W- I have to admit that I was underwhelmed with Pilotwings. I didn’t think anything about it stood out as being special. The gameplay is tricky and disjointed-feeling, and I rarely felt like I had little control over the situations I was presented with. Perhaps patience is required to truly understand this game, but there wasn’t any incentive for me to do such a thing. I’d pass this up for some better SNES fare.
All posts for the month December, 2009
Posted by WildcatJF on December 31, 2009
1988 brought about my first game purchase! I mentioned it in my 1985 piece, but I can go into a little more detail here.
I’ve (so far) lived in a relatively tiny community my whole life. Back in ’88, there was a small Sears catalog store that mostly sold appliances, but one could order items from their catalog to be sent to outlet stores. I remember walking into ours with my mother on my birthday. We passed by washers, vacuums and refrigerators up to the counter. A gentleman with a beard was there, and my mom told him what we were there for. The memory’s a little fuzzy, but I do recall holding a pristine, unopened copy of Super Mario Bros. 2. As my mom paid for it, I stared at the box’s backcopy. I couldn’t tell you a lick of what it said now, but I was entranced by the thought of taking another trip through Mario’s world. Once I removed the old standby SMB, slid in the brand new cartridge, and pressed power, an unfamiliar tune poured from the TV speakers. The title screen, in its red and blue splendor, beckoned me towards starting the game. My first new game. It wouldn’t be the last.
While Mario 2 was an enjoyable experience, it pales compared to some of 1988′s other titles I had the luck of replaying down the road. Alas, I have little more to add, but next month! Next month there’s a bit more to tell.
The final “official” chapter in the Bard’s Tale saga, players were reintroduced to the first game’s domain of Skara Brae, newly devastated and needing a group of heroes (and, for the first time, heroines!) to try to defeat a new evil. Further refinements and graphical improvements make this the finest part of the saga.
Pool of Radiance places you in command of a squad of customizable heroes and heroines in a quest to discover the Pool of Radiance. Being the first computer game to unitize the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons license, PoR captures the franchise very well, with huge, epic battles, a high degree of adventure, and a rich narrative backing the quest.
Contra’s successful NES port epitomizes the run-n-gun genre: tense gameplay balancing between shooting and platforming. With wild level designs, quirky alien bosses, an array of weaponry to collect, a high challenge level, and a solid two-player mode, Contra is a frantic delight.
Bionic Commando (NES, Capcom)
Bionic Commando builds upon the original title’s arcade foundation, taking the bionic arm concept to untold heights. Radd needs to defeat the diabolical BADD army, sabotage their newest weapon, the Albatross, and rescue Commando alum Super Joe. Unable to jump, Radd Spenser must swing his arm to latch onto ceilings, poles and other surfaces to fly over gaps and spikes. A wonderful game.
In my opinion, the best game of 1988 was…
I have to say that this is one of those games that took a lot of practice to fully appreciate. Bionic Commando remains unique with its inability to jump. It takes time and patience to master swinging the bionic arm to traverse the game’s levels, but once you get familiar with the concept, the reward is fantastic. It’s certainly one of the finest executions of a different style of platforming I’ve come across in all my years as a gamer. The ramp-up of challenge in the level design pushes your knowledge and reflexes excellently. You may think you’re starting to get the hang of the arm, only to discover that the game’s got far more challenging obstacles in store for you. Beyond the awesome bionic arm, the shooting gameplay is also top-notch. Radd can upgrade his gun along the way to 4 other weapon types, which all have their own advantages and weaknesses. As Radd conquers BADD grunts, they’ll drop capsules which, as you accumulate them, will boost Radd’s life meter up a notch, which is a necessary exercise. The troops become more aggressive and diverse as you get deeper into BADD territory, and despite the arsenal options, you’ll be thankful that you spent some time leveling up your lifebar. Another perk is that Capcom put in a mode that replicates the precursor to Bionic Commando. If your helicopter crosses paths with an enemy truck, you’ll be forced into a Commando-style level that duplicates the gameplay of Capcom’s arcade hit with a small twist; your bionic arm comes into play as a way to knock away those pesky soldiers. It’s also the only way to gather up continues, which are very important! All and all, Bionic Commando is well worth the time to delve into. Its gameplay takes some adjustment, but once it clicks, the game becomes phenomenal.
