April 4, 2010
I recently unloaded a large swath of my personal video game collection. I gave the items to friends and to video game museums, free of charge. As is my custom, I took photos of everything I gave away, just for sentimental effect. I thought I’d post the photos in order to give readers ample opportunity to exclaim “OMG! You should have tried to sell whatever presumably rare item on eBay for hundreds of dollars!” It’s out of my hands now. Don’t worry, though. I didn’t give away all of my video games yet. I basically got rid of everything that’s not on optical media. Here is my complete game collection and I still have around 700 DOS/Windows games.
Click on any image for a much higher resolution photograph.
NES Console Lot
- Official NES top loader: The SNES-style NES control deck; it still has the $99.95 price tag on it which is what I paid for it used. Hey, it was worth it. I bought it in (I think) 2002 and the thing was far more reliable than any standard front-loaders that I still owned at the time (all since discarded).
- RetroUSB’s NES PowerPak: I was one of the first people to buy one of these. It took me about 3 years to finally get around to trying to use it and I couldn’t make it work. I didn’t try very hard, though, and I didn’t care enough to try harder. I hope the new owner has better luck.
- 2 new style controllers; 1 old style controller
- 1 Light Zapper Gun (in the original grey styling; purchased 1989)
NES Cartridge Lot #1
Dragon Warrior II is certainly the most valuable of this lot.
- The Adventures of Lolo III
- Air Fortress
- Alien Syndrome
- Arkista’s Ring
- Batman: Return of the Joker
- Blaster Master
- A Boy and His Blob
- Captain Skyhawk
- Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
- The Chessmaster
- Deja Vu
- Desert Commander
- Double Dragon
- Double Dragon II
- Double Dragon III
- Dragon Spirit
- Duck Tales
- Dragon Warrior II
- Dr. Mario
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Gaming Memories,NES Games,SNES Games | Comments (2)
October 22, 2009
For at least the past 5 years, I have been seeing kiosk vendors in malls selling special video game systems. These items boast many games hardwired into devices which are just controllers with a few A/V cables for plugging directly into a television. You know the places — kiosks staffed by shady-looking, shifty-eyed characters who greet you with the customary, “You’re not a cop, right? Because you have to tell me if you are or else it’s entrapment.” It’s obvious to any video game geek that these systems are just some 8-bit NES emulation mechanism attached to a store of illicit NES ROMs, all packed inside the controller.
Really, it’s a nifty idea, just not altogether on the up-and-up. Creating and selling hardware that duplicates NES functionality is okay since the NES patents expired years ago. But the copyrights on the ROMs are in no way expired.
I was surprised to see one of these devices in a significantly more mainstream retail outlet– a Walgreens store, specifically. It was only $9.99 and claimed 101 games.
The most vivid screenshot on the package was quite obviously Arkanoid. When I turned on the unit (which requires unscrewing the battery cover to insert the batteries-not-included), I was greeted by Pac-Man:
I gave it a whirl. There are, in fact, 101 individual games (unlike that 1997-in-1 fraud I wrote about once) which I have listed at the end of this entry for reference. As an expert in American NES games, I know that most of them are games that were never released in America. Almost all of them are incredibly simple, obviously mapper-less games (memory mappers were used in NES cartridges to effectively expand the amount of data a game could have; lack of a mapper limits the possible size and complexity of a game). The most complex game I saw in the menu was Super C which used Nintendo’s MMC3 mapper hardware. Then again, the game had been stripped of its title screen and I didn’t play past the first level; it’s entirely possible that someone whittled this down to be an abbreviated, mapper-less version of the original game. I’m fairly confident that none of these games use battery backup features, thus obviating the need to emulate any non-volatile RAM.
As for actual gameplay, the experience is a bit disappointing. The joypad is very stiff. There are 4 buttons on the right side of the controller, but they’re actually just 2 A buttons and 2 B buttons. The select and start buttons sit just above the reset button which goes back to the Pac-Man greeting screen and that’s not a very user friendly feature. I was just getting into Super C when I noticed that particular problem.
Overall, this is probably as much of a letdown as that 1997-in-1 device. This device was cheaper, sure. But this device also required a little more time to notice how bad it is.
