Posts Tagged ‘Retro Throwback’

Retro Throwback – Blaster Master (NES) Review

Sunsoft’s Blaster Master for the NES is another somewhat underrated gem from the NES library. It’s also available on the Wii Virtual Console. There’s also a remake on WiiWare. Basically your goal in this game is to rescue your pet frog who disappears after becoming mutated. It’s a pretty simple story, but what it lacks in story it makes up with awesome music and gameplay.

And speaking of the gameplay, Blaster Master basically amounts to 3 play styles in one game. Your main style is controlling your vehicle (which is a cross between a car, tank, and a Harrier-like jet) in a standard side/vertical scrolling action/platform game manner. Sometimes you’ll need to exit the vehicle to enter small doors and reach otherwise inaccessible areas. In this mode you control the main character Jason and are much weaker and more likely to be killed very easily as you take extra damage. The third mode is related to the second in that when you enter a door as Jason it takes you to a new distinct part of the game. In these parts you’re playing as Jason in a sort of top-down action mode. You’re much larger and not as weak as you are in the normal mode. You can also get gun upgrades (which if I remember correctly don’t last between different sections), but they’ll disappear if you take any damage (one at a time). You also get grenades in this mode. The boss fights for the game take place in this mode as well, with them being much larger than Jason. There’s also a famous glitch for the game where if you throw a grenade and hit pause as it’s exploding, and then unpause a minute or so later, the boss should be dead. You can only do this on some of the bosses though, not all of them.

As I mentioned, the music in this game is awesome and the graphics are decent as well for the time. The game is just fun overall. It’s not unlike Metroid or post-Symphony of the Night Castlevania’s in that you have to do backtracking to progress. If you enjoy that type of game, you’ll enjoy Blaster Master. But like a lot of older games, there’s no passwords or save system here. So you either have to beat it one sitting or leave your NES on until you do. Despite these drawbacks, it’s still well worth checking out and worth the time invested. If you haven’t played it and you like these kinds of games, you need to play it. In fact, we’ll probably do a Let’s Play for it eventually.

Blaster Master did actually receive a few sequels/remakes, despite not selling well in Japan. Sunsoft originally didn’t want to make any sequel for it because of this. There was Blaster Master Jr. on Game Boy which is not a true Blaster Master game, but rather a sequel to a game called Robowarrior, but for some reason was lumped in with Blaster Master. A proper sequel was released for the Sega Genesis and takes place after the first game. A remake of the first game was released on Game Boy Color called Blaster Master: Enemy Below. It’s also on the 3DS Virtual Console. A 2nd sequel came out on PlayStation and it’s called Blaster Master: Blasting Again. And finally the remake on WiiWare we mentioned earlier is called Blaster Master: Overdrive.

Overall I would give Blaster Master for NES a score of 9 out of 10. I deducted 1 point for some of the “cheapness” in the game. For example if you’re exploring outside of the vehicle with Jason and you fall too far, you can die. I hate when games do this. I get that its realistic, but it just makes things needlessly difficult for no real reason. Another cheap thing is that you lose your gun upgrades when you get hit. Sure it ups the difficulty, but it also means you’re better off spending more time running from everything than trying to kill it once you’re fully upgraded. Why? Because in addition to that, enemies respawn if you move off the edge of the screen. But see, this is not like Zelda. They respawn on the same screen too, not just separate ones. That is cheap. And if I recall correctly, they don’t drop any loot when you kill them multiple times either, so once again, it’s pointless to try to kill them. But these things are relatively minor flaws. The game is still really fun and highly recommended. Grab your own copy of Blaster Master from Amazon by clicking our affiliate link here!

