Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fight Town Song

MrJordak wrote a cool midi track for Fight Town! Expect it in the next version!

Download it now! Inspired by Streets of Rage! Right Click > Save As!

This should replace one of the calm, out of place tracks in the game.

Also download Fight Town!

Song of the Week: Phantasy Star Title Theme

I'm going to try out a weekly song posting of some underrated amazing video game music.

For week one, a Sega Master System classic and a really great theme that fits the game perfectly: The Phantasy Star Title Track. I'm playing Phantasy Star on the VC right now, and I'm going to be making a more in-depth post about it in a few hours.

This song reminds me of the Lufia menu theme because of the drums and happy synths.

Super Adventure Island Review and VC Launch Party

This morning I played through Super Adventure Island in honor of it's release on the VC, and to write this review with a fresh perspective.

Super Adventure Island has great music, before everything else, that really stands out. Too bad it only lasts 15 levels because it's one of the high points in the series. As of May 30, 2011 gamers can purchase this classic for 800 Wii Points on the Wii VC. Even though other titles in the series prove much more adventurous, this title has some redeeming qualities and it's nice to see Hudson continuing to support the VC (Legendary Axe I & II please).

Once again, you are Master Higgins on an Island of Adventure! An evil wizard turns your GF to stone, chase him down and kick his ass to beat the game. Hudson was making purposefully archaic games before it was cool, but it's hard to tell if they thought the simple design and short length were good design choices or if they thought gamers wouldn't noticed as long as the entire thing was shiny.

No dinos. Only 15 stages over 5 Islands (Adventure Island II has over 80 stages spread across 8 Islands). Admittedly, Adventure Island 2 (and 3) take forever to beat. You have to dedicate an entire morning/day/night to beating those games. The return to a more Wonderboy/Adventure Island 1 design isn't an inherently bad decision.

The awkward controls, tiny enemy hitboxes, and momentum physics make the game a real challenge. Once mastered, you'll probably still make mistakes.

Overall the game is punishing. 3 Lives and 3 continues and you have to start over. You get a 1-Up every 50,000 points (about every 2-3 levels). Hudson intends to make the player practice for a few days before beating this game, not surprising considering the $70 price tag it had as a Super Nintendo Launch Title.

This game was hyped about as much as you could hype a game. Surprisingly, gamers generally like this game, and many have fond memories of owning only this, Super Mario World, and maybe a handful of other carts for the SNES.

Master Higgins likes to get wet, and Super Adventure Island is no exception. But the water stages were so much more elaborate and enjoyable in Adventure Island II. On the SNES it feel likes the devs rushed some water levels to give the game variety. These levels are easy breaks from the otherwise hectic gameplay.

Super Adventure Island is actually the 3rd game in the series. Adventure Island 3 came out much later, but it's actually the 5th in the series. New Adventure Island is actually the 4th, and it takes the same formula as Super Adventure Island, but improves the graphics and play control even more, and one of the true TG-16 classics. Except the very first game, Adventure Island, isn't even properly part of the series because it's just a graphics hack of Wonderboy. That means the "real" first trilogy of Adventure Island games looks like this:

1. Adventure Island II
2. Super Adventure Island
3. New Adventure Island

And I'm not surprised that these are probably the best in the series. Adventure Island 3 is repetitive, Adventure Island: The Beginning has been collecting dust inside my Wii, and the Japanese PS2 games look pretty bad as well. The two metroidvanias: Super Adventure Island II and Adventure Island 4 were both amazing, and Hudson really should release those as well, especially the masterpiece #4, which is easily one of the greatest games on the NES.

If you're still interested in Adventure Island, you can read the detailed history of the tangled series by clicking here.

My only major complaint with Super Adventure Island is that most of the enemies are either terribly boring or plain ugly. Water monsters fly around non-water levels, and the strange balloon seals are the stupidest fucking thing ever created. The bosses, however, really shine and show homage to one of the most memorable Adventure Island II bosses, the Hermit Crab. Too bad they ripped the ending fight straight out of Super Mario Bros. 3.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Fight Town

Fight Town is an homage/parody of the Beat-'Em-Up genre. A slick businessman, Carl Moneymaker, is running Fight Town into the ground.

