field. The computer fielder nearest to the ball decided to start running to the left, away from the ball, just so that some other shmuck can make the now-late play.

In this sequence, I hit a fly ball out to left field. The computer fielder nearest to the ball decided to start running to the left, away from the ball, just so that some other shmuck can make the now-late play.

Why did they even bother drawing people in the stands? It's like they gave the most minimal effort possible. Check out the random handful of different-colored fans in the upper-left corner. What's up with that?!

Why did they even bother drawing people in the stands? It’s like they gave the most minimal effort possible. Check out the random handful of different-colored fans in the upper-left corner. What’s up with that?!

 

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