Score Breakdown

  • Graphics – 8/10 – The graphics as I mentioned are pretty good for the time period. The vehicle is easily distinguishable amongst multiple enemies and the color scheme doesn’t interfere too much. Enemies could stand to have a wider color palette, but given that this the NES that kind of thing is expected.
  • Sound/Music – 10/10 – Well if you like game music and you don’t like the intro to Blaster Master, then I don’t know what to tell you. It is just awesome and gets you pumped for the game. Several developers really got a lot out of the NES sound hardware and Sunsoft definitely did here. Capcom is another example of this.
  • Fun Factor – 9/10 – Like I said, this game is just pure fun. Who doesn’t love blasting mutants to bits? You get to control a badass tank-like vehicle and save your pet, what more could you want? It’s challenging but not so much so to prevent you from finishing the game.
  • Story – 4/10 – The story in this game is quite limited, but it’s not Final Fantasy 7, it’s an action game. Basically you just are out to stop the mutants and rescue your pet frog. That’s pretty much all there is to it.
  • Challenge – 8/10 – As I mentioned Blaster Master can put forth a decent amount of challenge, especially if you’re not used to these kinds of games. If you’ve played any Metroid game, modern Castlevania games or anything else like those, you’ll feel right at home here. In fact, the vehicle parts are quite similar to the original Metroid only with a vehicle instead of a bounty hunter. There’s lots of hazards and traps and seemingly dead ends until you get the right equipment, like any good Metroidvania title.
  • Replay Factor – 4/10 – As far as I know there’s no 2nd quest, no alternate endings, no multiplayer, no real reason to replay the game. It’s a fun game though and one I’ll occasionally play through just for kicks. The only thing you could do is to make your own achievements or challenges such as not using certain abilities, using Jason as much as possible when in the vehicle mode, never upgrading your gun, etc.

Overall (Average) – 7.167/10

Overall (Non-Average) – 9/10

Source: GameSaga Original

Retro Throwback – Faxanadu (NES) Review

Faxanadu for the NES is a spin-off from Nihon Falcom’s Dragon Slayer series. Faxanadu is kind of a hybrid between the Action/RPG/Platforming/Adventure genres. You play as a no-name hero who sets out to save the Elves from the Dwarves and restore the Elf fountain and the World Tree. The game is a side-scroller which plays somewhat similar to Zelda II’s battle sequences. But in Faxanadu, you don’t have an Overworld map or anything like that. You can go up, down, left, or right and kill the enemies on the screen or not, sometimes it’s not necessary to actually kill the enemies unless you need food (which is used as health in this game), gold, or experience. Speaking of experience, the experience system in this game is rather pointless in my opinion. You can go see a guru in a church and get a new title at set intervals but it doesn’t serve any purpose beyond saying what your title is in the sub-screen as far as I can tell.

The game has some awesome music, fun gameplay, decent graphics (for the time), decent length for what basically amounts to an action game, and is just fun. The game allows you to sequence break to some degree if you’re patient enough to grind out the gold required to buy top end equipment early on. You can also go straight to the boss of the area once you have the proper key and occasionally a special item, such as certain rings that allow you push blocks.

A couple things I don’t like about the game are the password system and the useless buildings and rooms. This game is famous for it’s long complicated passwords which use some sort of hybrid between a fantasy font and a normal font. This results in certain letters being hard to distinguish. For example, an uppercase letter H looks like an uppercase letter N. It’s pretty funny when NPCs in the game say Hello and it reads like Nello. Now the useless buildings and rooms on the other hand, I know that’s pretty typical RPG fair, but it still annoys me. Who wants to waste time exploring a room/building with nothing in it? In Faxanadu the areas you kill bosses in are separate from the main world you travel through. They’re basically the equivalent of dungeons in a dungeon crawler type game. Falcom for some reason thought it was cool to put in dungeons that serve no purpose. You don’t get anything of value from them, except some experience, some gold, and possibly a couple of consumable items, such as potions. Why couldn’t they put in more equipment and have you get some of it from a boss in these dungeons? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Overall though I think Faxanadu is a fun game and one I go back to occasionally to just play through again. If I were to give it a rating, I’d say it’s 8/10 for me. I took off 1.5 points for the useless dungeons, buildings, and rooms, and 0.5 points for the complicated password system with poor font choices. It’s available on Virtual Console, so if you like Action-Adventure games with minor RPG elements, I’d recommend picking it up. If you’re looking for a NES copy of Faxanadu you can find it on Amazon by clicking our affiliate link here!