Only USA Joe has the skills to run away from the bad guys and diffuse the Hydrogen Bomb at the heart of the city.


-7 City Streets and 1 Massive Downtown (8 Stages Total!)
-Mind-Bending Puzzles
-Off-beat humor
-The ability to get shanked
-A pointless, but cool, "Cool" meter
-8-Bit Graphics
-Engrossing storyline
-Save Feature
-Diverse city with lots of inhabitants
-Catchy Tunes
-1 Hour of Gameplay

Download Fight Town Beta 1.0

Leave some feedback in the comments section! Don't take this game too seriously!

Pixel Art: Angel

Just a quick sketch of a fallen angel.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Top 10 Underrated Non-Franchise Action Platformers for the NES

I'm not going to make a list clogged with Mario, Contra, Metroid, and Proto Man 2. These games have the benefit of low-prices because collectors/vendors seem to care more about brand recognition than quality. These games are often brutally difficult, thus undesirable to many gamers. Others never saw a North American release.

#12: Proto Man 3 (World 2011)

The Top 10 Underrated Non-Franchise Action Platformers for the NES


Games like Ninja Gaiden

#11: Wrath of the Black Manta (JP November 17, 1989; NA April, 1990; EU January 24, 1991)

Why is this game even on the list. Honestly I only had 10 games, but this Strider clone is fun... I think? I don't even feel like talking about it, so that should speak to the shit quality.

#10: Hokuto no Ken (JPN October 10, 1986)

If more games features awesome backdrops, cool enemy design, and exploding heads, they'd be on this list. Not nearly as good as the sequel, but it certainly has it's charm. Ken walks about as fast as Robocop, like he does in the anime. The sequel suffers from the same problem, and jumping around is much faster.

#9: Karnov (December 18, 1987; NA 1988)

Karnov feature some of the weirdest and most memorable enemy design on the NES. The NES was about to have an explosion of games around 1989, using new technologies. Karnov still uses a one-way mapper, and was a pretty big title in America. You can probably pick this up from your local used game store.

Joystiq thought the game was creepy, and maybe it is a little unsettling.

#8: Shadow of the Ninja / Blue Shadow (JP August 10, 1990; NA January 1991)

Natsume no doubt adapted the Shadow of the Ninja engine into Shatterhand (#4). It features co-op play, sadly lacking in Shatterhand. Shadow of the Ninja is almost impossible. It's ten times more difficult than Ninja Gaiden. You get 1 life and 5 continues. Be prepared to spend several solid days, if not weeks, mastering this game.

#7: Trojan (JP December 24, 1986; NA February 1987)

Another ultra-common cart, and an excellent game. It doesn't emulate properly in JNES and others, but I think NNNesterJ will probably run it, because it has proven to be the most reliable emulator in my experience. With that said, JNES uses much less system resources.

This game is like Ghosts and Goblins, and about as difficult. You get only get three lives, but if you hold UP you can continue forever. Strange programming, but effectively two difficulty settings: cheater or awesome. Thanks for making me feel like a cheater, Capcom.

It's the post-Apocalypse, and you are so angry you decide to beat the shit out of street gangs with your Ancient Greek Weapons. Trojan feels cheap at times, but the levels are varied, detailed, and once you start to learn it's quirks, Trojan becomes pretty fun for 30 minutes or until you break the controller.

#6: Fist of the North Star (Japan, April 17, 1987; NA April, 1989)

This is the real classic of all Fist of the North Star games. You play, of course, as Ken. Your mission: kill everyone (damn, these games are so violent!) by exploding them with your fists or kicking them with the force of lightning. The cart is pretty common as well, and even if it is a franchise these games don't count because exactly 100 people know what Fist of the North Star is.