Some personal anecdotes:
Despite Capcom’s efforts to censor the game’s original Nazism angle, it remains blatantly obvious. Look at that screenshot above: how could you not put together that that was Hitler? Between this, the mild profanity you see above you, and the bloody pixel mess of Hitler’s head post-rocket insertion at the end of the game, Capcom (inadvertently?) pulled off one hell of a censorship slip in one of the tightest times the industry has had. You’ll want to look at my Cultural Anxiety piece for more on the game’s localization.
Beating Area 6 for me was finally connecting to the game. I became so excited that I conquered the stage I had been stuck on forever that I plowed through the rest of the game at a pace that startles me now. Man, what a fun ride.
I consider the denial of Bionic Commando on the Virtual Console to be one of the dumbest things Nintendo’s done this gen. It doesn’t make any rational sense. They let BC slide when it came out on Capcom Classics Mini-Mix! Why refuse it now? Gah!
Worst Game of the Year: Anticipation (NES, Nintendo/Rare)
Board games and video games seem like a decent fit together, don’t they? Remove some of the tedium of counting money, moving pieces and whatnot. Well, Anticipation makes a valiant effort to create a Pictionary style of video game, but goes on to cripple its efforts with a clunky interface. The goal of the game is to guess pictures. To guess them, you have to clumsily select each individual letter that makes up that word under a time limit. All the while the game slowly draws out the image. It’s clunky. A multiple choice option could have streamlined the process immensely, but nope, you need to tediously hunt down each letter to spell the whole word out or it’s considered wrong. A PC version of this may have sufficed, but using the NES pad to spell is boring. Sorry, Rare, but this effort wasn’t worth it.
Contender: Altered Beast (Arcade, Sega)
Surprise of the Year: Cobra Command (NES, Data East)
Now, this is completely based on memory. I’d like to own this one day and see if my memory is accurate. With that said, I remember this being a lot of fun. Hunting down hidden P.O.W.’s, blasting away enemy troops and buildings, and the game having a nice overall feel to it…yeah, I was surprised at how much joy I had when I was young. Time will tell if those recollections are at all sound.
Contender: Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja (Arcade, Data East)
Disappointment of the Year: NARC (Arcade, Midway/Williams)
This isn’t a horrible game at all, per say (save Mr. Big, who is the longest and most obnoxious boss I think I’ve ever had to deal with in an arcade game). It’s pretty rudimentary, and it relies a lot on shock value to push its game design along. Yes, there’s violence, drugs and even more violence, but it feels really average and uninteresting once those taboos become commonplace. End of the first level, perhaps? I guess I was expecting more out of it than what I got.
Best New Hero: Radd Spenser (Bionic Commando, NES, Capcom)
Radd Spenser (or Nathan, as Capcom refers to him now) is a great design. He embodies a lot of Japanese anime characteristics, like the spiky hair and large weaponry. His bionic arm gimmick sets him apart from the pack, though. He looks freaking badass swinging around Nazi battlegrounds and shooting up the infantry, and his original look remains his best. A great design. Capcom needs to remember it, because they keep changing it!
Contender: Jason (Blaster Master, NES, Sunsoft)
Best New Heroine: Princess Toadstool (Super Mario Bros. 2, NES, Nintendo)
Peach isn’t much of a heroine, I know. TEi picks her apart quite well in the clip below, and I don’t disagree with him.
However, given the relative barren field of choices in 1988…there’s not many other viable options. Peach is at least playable in Super Mario Bros. 2 and has a unique power none of the other characters have through her floating jump.She’s arguably the best character in that game, dream-world or not. And there has been a few cases down the Mario trail Peach hasn’t been a mere plot device, providing a weak incentive towards punching Bowser in the face. So yeah. Samus Aran or Jade she is not, but she is a woman doing heroic things in this game, so she gets my vote.