Here’s the full list of 101 games:
Posted by Multimedia Mike under NES Games | Comments (2)
October 19, 2009
More TAS capsules! Let’s go…
First, let’s do Prince of Persia, the NES version. I think I’ve seen this particular TAS at least 3 times but for some reason, I didn’t capture a series of screenshots. I know I’ve seen this play out entirely too many times. I remember playing the DOS version of the game a long time ago and I think I even made it out of the dungeon. It may have been groundbreaking at the time, and perhaps even offer some fascinating, puzzling, and challenging gameplay to this day. But you have to admit that it’s boring to watch even the speedrun and dull to perform the capture chore since so many places in the game all look the same.
Still, I managed to capture this frame of animation which makes it look like the prince has to go potty really bad:
From there, I moved on to Nosferatu for the SNES. Any description you can find of this game (save perhaps for its own box copy) will immediately peg it as a brazen Prince of Persia ripoff. Which it is, make no mistake. However, it’s a good deal more interesting to watch than the original PoP game. For starters, the hero is 100% badass as he takes down werewolves, Frankenstein monsters, zombies, mummies, and eventually Dracula himself, all with his fists (and feet of fury).
The graphics are significantly more appealing than in PoP. Everything in the castle gets into the act of trying to get the hero– the books in the library fly out at you and even the artwork comes to life and take you down. The only gripe I had with the graphics were that a number of outdoor scenes (where boss battles usually took place) did not make use of the parallax scrolling so commonly found in the 16-bit era. I would have to review the SNES internal technical documents again (my second favorite behind the NES) but I think these scenes might be using a graphical mode that only allows one plane due to a higher resolution or higher number of colors.
It should be noted that Dracula really dropped the ball as a manager when he promoted the zombie in the above screenshot to miniboss. I don’t think he was really up to the task. Every time the hero lands a hit, the zombie keels over and visibly vomits.
Journey to Silius (NES) brings back a lot of memories since I remember working hard to beat the game. Thankfully, the TAS demonstrates that the graphics and gameplay were diverse enough over its stages that it’s not an embarrassment to remember playing through the whole thing back in the day.
The most curious thing that stuck out at me based on the speedrun was that, according to the wanted posters in the background of level 1, there is a fugitive penguin on the loose:
I remember thinking that Wrath of the Black Manta (NES) was pretty lame back in the day, and that was before I really took the time to think through the things that are being presented to me in video games. Wrath has the eponymous ninja trotting the globe from New York City to Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro and back to New York City in order to bust up a drug ring and also get to the bottom of some kidnappings. The game would have us believe that a kidnapping victim had time to leave a detailed note about the kidnapping at the scene of the crime before he was abducted:
Also, the ninjas in this game can fly simply by attaching a sheet to their wrists and ankles. They remind me of cartoonish flying squirrels:
The final game from this set is the venerable Gradius (NES). If you’ve never taken the time to watch a TAS, this is a good time to start. Go to this Gradius TAS page and watch one of the video versions linked. As the page description notes, “This is probably one of the best illustrations on how to create art out of a simplistic and otherwise uninteresting game to watch.” It’s exhilarating and a static screenshot doesn’t begin to do it justice, but when has that ever stopped me? Here are the iconic Easter Island space heads from the series:
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Action Games,NES Games,SNES Games | Comments (0)
October 11, 2009
Time for more of these TAS capsules, as many as I can stand to do today.
I have played Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team (SNES) and I remember it being quite difficult. I’m glad to sit back and allow the TAS to take its course, which is highly entertaining. This game, as with any Battletoads title presents many different styles of gameplay and many unique quirks to the proceedings, while offering a great soundtrack. I’m still thankful I never bothered to try mastering all 7 levels.
I don’t remember much about Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers (NES) except that it was exceptionally easy. The TAS reminds me heavily of Clockwork Knight. I have to hand it to Fat Cat– he has enlisted quite a crew: He has the gangster lizards and gangster weasels (the latter wielding plunger guns), as well as the ninja flying squirrels.
The casino in the game ostensibly offers its customers the opportunity to wager on horse “darby”:
Maybe “derby” has trademark protection.