#5: Karateka (Japan 1984)

Before Prince of Persia staring Jake Gillen-Something, there was Karateka. Most people will probably hate this game, and North America never saw a release on the NES. The Famicom version is my favorite, but it was also released for Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Atari 7800, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum, and Nintendo Game Boy. Still, it remains pretty obscure and primitive compared to Prince of Persia, but the simple karate fighting is better than anything else the NES has to offer. Games like Kung Fu, Karate Champ, and Karate Heros just feel stupid, with nonsense obstacles and enemies. Karateka puts the player in the role of a Kung Fu movie action hero, kicking ass on his way to the final boss.

#4: Shatterhand (JP October 26, 1991; NA December 1991; EU November 19, 1992)

Ninjas had been done to death at this point in the NES's life, but action-hero stereotypes never got old. Shatter hand is the story of a cop who lost his arms and gained the ability to fight global criminal organizations.

Tokkyuu Shirei - Solbrain in Japan. America gets a much harder non-carnival stage for level C, and an overall better game, if only slightly. The NA sprites are a little cooler, and the lack of the Japanese story is a plus. The North American intro more effective and extremely awesome.

Shatterhand uses his cybernetic fists to explode people. If he picks up Alpha and Beta powerups, he can build 8 different robots. ABB is by far the best. Build it twice, and you get a near-invincible power suit for 15 seconds, usually right before the boss. You can even block bullets with your fists. The coolest gimmick is clinging on to chain link fences in many stages.

The music sounds all self-similar, but solid enough. Shatterhand is polished and well worth everyone's time.

#3: Journey to Silius (JP August 10, 1990; NA September 1990)

Originally designed to be a Terminator game, and still one of the best games on the NES. The levels are long, but there are only 5. You get a new weapon before every boss as well. Amazing music.

#2: Vice: Project Doom (JP April 26, 1991; NA November 1991)

A blatant Ninja Gaiden ripoff, and thank god because, like Ninja Gaiden, this game is awesome. This game features 2 driving, 2 shooting, and about 18 platforming levels broken up over 11 stages. A must have for any collector. Nintendo Power readers were treated to full-coverage and the cover of issue 24.

I really like the stage 11 music. Unlimited continues make this game quite beatable with a little patience.

#1: Metal Storm (JP April 1992; NA February 1991)

Another game which appeared on the cover of Nintendo Power, Metal Storm is of the highest quality. But because it's not part of a franchise, editors at IGN, Gamespot, etc. didn't play it as a kid and it gets overlooked or ranked around #50 in popular lists of NES games. Don't let the mediocre attention fool you; this is one of the best platformers of all time. You can flip gravity at any time, and choose between several weapon powerups, like most of these other games. R-Type never managed to be quite as good as Gradius, it's a shame Irem decided to turn that game into a franchise instead of this one.

Instead of annoying gimmicks, like in Ninja Gaiden 2, Metal Storm manages to keep things interesting in truly unconventional ways. Stage 1 lets the player get a feel for the controls and collect a few weapons before a pretty fun boss fight. Stage 2 starts to play with hypermazes and infinite fall tunnels, and shows how looping the top and bottom of a platforming level can be exploited to interesting effect. Stage 3 has a track with enemies through the entire level, Stage 4 takes place in a moving cage, Stage 5 has a laser beam chasing the player, and Stage 6 pushes the limits of the hypermazes and gravity flips. Stage 7 is a boss rush mode and a disappointment, but overall the game remains and classic and a personal favorite.

I remember running this on the Physics Lab computer in high school.

Hunt down the Japanese rom, several improvements were introduced. The M-308 Gunner looks more like a mobile suit thanks the the white sprites.

It also features one of the most classic NES tunes of all time, "Electric Win," as well as many other excellent tracks.

Most of the games are variations on the same genre, so I hope this list didn't become too repetitive. I can only praise the art and controls so many times before it becomes pointless space filler. Popular franchises like Batman and TMNT get plenty of attention, and likely everyone is aware of those games. Powerblade 1 and 2 technically became a franchise and I probably should have included both in this list, especially with the Fist of the North Star games. The list, however, is done, and I'm not changing it, but expect a Powerblade extravaganza in the future.

Did I forget your favorite game? Make your case for an underrated action platformer in the comments.