Score Breakdown

  • Graphics – 8/10 – Like I said above, the graphics were pretty good for the time. Nowadays they’re not anything special, but your character is easily recognizable and buildings are easily distinguished once you know what each symbol means.
  • Sound/Music – 9/10 – The music in this game is the main draw from an audio perspective. I still hum it on occasion even though it’d been a while since I’ve actually played the game. The sound effects are nothing that special, standard fair, but they’re fine. The music takes the cake definitely.
  • Fun Factor – 8/10 – While I personally really enjoy this game, there are some frustrating aspects. If you’re on a ladder for example, you can be knocked off it. You can easily miss jumps in sections which requiring platforming skills and there’s almost always enemies that can mess you up in these parts of well. There’s also the limited duration items, like the Wing Boots for example, which if you’re not sure where to go when you need them to progress, you can waste a lot of gold buying new ones. There’s also one part where you have to go through a door but there are enemies we do area of effect damage (hits you no matter where you are on the screen). You wind up losing 1/4 – 1/2 your health just trying to walk in the door, which is annoying. Overall though it’s a fun game.
  • Story – 5/10 – This game doesn’t have a whole lot of story going for it, unless you talk to all the NPCs. Basically your goal is to save the Elves from the Dwarves, who poisoned their water and have seemingly killed the World Tree. The NPCs which do not sell you things or perform services (such as health restoration) are used to fill in the gaps and tell you more of the story, so if you skip on that you won’t get much out of it.
  • Challenge – 7/10 – As I mentioned above there are frustrating elements in this game which adds to the challenge. When magic hits you, like Deluge for example, even when you have a shield if I remember correctly. This doesn’t make sense. If I have a shield I should be able to block it, no? Some of the boss fights can be very tricky if you don’t know the tricks or patterns. For example the rock dropper boss on at least one or two of them you can come up behind him and avoid 90% of the rocks and kill him fairly quickly. A couple of the dragons you can just stand in one spot and hit it as it comes up to you without getting hit yourself. But there’s others where you don’t have that option.
  • Replay Factor – 5/10 – There’s really not much in the way of replay value for this game. There’s no multiplayer option of any kind, there’s no 2nd quest to my knowledge, as I mentioned there’s no real benefit from gaining experience, so there’s little reason to play through more than once. Like I said, I enjoy the game, so I like to replay it just for the heck of it sometimes. The only thing you can really do is set your own achievements/challenges, like going through the game with minimal equipment, magic, no health potions, etc.
Overall Score (Average) – 7/10
Overall Score (Non-Average) – 8/10

Source: GameSaga Original

Retro Throwback – Famicom Color, Materials, and Name Origins Revealed

So most of us know that Nintendo’s famous Family Computer (Famicom) console is red, white, and gold, but why those colors? Why not black which is a more obvious choice for home electronics, or perhaps gray? Former Nintendo hardware designer Masayuki Uemura spoke with Weekly Playboy about this topic and more. Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft has written an article with translated points from the interview.

Uemura-san says that originally the Famicom was going to be made of steel, but it was too fragile. They decided to make it plastic instead. Apparently the red color was chosen because former Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi wore a scarf with a similar shade of red and liked the color.

What about the name of the system? Why Family Computer? Why Famicom? Uemura-san says that at the time the term computer was being used a lot in Japan and he figured family hadn’t been used before, so he decided to combine the two. When discussing this with his wife however, she suggested the now famous shortened form, Famicom. The name Famicom was rejected by Uemura-san’s boss and Nintendo went with Family Computer instead. But as we all know today, the Famicom nickname stuck and would even apply to Nintendo’s next console, the Super Famicom.

Source: Kotaku & Weekly Playboy

Retro Throwback – Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link Review

Nintendo Life has posted a review for Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link. Here’s a partial look at the review:

Back in the early days of several franchises, the second game in a series tended to be radically different from the first, because developers had not quite pinned down what they wanted the series to become – take a look at Castlevania II or the western Super Mario Bros. 2 for example. Zelda II is another big name usually cited in lists like these, and probably the most radically different when compared to its predecessor.

The original Zelda was viewed entirely from a top-down perspective and featured a large overworld with a multitude of dungeons, in which Link could walk in four directions and (eventually) had several weapons at his disposal. For Zelda II, Nintendo threw all of this out of the window and started completely fresh. The overworld is still viewed from above, but it’s more like a Dragon Quest game – You can only move onto set squares and there’s various towns, caves and dungeons to enter. Wander around too long and (visible) enemies will pop up – collide with one of them and you’ll be taken to a battle scene with the enemies in it as well as the location depending on the type of square you were on.

Check out more of the review at the link below.

Source: Nintendo Life

Retro Throwback – Nintendo Power Blurb About Mega Man 3

Apparently Mega Man 3 was supposed to have more bosses. It’s funny how series creator Keiji Inafune says that the game was unfinished and his least favorite. Having owned Mega Man 3 when it was a new game, it was awesome. Not as good as Mega Man 2, no, but still pretty darn good in its own right.

Source: The MegaMan Network