Werewolf: The Last Warrior (NES) is the most baffling and hilarious TAS I have watched in awhile. Mercifully, it was short at under 10 minutes. It’s a terribly buggy game and the TAS makes sharp use of that fact– occasionally, all sprites are gone (including the player) and the game just starts scrolling slowly around fields that are obviously incorrectly tiled:
Level 4 has enemies that feel the need to exclaim “OH!” for some reason:
When the eponymous hero reaches the house of the final boss, it’s a scientist-type guy who guzzles a bottle of something. I was waiting for him to turn into something ferocious and powerful, but he just turned into the same kind of werewolf that the character already was. How could the guy possibly expect to win? The hero already has a whole game’s worth of experience at being this werewolf monstrosity. Anyway, after that boss battle, there is a lull while some victory music plays and the TAS author does a fantastic job at making the Werewolf dance to the music while he’s waiting for the final boss to manifest.
I feared that Karnov for the NES was going to suck heavily and I was right. The TAS was less than 9 minutes but it felt much, much longer. I know this game is quite popular, which I have never really understood.
Either Karnov is a badass or the bosses are all wusses. He actually dispatched most of them in the TAS before they even showed up on screen. The TAS didn’t mention “Abuses programming errors” in its attributes, and I suppose it’s technically true that the player didn’t, e.g., run through any walls. Watch this trio of enemies, though:
And… I think that’s pretty much my breaking point for today. Thanks for reading along. Maybe I’ll have the fortitude to do a part 4 someday.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under NES Games,SNES Games | Comments (0)
September 27, 2009
Oh, I’m not done with these TAS capsule reviews yet. See part 1 for a broader explanation.
Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six (NES) makes me long for Bionic Commando. It also makes me research who the Sinister Six are so I can write accurate descriptions for MobyGames (these licensed games often make me to that). Random notes: killer targeted electricity is a threat in the first level; stage 3 has an area without light, not sure how I would negotiate it if I had to actually play; it might be possible to turn on the light but the speedrunner didn’t have a need.
It also occurs to me that having yourself a gang of 6 really lends itself well to a platformer video game.
No matter how horrifying the NES Ghosts ‘N Goblins title was, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts for SNES is worse in just about every way. The game (at least the speedun version) opens with the opening boss urinating fireballs on you.
Then there is the giant sperm wafting through the air in a later level. And what’s with the many swinging guillotines on the ship level? Who thought that would be a neat idea?
Milon’s Secret Castle (NES) was a bit painful to watch, only because I remember how arduous it was to play and finish, which I did, fair and square, back in 1991, when it was on loan from a friend. Before that, however, I had rented it one weekend and was immediately stuck on the first floor of the castle, just as most players find themselves. For those not in the know on this game, it is impossible to make any progress without knowing how to do a certain block shooting and moving trick that is completely non-obvious. I can attest to the non-obviousness of this since my highly trained, Nintendo nerd eyes spent an entire weekend trying to figure out how to make any progress whatsoever.
Oh, the things I used to put up with. What was I thinking?
As for Demon Sword (NES), it’s fun to watch the TAS but I’m glad I never bothered to play it. Though I found it humorous that this miniboss apparently shops at Target:
The musical score seems heavily influenced by Ninja Gaiden. Also, who builds graveyards on large, steep mountains?
I already knew that Trojan (NES) was a short game. After I mastered it (in a single, short rental period), I figured I could probably play it from start to finish in about 10 minutes. The TAS managed to do it in a little more than 6 minutes.
Ghosts ‘N Goblins for the NES is every bit as insane as I recall. ‘Nuff said.
Nightshade (NES) always looked fascinating, and I even own a copy that I picked up cheap. But I never got a chance to play it. The TAS is utterly bewildering. Something about a private detective/wannabe superhero (in a town where the real superhero has just been knocked off) is trying to stop an ancient Egyptian-themed villain. Something like that.
Tom & Jerry: The Ultimate Game of Cat and Mouse! (NES) makes me wonder why Tom is so obsessed with one measly mouse– Jerry is honestly the least of the house’s pest problems (roaches, ants, spiders and even some ghost insects). My favorite part was the NES in-game. How very meta.
Cobra Triangle (NES) from Rare makes me wonder how much code was reused from R.C. Pro-Am. The game exhibits a weird sense of humor on the stage with guarding swimmers.
Enemy boats and even UFOs are dragging swimmers out of the safe zone and you have to drag them back.
