Of course, for every great game in this experiment like Little Samson, there are at least 50 games that are less than memorable. I played a few more of these specimens. Fortunately, there are speed runs available for some games still missing from MobyGames. Strategy: Play just enough to get proper screenshots of title and intro screens, play the first level to get a feel for the game, keep playing until I just can’t stand it anymore, and then let the speed run movie rip in the emulator and capture lots of diverse screenshots. I got sucked into playing Little Samson for hours due to this approach (and I never even got to the speed run). But a few other recent games did not elicit the same reaction.
Two games I tried back to back had largely the same storyline, to say nothing of highly generic titles. In both Sword Master and Castle of Dragon, an evil wizard or dragon (or perhaps both) kidnaps a princess and terrorizes a kingdom. It is up to J. Random Knight to rectify the situation. Sword Master was far and away the superior entry between the two, due primarily to its stunning graphical tricks that look like true parallax scrolling backgrounds. Naturally, these can’t be illustrated with a still screenshot. I won’t let that stop me:
As for Castle of Dragon, thankfully, the manual is available online. This facilitates creating a new MobyGames entry that has more storyline detail than “some dragon in some kingdom kidnapped some princess and this knight dude has to rescue her.” Indeed, that’s the gist, but I’m able to use more of the official story’s proper nouns. The manual also dispenses this valuable advice in its secret techniques section: “Shield is most effective against swords.”
Here’s the coolest boss dragon from the game:
The ferocious rooster dragon. One of the last bosses is your reflection, busted out from a mirror. Have we seen that before? A reflection boss, or perhaps a shadow?
Let’s leap about a millenium forward in the fantasy timeline, from the middle ages to the year 2525, which is the alleged setting for the NES game Super Spy Hunter. Again, the manual is available which is what alleges that the game is set 500 years from now. Frighteningly, not much of the earth’s infrastructure has changed. it’s a bunch of square buildings and freeways interspersed, on which 1980s-style cars and tanker trucks roll along, with helicopters flying overhead. If SSH is to be believed, the next 5 centuries will not see much technological innovation.
Super Spy Hunter reprises the old franchise’s time-honored theme of an overhead rolling shooter, albeit more controlled than a conventional shmup (since you control the rate that the car advances). You can aim your vehicle’s gun in different directions, but that’s tedious at high speeds. You can also receive powerups that allow your gun to auto-aim, or to completely detach and fly around and destroy enemies without your intervention.
I didn’t think this game was too bad until I got to the 1st level boss that was just a big tanker whose preferred offensive method is to simply squish you against the road barrier.
It’s worth noting that the title is a little confusing– generally, games prefixed with ‘Super’ were strictly the providence of Super NES games (the Super Mario Bros. franchise gets a pass, of course).