Next month’s will be better. :p
Contender: As of right now, I can’t pick a second contender.
Best New Villain: Master-D (Bionic Commando, NES, Capcom)
Borrowed (and edited) from an Enemy Encounters piece:
Localization can be fun sometimes. Especially when you’re supposed to censor objectionable content…but you don’t and somehow magically get away with it. Case in point: Hitler popping up in Bionic Commando (as Master-D, mind, but it’s OBVIOUSLY Hitler). Now, as a boss itself, Hitler is pretty tame. He has his melodramatic (and profane) moment of reviving, kills Gen. Killt, and then attempts to ride off in the Albatross, only to meet a gruesome (quite) end by having a rocket explode his face. This happens within like ten minutes. However, to NES players this stunning revelation and gory demise was quite poignant. Radd Spenser had swung, shot and hacked his way through the various areas of the BADD headquarters in order to stop the resurrection of Hitler? That’s badd (sorry) ass to the max. And you stop him by RPG’ing his head into a bloody display of pixelation unrivaled on the console? He may be a brief pitstop on the overall scheme of the game, but damn if it wasn’t memorable or satisfying. I can only imagine what it was like witnessing such brazen ignoring of the strict rules Nintendo laid in place in those days.
Contender: Wart (Super Mario Bros. 2, NES, Nintendo)
Best New Enemy: Phanto (Super Mario Bros. 2, NES, Nintendo)
Borrowed (and edited) from a different Enemy Encounters piece (caution: Red Dead Redemption spoilers at that link!):
I distinctly remember the first time I picked up a key in Mario 2 with a few masks lurking in the background, suddenly noticing that one of those masks was now making a beeline towards me. I dodged the invader, but it came right back at me with a vengeance. Maybe exiting the pipe would help? OMG no it didn’t! Throwing the key away made it disappear for a bit, but upon grabbing it again Phanto came right back. I’m a little dumbfounded why Nintendo hasn’t utilized it more in Mario games. Such a underutilized classic.
Contender: Shyguys (Super Mario Bros. 2, NES, Nintendo)
Worst New Character: Neff (Altered Beast, Arcade, Sega)
A pasty bald man in a shabby robe can be a master villain in the ’80′s? I will grant him adequate transformation magic, and his poorly recorded speech is funny, but I see little other merit in his lackluster design. Compared to our barbarian heroes, who at least hulk out into kickass animal forms, Neff is boring. I’ve come to realize that he does morph into some sort of purple armored rhino thing at the end, but that doesn’t quite make up for his vapid design otherwise. And what kind of a name is Neff, anyway? That’s like naming your antagonist “Loser”.
Contender: Mr. Big (NARC, Arcade, Midway/Williams)
Best Box Art: Ghouls N’ Ghosts (Arcade, Capcom)
Wow, this makes up for some of Capcom’s weaker efforts from the last couple years. It’s striking, it’s in line with the game, and it has nice composition. Very nicely done.
Contender: The New Zealand Story (Arcade, Taito)
Worst Box Art: Rock Star Ate My Hamster (Amiga, Codemasters)
Holy fuck, what the hell is this? That is the WORST Michael Jackson caricature I think I’ve laid eyes on. Awkward pooping face, heaps of sweat, and horrid colors add up to a disturbing image that I don’t think I will forget anytime soon. Gah.
Contender: Barbarian II: The Dungeon of Drax (Palace)
Best Song: Blaster Master – Level 1 (NES, Sunsoft, Naoki Kodaka)
This was a close one. Contra, Bionic Commando and The Bard’s Tale III all had amazing songs, but in the end I had to go with Blaster Master’s masterful (sorry again) introductory tune. It is such a perfect way to kick off a game. Kudos, Naoki Kodaka!