And then I come to Hydlide (NES). I have unresolved issues regarding this game which I easily place in my bottom 5 list of all NES games. I think it may have been a little cathartic to view this TAS as I got to relive my most painful gaming experience in all of about 10 minutes. Everything about this game is the epitome of awful and it must be preserved in MobyGames for all time. I actually rented it twice and eventually completed it. And I remember a screen with a background identical to this one, on which I ground out many an experience level, giving me perhaps the worst headache of my entire life:
This is about the time when I snapped and decided I didn’t want to do this TAS screenshot recon any longer.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under NES Games,SNES Games | Comments (2)
September 26, 2009
Point whoring has a glorious and storied tradition among MobyGames contributors. To that end, I sometimes like to go over to TASVideos.org and fire up an emulator to watch a tool-assisted speedrun while gathering plenty of emulator screenshots. This is low effort and high-yield in MobyGames contribution points.
However, nothing disabuses me of my nostalgia for old S/NES games like watching these speedruns. “Did I just watch the exact same level being played 13 times in a row, but with different colored backgrounds each time? Would I have patiently and tenaciously played through this game 20 years ago?” Regrettably, the answers to both of the foregoing questions is a slightly ashamed “yes”.
There are too many of these games to warrant individual posts. Further, I obviously didn’t get a good enough feel for the games to be able to write authoritatively about any of them. Instead, I thought I would do brief capsule reviews and highlight 1 or 2 things that caught my eye about each.
The Mask (SNES game based on the 1994 movie) faces off with a Mask’d Dorian in the finale of his eponymous game. That has to be the most grotesque deviation from the storyline– how can they both be wearing the Mask at the same time?
Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel has a Wolverine knock-off for a boss:
To be fair, I think it’s supposed to be an actual, anthropomorphized wolverine rather than a human with claws.
In Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions (SNES), the Lava Lakes “Pleasure Resort” sounds a bit out of place for this type of game:
Bart’s Nightmare (SNES) violates Simpsons canon by merely having Bart working hard on homework; everything else that doesn’t make sense about the game is explained away by it all being in Bart’s dream. This is the most dull game to watch.
I didn’t recognize Burns as the boss in this level until I analyzed the screenshots later:
Ghoul School (NES) looks like a terribly annoying game. I should probably read up on the storyline if it’s available online, but it seems like the monsters are doing fine and minding their own business, improving themselves, when this mohawked punk shows up at their school and starts causing trouble. Or it could be that the monsters conquered.
The Goonies (NES) is absurdly short (the TAS is done in about 2.5 minutes). It might make more sense if I ever saw the movie, but then again, probably not.
Watching the TAS for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES), I’m hard-pressed to recall the many Pizza Hut plugs in the original arcade game, but perhaps I wasn’t so in tune with the product placement issue back then. Maybe I noticed but laughed at how lame it looked… just like now:
Final Fight 3 (SNES) includes a section where the “heroes” invade someone’s boat and beat up the captain (who is trained to hold his own, mind you). Then again, the protagonists of these games have never been shy about trespassing on private property in the pursuit of justice.
In Robocop 3 (NES), our mechanized hero has a final face-off with ninjas that auto-destruct once you key in a code while a knowledge worker toils in the background:
The game features a new low in level design when it makes you backtrack over one level (level 4 is the same as level 3 with Robocop walking in the other direction).
Spelunker (NES) — oh, how I hated this game as a child. Thanks to the miracle of TAS, I can finally see what I missed by not being able to get more than about 10 virtual meters from the starting point in this game. Not much, apparently, and the game is still as obnoxious as I remember, and I gave that game an honest try (again, not much else to play, and I had this on loan from a friend).
Did you know there was a Transformers NES game back in the day? Transformers: Convoy no Nazo, as you might have guessed from the title, was a Japanese game (though there was also a Commodore 64 strategy-type game I remember reading about). After witnessing the TAS for Convoy no Nazo, I feel glad I never had a Transformers game to louse up my Transformers-obsessed childhood.
The hero of this game is Ultra Magnus. Bosses include (I think) Unicron (at least, there’s a round thing in the back of the stage) and also a giant Decepticon symbol. Megatron isn’t even the final boss (it’s the giant Decepticon T-rex Trypticon). It’s interesting to learn that video game adaptations in Japan are every bit as half-assed as their American counterparts.
To their credit, they got the “More than meets the eye” trademark musical lick reasonably duplicated with the NES’s limited sound generation capability.
More TAS capsules to come.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under NES Games,SNES Games | Comments (0)