Archive for the ‘NES’ Category
Altered Beast was a game that lived in screenshots. Like it or not, the arcade System 16 classic was less known for the roller skating rinks, bars, and bowling alleys that it was intended to get popular on and instead became the poster child for early Genesis advertising. I say this as someone who was under 10 years old at the time it premiered, though, so perhaps it was burning up the arcades, but all I seem to remember was it coming home. I did get a chance to play the title in coin-op form at my local bowling alley, but after a handful of attempts that never got me further than the second level I gave up on replaying the game. When it came home, however, I needed it on my Genesis and I replayed it constantly. In fact, for a game that is not only easy but also quick to complete (probably about 30 minutes), I find myself replaying it more than most other games from my past. This even more odd given that, sadly, Altered Beast is not a very good game.
The premise is that of a centurion of Greece brought back by Zeus to save Athena, his daughter, who has been kidnapped. Upon your resurrection, you now gain the ability to take the form of different animals in a sort of “were-” hybrid (werewolf, weredragon, werebear, etc) that can be accomplished by collecting power-ups in the level. Beyond that Altered Beast is nothing more than a walk to the right and beat up everything in your path game, often known today as a brawler, but given that it pre-dates most of the Konami licensed brawlers and Capcom’s Final Fight, it was significant for the time. Levels can vary in length, but if you know the game in the least – and what needs to be done – you’ll clear each one in 5 minutes or less. Given that there’s only 5 levels, that’s a short time span. When I refer to knowing what needs to be done, that’s the need to destroy the albino wolves in each level, which contain the power-ups needed to make your character’s strength grow and eventually trigger “beast mode.” Each level rotation has 3 albino wolves and it takes 3 power-ups to go into beast mode, so you have to do it right the first time through or go through another rotation of the level that is usually harder than the first. Beast mode refers to your character transforming into the aforementioned were-beasts from earlier and has even crept its way into pop culture as a meme. While there are new enemies in each level, they all take basically the same amount of hits to defeat and aside form some basic change in behavior, don’t differentiate very much. That’s still not to say this game didn’t have talent behind it because designer Makoto Uchida would earn some notoriety for his future work on Golden Axe and a personal favorite Dynamite Deka (Die Hard Arcade series). Co-designer Hirokazu Yasuhara is even more notable with his planning and design on the early Sonic the Hedgehog titles before moving on and being involved in the design of Jak & Daxter titles with Naughty Dog and eventually the first Uncharted.
This week Retro Game Night features Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for the NES. One of the many games that had a non-traditional arcade-to-console port, this licensed product was significant because it was an unlicensed Tengen game and then eventually became an officially licensed Mindscape game, so there are two identical versions in the wild. Fred goofs around with it a bit to give the general gist.
The Legend of Zelda series has transcended time and now acts less as a genesis of the 80s and more as one of Nintendo’s long running trains through time. Like all trains, many have gotten on and gotten off over the decades and thus the original is no longer that paramount flagship title that gave way to action RPGs that it used to be. In fact, these days I can’t imagine how one not familiar with the game could get started without a guide. Where would you go? What would you do? How long until you eventually enter the first dungeon that read “level one” and would you know that it means first dungeon instead of top level of the dungeon? On the other hand there are that other half of the gaming populous that is acutely familiar with all of the intricacies of what was our first true digital adventure. I myself know exactly where every dungeon is (on the second quest too), know exactly where to bomb a wall or burn a bush, and could navigate the lost woods with my eyes closed. That’s because I’ve done it so many times that the very movements of my average run are more muscle memory than anything else. It was one of the first games I played and one of the best.
We’ve had quite a few articles about game collecting lately, most notably the process of how to find and get games from various locations with little to no issues. One thing that was not as highly discussed is knowing how much items are worth/cost, especially because games’ values vary depending on re-releases and upcoming releases. At the Midwest Gaming Classic 2015 I got to see first hand how that works and factors you may have never imagined can jack up the value of random items. For example, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the 3DS was readily available when the game launched in 2011 at the retail price of $39.99. These days it’s worth quite a bit more at $50 for a loose cart and $65 complete – I’ll get to these price trends in a sec – due to the fact, according to many of the booth vendors I spoke to, that in January of this year the carts became extremely rare on store shelves and it spiked a bit more when the Zelda Wii U delay was announced. Looks like Nintendo decided to go more digital as the game can be easily purchased on the eShop for MSRP, but if you’re a tangible collector that game has outlived its apparent welcome. Also it appears that gamers have begun to want that game back in their collections because of the delay of the Wii U title so they have something to be all nostalgic about until that game finally arrives. These are things I neither knew about nor cared about, but they are important. A while back I wrote an article on knowing the difference between different games and what games fetch high value, well today I decided to get a little more specific and show you some of the coveted titles that fetch a large sum of money on retro consoles. Keep in mind this was written in April 2015 and a lot can happen with each passing day as of the writing of this article. Please keep in mind all prices are based on Price Charting, a US-based price guide that compares eBay, Amazon, and third party sites for what games actually sell for as opposed to what they are listed for.
Note: Due to the size this article has become, I’ve broken it up into several articles that will go live throughout the rest of the week. I will also feature each article under its appropriate console(s) for easier access. So lets kick this off with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES):
Platform: Arcade, microcomputers, NES, Master System, Game Gear, SNES, Genesis/Mega Drive, Xbox/Gamecube/PS2/PSP (part of Midway Treasures)
Digital Release? Yes, it had a digital release on XBLA (360) but was delisted in Feb. 2010
These days there is a good chance any gamer is familiar with the “twin stick shooter”, a concept where you move with the left stick and shoot with the right. Back in 1982 when fantastic game designer Eugene Jarvis premiered the concept in Robotron: 2084, it was unlike anything we had ever seen. The merits of that game, and what it brought to video games, cannot be denied and if you want an idea of how Robotron played you need look no further than recent neo-retro release Rock Boshers Dx. It wasn’t until almost a decade later, in 1990’s fantastic Smash TV, that Jarvis along with a talented team at Williams created one of the most addicting arcade games from my youth. Set in the year 1999 – oh how we thought so much was going to change with the year 2000 back then – Smash TV has you and potentially one other person shooting it out in a room-to-room TV studio playing the most violent game show of all time (Running Man anyone?). It takes the building blocks of Robotron: 2084 and brings it into the nineties by giving you a second player, having you kill tons of humans instead of rescue them like in Robotron, and of course you’re doing it all for cash prizes to selfishly grow your wealth. I loved it then and I love it now.
Hackers these days don’t necessarily do things because they should, they just see if they can. That’s definitely the case in this post on Gamespot where a handful of hackers got the Netflix streaming service running on an NES via a specialized cart but on an unmodified NES. You can watch House of Cards running on it in the video below in all its streaming text and 256 color glory. Netflix on NES, now I’ve seen it all.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yn-rNdYZAY]
Tetris has probably one of the most sordid tales about rights management. This so-called “first game from behind the iron curtain” was one of the most popular and addicting games of the late 1980s. Even more interesting is the story about how Nintendo snuck in behind a handful of eager parties who got in at the ground floor and secured sole console rights to one of the most money-producing games of all time.