Contender: Level 3 – Contra (NES, Konami, Hidenori Maezawa, Kyouhei Sada, KONAMI KuKeiHa Club)
Best Soundtrack: Contra (NES, Konami, Hidenori Maezawa, Kyouhei Sada, KONAMI KuKeiHa Club)
Again, this was another close call. Contra wins out due to its overall quality with nary a bad tune in sight. Bionic Commando has a somewhat bothersome boss theme, and Blaster Master has a couple I’m not super enthused about, but Contra is the complete package of soundtrack quality.
Contender: Blaster Master (NES, Sunsoft, Naoki Kodaka)
Worst Song: Bionic Commando – Boss Theme (NES, Capcom, Junko Tamiya)
The majority of Bionic Commando’s soundtrack is awesome, and would be third place for overall soundtrack of the year (if I went that far). Alas, this one song, played at the boss showdowns, has a painfully short loop and irritates me after a while. Not the worst of offenders, but still annoying.
Posted by WildcatJF on December 30, 2009
Welcome to a new feature that I hope to try to do at least twice a month, if not more – pick one example of excellent box art, and explain why I like it, and then tackle an absolutely awful one, and make fun of it. Easy enough, right?
Good: Castlevania (NES, Konami)
Konami had the rare capability to create box art that wasn’t god-awful in the NES era, and Castlevania is a shining example of this talent. The essence of the game is perfectly rendered on this box – a bold warrior, whip in hand, squares off against the evil Count Dracula (or at least, a vampire, but I figured it was Dracula on first glance, myself), and the demonic castle that gives the series its namesake is prominently featured. Moody colors and the striking silver border surrounding the art create a haunting motif that remains a highlight of the NES era.
Bad: M.U.L.E. (NES, Mindscape)
I was a little taken aback by this box art in how unrepresentative it was to the source material. Mindscape mucked up the gameplay in their port, so I suppose that I shouldn’t be all that surprised that the box gets so many things wrong as well. Where to start? Perhaps the fact we have a bloody HORSE on the cover? A normal, non-robotic equine at that. Game’s called M.U.L.E., guys, not H.O.R.S.E. Problem #2 is the flag the over-intrepid humanoid is holding. America had NOTHING to do with the original game…why put in an American flag now? Flags are not even a component of the gameplay! And why is the flag not blowing in the wind like the astronaut’s hair, eh? Lastly, why are all the aliens bowing down to the humanoid like he’s a Greek God? There’s no concept of hero worship in M.U.L.E. whatsoever. It’s such a shame that this was the last title in the franchise until 2009′s Planet M.U.L.E., which manages to properly update the style of the original title without making a mockery of the product…unlike this pathetic box.
Posted by WildcatJF on December 30, 2009
Shinkiro kicked out a new piece of art for it and everything! This happy holiday wish from Capcom can be checked out here.
Posted by WildcatJF on December 24, 2009
The man behind Chrono Trigger is feeling the Xmas spirit, and has put up a nice piano tune on his website for his fans to listen to. You can head here to give it a listen (let the Flash intro load).
Tip to GoNintendo.
Posted by WildcatJF on December 24, 2009
Nintendo’s been on a fairly decent roll these last few weeks, eh?
W- Sunsoft’s classic is a fantastic early blend of genres: there’s plenty of shooting action, exploration in two different perspectives, RPG-esque bits, and some very challenging boss battles, all mixed up with top-notch NES visuals and one of the best soundtracks of the 8-bit era. Tight controls round up a perfect package of NES gaming bliss. This comes highly recommended!
Super Smash Bros.
W- For those more acquainted with Melee and Brawl, going back to the N64 original is a little awkward. The two sequels have added so much to the franchise’s core that it will take a little readjustment to get back into the simpler gameplay groove of the first. However, that’s not to say that this is terrible or bad. The excellent fighting engine is here, and after getting used to not being able to air-dodge, use side special move or charge smash attacks, the fun, chaotic, free-for-all atmosphere is here in spades. Some of the series’ best stages are here, too – I adore Saffron City, the Mushroom Kingdom and Hyrule Castle, which never got a second chance to shine, alas (the Melee retro choices make no sense to me XD ). And the character choices, while a meager 12, happen to be the most important main characters in the Nintendo universe, and the novelty of these titans duking it out remains well preserved in this. If you like the series, it’s definitely worth considering a DL.
Posted by WildcatJF on December 23, 2009
Posted by WildcatJF on December 19, 2009
How are these round-ups working out for everyone? I think it’s better to split out major reports of personal interest, and lump smaller items into one post. I hope this layout pleases you as much as it does me.
Iwata Asks tackled Miyamoto a little while ago – now it’s Takashi Tezuka and Toshihiko Nakago’s turn. These two have been involved with Mario titles since the beginning, and this revealing conversation unveils many Mario mythos in the process.
A new promo trailer of Capcom’s awesome looking Ghost Trick. Clever cameo hunters will spot a certain famous ace attorney lurking in there, which only adds to its coolness.
The Euro trailer for Fragile Dreams has come out, and it’s very spooky and atmospheric looking. I’m very hyped for this game.
Posted by WildcatJF on December 11, 2009
I’ve been clamoring for it for years, and I inadvertently discovered that some wonderful people over at Blue Systems have modernized the classic as Planet M.U.L.E., complete with new spritework that fits like a glove, and gifted it with online play to boot. I assure you, I’ll be looking into this ASAP and will post impressions in the near future. I can only hope it matches up to the original!
And it’s FREE and officially supported by the Bunten family! This is a dream come true! Dani Bunten Barry would have been ecstatic to know her legacy once again lives on.
Thanks Destructoid for making my day!
Posted by WildcatJF on December 9, 2009
1987 was a key year for me. For Christmas in ’86, I got a NES as my big present. Packed inside was Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. The former was, as I mentioned before, revolutionary to my young mind. It was obsessively compelling, and there were times that I got in trouble because I yearned to revisit the Mushroom Kingdom. The TV was not in my room (and would not be for several more years), so despite my youthful urges, I had to be cleared to play games by my parents (which was probably a good thing in hindsight…). My parents have sometimes debated if buying me a NES was a mistake. :p I’m glad that they did, though, because gaming has been a massive part of my livelihood, and I wouldn’t want to have missed the experiences, joys and thrills that this medium have given me.
I would not be getting any new games until the following year, so Mario and Ducks were all I had to go on for a while. Luckily for me, a local video rental place started carrying NES games around the time that I got my NES, so one of my great pleasures was going there and checking out games. SMB was a behemoth for any game to compare itself to, and I relished the chance to try out new genres and frontiers. Most did not match up to Mario’s stellar gameplay execution, but as a kid, sometimes even the crappiest games were incredibly engrossing in some way. I seem to remember slogging my way through Godzilla just because I could. Somehow it captivated me, despite it being little more than a slow-paced button masher. And then there’s Back to the Future Parts II and III, which, for the life of me I don’t quite understand, I adored the rental of that. Looking back on it, I’m not really sure why…it was nothing too spectacular, and it certainly wasn’t true to the movie (a rare feat in the NES era, let me tell you :p ), but those collect-a-thon mini-stages were awesome to my little boy brain back then. Go figure.
My mom had a daycare, and early on, she would let other kids play the console with me. I distinctly remember renting Joust, and not having any sort of idea of what the hell I was doing. It soon turned into an over-competitive gauntlet for the controller, however, so that practice quickly subsided. It was a brief introduction of multiplayer gaming, and the possibilities it presented were tantalizing, to say the least.
The NES and I would be spending many years together. Until 1993 or so, it was the only gaming box I had. I got the Commodore 64 around 1993, and a Nintendo 64 in 1996. Many cherished memories would come from that tiny gray box of digital miracles, and the years to come would be some of the most groundbreaking to my youth.
As the young boy Link, you must recover the hidden Triforce of Wisdom shards, buried deep within diabolical dungeons. During your quest across the vast world of Hyrule, you’ll gather special gear and weapons to help make your adventure easier or to traverse obstacles to find secret passages.
As the brave vampire hunter Simon Belmont, you’ll whip your way through the punishing halls of the evil Count Dracula’s castle, defeating various monstrous demons and conquering the difficult level designs with deft footwork. You can collect special weapons and hearts to power them, as well as boost the strength of your whip, Vampire Killer.
Samus Aran, a bounty hunter, has been deployed to the remote planet of Zebes to defeat a space pirate called Mother Brain. Zebes is a labyrinth of open-ended subterranean tunnels and caves clock full of nasty alien life, but Samus has the ability to pick up items that boost her Power Suit’s gadgetry capabilities. Tons of hidden paths reward patient players, and those who have mastered the game will be rewarded with one of the more “shocking” revelations of the NES era: finding out that Samus is a woman!
This isometric action title boasts remarkable backgrounds, tense gameplay and tons of ninja weaponry to wield. Careful footwork and a quick hand to attack are all keys to truly embracing your ninjahood.
In my opinion, the best game of 1987 was…
The Legend of Zelda is to this day one of my favorite gaming experiences. The incredibly huge world for its time was perfectly sized, packed with so many tricks and hidden passages that a plucky gamer could spend hours randomly bombing walls, flaming bushes, or pushing rocks to uncover them all…if they had the right tools to do such a thing, that is. Shops supply some items to Link, but the majority of the nifty gizmos Link can use are locked up tight within the game’s nine dungeons. While they are not as puzzle-heavy as later games in the series, the balance between action and exploration is perfect. With a variety of enemy types to deal with, including such legends as Wall Masters, Like Likes, Dodongos and Gohmas, the combat is gratifying and diverse. The boss fights are as engaging as the NES could probably handle, and after defeating Ganon and rescuing Princess Zelda, a second quest appears, offering a more difficult trek through a remapped, retooled Hyrule. The enemies are tougher, the dungeons relocated and punishing, and served as a perfect reward for gamers who hungered for more.
I remember very well burning the first bush that led to a secret stairwell, untangling the chaotic Lost Woods maze to end up in the graveyard, inadvertently stumbling into the waterfall to find a hidden cave, discovering that Athos statues can come to life if you touch them, using the Whistle to drain the entrance to a cleverly disguised dungeon, riding the raft, fighting the seemingly invincible Digdogger (figuring out that the whistle was needed to greatly weaken him was a pleasant untangling of the game’s occasionally obtuse hint system in my younger days), feeding bombs to Dodongo, being grabbed by a Wall Master, fuming after a Like Like swiped my Blue Ring and Magic Shield by my clumsy mistake…in short, this game is packed full of memorable moments that imprinted themselves to my gaming meddle. This is exactly what games are supposed to do! This concept, born from Shigeru Miyamoto’s early childhood wandering the Japanese countryside, has left its mark again and again on countless gamers all over the world.
Some personal anecdotes:
This game and I have a funny habit of losing each other. I owned the NES game twice. I gave them to friends to play, never to see them again. I’ve closely guarded my Gamecube Collector’s Disc, as it remains the only copy of the game I currently own. I could download it onto my Wii, sure, but why do that when I don’t need to? I have become very protective of my games because of this, rarely lending them out to anyone, even to people I trust.
My dad got into the original Zelda quite a bit. He arguably spent as much time playing it as I did when we first bought it. However, the gaming bug did not hold onto him, and it took the Wii all these years later to reel him (and my mom, who isn’t a game player by any stretch of the imagination) back in. I suppose I should alert him to being able to download this, eh?
I sat down and properly beat the Second Quest the summer of 2010. I was very happy to be able to check that obstacle off of my checklist. I still like the first one more, but it didn’t disappoint with its high degree of challenge.
Starting this year, I will be much more thorough with my award giving, including Surprise and Disappointments of the Year, dividing Heroes and Heroines into separate categories, covering the best overall soundtrack of a game, and also giving nominees to all of the awards. As I officially became a console owner in 1987 with the NES, it feels appropriate to dig deeper into these choices.
Worst Game of the Year: Street Fighter (Arcade, Capcom)
Street Fighter is a fine concept marred by poor execution. As a successor to Karate Champ and its other martial-arts cousins, it fails to capture the precision of those title’s controls. It instead relies on delayed responses and wonky movement to power its gameplay, and those give a player little motivation to keep plugging away at it. Granted, the original control scheme was meant to use two joysticks: one that would move Ryu around and the other to create attacks. Alas, that too didn’t work due to the sluggishness of the character’s reactions to the button inputs we see now. As for the visuals, the backgrounds are pretty nice, but the character design and animation leave much to be desired. Luckily, Ryu, Ken, Sagat, Adon, Birdie, Gen and Eagle would have a chance to see their initially uninspiring designs see significant improvement in later games. To sum up, clunky gameplay and somewhat dull graphics do not add up to awesomeness. Those traits would arrive with the sequel.
Contender: Avengers (Arcade, Capcom)
Surprise of the Year: Black Tiger (Arcade, Capcom)
Black Tiger’s a good mix of arcade action and platforming. It’s definitely an quarter-muncher in terms of its difficulty, but the game world is rather unique, the controls are responsive enough, and there’s plenty of opportunity to expand your stats and march into these levels with a sense of confidence. Black Tiger is also a fairly impressive hero with his long-range mace/dagger combo. If only his shield did something. :p
Contender: Side Pocket (Arcade, Data East)
Disappointment of the Year: Bionic Commando (Arcade, Capcom)
Having played the superior NES game first, realizing that the arcade original was so substandard was pretty hard to take. It lacks the precision, flow and fluidity of the NES game, coming off as clunky and, as much as I don’t want to say it, boring. There’s really no need to try out this one compared to its excellent cousin.
Contender: Mega Man (NES, Capcom)
Best New Hero: Mega Man (NES, Capcom)
Ah, Classic Mega Man is one of the legends of the gaming pantheon, and he wholeheartedly deserves the status. I love the little guy. He’s a great design with a great mechanic backing him (stealing the weapons of his opponents), and Capcom had managed to maintain his awesomeness despite overdoing his sequels nonstop in the NES era. He’ll always be one of the best examples of an action game hero in my eyes.
Contender: Link (Legend of Zelda, NES, Nintendo)
Best New Heroine: Samus Aran (Metroid, NES, Nintendo)
Samus is a complex character, that she is. Her origins were shrouded in her heavy armor, and her sex was a revelation revealed through a …lingerie striptease. :p However, despite the occasional sexist angles her designers have put her through over the years, Samus Aran is one of the finest woman protagonists in all of gaming lore. Her wide arsenal and her Power Suit abilities are unique and incredibly cool. I really like playing as Samus, and two of her adventures, Super Metroid and Metroid Prime, are among the greatest games ever made in my book, so I definitely consider her an incredible leader for female character design.
Contender: Alas, I haven’t played any other games that star a female protagonist from 1987 enough to proclaim a second place winner. I’d count the roller skater from California Games, but that’s sort of cheating. XD
Best New Villain: Ganon (Legend of Zelda, NES, Nintendo)
Ganon is such a terrific antagonist. His first appearance here was terrifying, as he drifted around his lair under a cloak of invisibility, and without the right tools he would quickly shrug off Link’s attacks. As he evolved over the years his dastardly deeds would increase, and his design would become more wicked and sinister, developing into Ocarina of Time’s Ganondorf, which is my personal favorite of his many personae. A masterful and powerful force in evil, without question.
Contender: Ridley (Metroid, NES, Nintendo)
Best New Enemy: Metroids (Metroid, NES, Nintendo)
Borrowed from an Enemy Encounters article:
The most fearsome game enemy in existence to me is a Metroid. I remember back when I got to Tourian in the original Metroid and being freaked out when these jellyfish-like enemies began flying my way. Panic is a natural instinct that occurs once they latch onto you, leeching away all of the hard-earned energy you spent a lot of time replenishing for the final battle.
Aye, I love these jellyfish-inspired aliens. Among the most terrifying enemies in all of gaming!
Contender: Reapers (Kid Icarus, NES, Nintendo)
Worst New Character: Rastan (Arcade, Taito)
Rastan is a very blase barbarian type, with very little to distinguish him from the army of other barbarians that permeate gaming of this era. His clunky animation, lackluster moveset and slow response time doesn’t aid his cause. A boring, typical stereotype hero that could have used some significant time in the development oven.
Contender: Duke Davis (Bad Street Brawler, NES, Mattel)
Best Box Art: Castlevania (NES, Konami)
Taken from an Artistic Discussion:
Konami had the rare capability to create box art that wasn’t god-awful in the NES era, and Castlevania is a shining example of this talent. The essence of the game is perfectly rendered on this box. A bold warrior, whip in hand, squares off against the evil Count Dracula (or at least, a vampire, but I figured it was Dracula on first glance, myself), and the demonic castle that gives the series its namesake is prominently featured. Moody colors and the striking silver border surrounding the art create a haunting motif that remains a highlight of the NES era.
Contender: Galaga ’88 (Arcade, Namco)
Worst Box Art: Mega Man (NES, Capcom)
Borrowed from my Artistic Discussion rant:
There’s so many things wrong here that it’s hard even to begin. Mega Man’s pose is awkward in multiple ways: his legs jut out at odd angles, his shoulders are too far forward, his left arm is holding the gun unrealistically, his helmet is off-center, his right arm is not drawn to scale, his boots look like they were merely colored over his original legs…etc. The background fails perspective 101 practically everywhere, with only the explosives resembling anything that looks like…what it should be, I suppose. The random palm trees that abruptly cut off, the bizarre domes that are in the foreground that seem to serve no purpose other than adding some buttcrack peaches into the mix, and god, I could keep going. When the best part of your box is the nifty 80′s grid BEHIND your composition, there’s a problem!
Contender: Avengers (Arcade, Capcom)
Best Song: Wicked Child (Castlevania, NES, Konami, Kinuyo Yamashita)
Taken from a Song Highlights:
Man, how I do love me some Wicked Child. Definitely one of the finest NES compositions, this tune captures the frantic pace of the third section of the game perfectly. With its tough foes (especially the Fleamen, whose random hops manage to tie into this tune very well), high amount of pits, and the ambient scenery of scaling the castle’s walls and towers, this is a lovely example of how to properly set up a tense mood with your gaming music. I wonder why Konami hasn’t brought back this classic into the modern Castlevanias…scared of living up to the awesomeness of the original, perhaps?
Contender: Norfair (Metroid, NES, Nintendo, Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka)
Best Soundtrack: Metroid (NES, Nintendo, Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka)
From its ominous introduction to its atmospheric caves to the decadent conclusion, Metroid’s overall soundtrack is among the finest on the NES. All of it suits the place it represents, and almost all of it has been revived one way or another down the road. Tanaka did a splendid job with the variety and quality of this game’s music.
Contender: Castlevania (NES, Konami, Kinuyo Yamashita)
Worst Song: Stage Select Theme (Street Fighter, Capcom, Arcade, Yoshihiro Sakaguchi)
The song in question starts about 0:30 in. Sakaguchi is quite capable of good music, but the majority of Street Fighter’s soundtrack doesn’t showcase his talent. This grating stage select theme stands out as the horrendous epitome. Perhaps he took some vital lessons from this game for his future projects. Don’t listen to it for too long!
Contender: Under Attack (Kid Icarus, Nintendo, NES, Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka)
Posted by WildcatJF on December 8, 2009