Saturday, 19 October 2013

16 bits, 2 bytes - Fifth Event

Demon’s Crest, Capcom 1994

This was the third and final game in a spin-off series based on the exploits of one the most irritating enemy sprites in video game history.

The Red Arremer (or Firebrand) is his name and pissing you off is his game.

Pushing the patience of the proverbial saint and comparable to the medusa heads in Castlevania, gives you some idea of how easily blood can be brought to the boil.

Still, Ghosts ‘n Goblins and beyond wouldn't be the same without him…

Gargoyle’s Quest began on Game Boy in 1990 and the sequel swooped onto NES in 1992.

The NES game was also re-released in Japan for Game Boy in 1993 and served as an enhanced version.

Combining RPG with classic scrolling action proved to be a rather decent idea.

The original was unofficially subbed Ghosts ‘n Goblins and the next was The Demon Darkness.

Townsfolk of the Ghoul Realm referred to the legend of Red Blaze which our man is destined to become.

So a complete lack of consistency exists because calling this Gargoyle’s Quest III: Demon’s Crest would have obviously made too much sense…

The demonic deal is that our geezer is on a mission to acquire the elemental crests of fire, earth, water, time and air.

He also needs the Crest of Heaven (held by Somulo) for the Crest of Infinity to appear.

It is said this will grant unimaginable power, allowing the bearer to rule both the human and demon world.

Although critically injured, he manages to defeat the Demon Dragon but fellow fly boy Phalanx spots a moment of weakness and takes his opportunity.

After getting his shit together and possessing a scrap of fire, his quest to reclaim crests begins.

I say ‘scrap’ because the fire crest was broke into several pieces.

Right, the iron is nicely warmed so let’s strike before it cools.

The sprite is recycled from Super Ghouls but abilities have expanded more than rice.

He shoots and scorches, gets in a flap while also clinging on for life.

Is it more fun than controlling Arthur?  I’d say yes but he’s not exactly fleet of foot.

Before becoming a pile of bones for the next dog to feast upon, you can withstand a number of hits.

His adventure will bring danger, excitement, intrigue and terror.

Action is attached to exploration and the need to become different is essential.

To check on what’s what, curiosity can be perfectly satisfied via the menu screen as crest power, talisman, spell and potion etc are all there to view and equip.

As you’re taking out the aggressive, you’ll get rich quick and such wealth is needed to line the pockets of inhuman shopkeepers.

The wise man owns ‘a shop of spells’ and some dude called Black Lotus flogs all manner of potions.

Spells attack and protect, while potions restore health.

Also, magic costs and requires something called vellum (which can be found by breaking statues) and potions are stored within urns.

Apart from a curious name, Trio the Pago offers gaming for demons and if you have the spare cash, it’s worth testing your skill as head-butting skulls reap extra vitality and money.

The prudent should seek talismans and are discovered in places slightly less obvious.

Possessing these increases the appearance of money, becoming less susceptible to enemy attack and adding more beef to firing velocity.

Inevitably, the McGuffin are crests so let’s ride this wave.

These are divided into two specific groups – fire and transformation.

Excluding the first piece of fire (which you get automatically), four more will be taken back.

Crests are got after defeating a nasty end of level beastie and act as an upgrade to ability.

As progression becomes more substantial, keen explorers will journey back and forth to previously conquered areas to achieve the once inaccessible and fight unseen bosses.

Playing with fire reaps ‘claw’ and ‘tornado’ as acquiring these pieces permits climbing walls and jumping to loftier heights.

Transformation renders many talismans useless.

Shedding your original guise is of pivotal significance as attaining elemental excellence brings further attributes meaning our little dude can now do what he couldn't before.

Sing a hymn of sixpence, a crest full of rye, four and twenty bad boys baked a pie.

Water (Tidal) – for when you like the opposite of dry.
Air (Aerial) – pack up, let’s fly away.
Earth (Ground) – statue breaking is so much fun.
Time (Legendary) – an almighty all round beast.

Okay, okay, okay.

There’s only one loose end to tie up and that chat with Phalanx has been delayed long enough…

Your nemesis is a multi-stage behemoth and courtesy of the Crest of Heaven, he’s one tough son of a bitch.

After a titanic struggle, infinity is yours to behold.

However, this is only the end if you want it to be…

Depending on what you've done and when Phalanx is faced, a new nightmare awaits.

Bearing in mind, this battle is only possible when every conceivable treasure is gathered.

So after restarting the game with the given password, extreme dedication has unlocked the true final boss.

We learn that the Crest of Heaven is an amalgamation of all elemental forms and the Ultimate Gargoyle is born.

A new area on the overworld map exists so before entering, the following preparation is encouraged.

Believe in your ability, swallow a glass of the hard stuff and most of all, good luck.

The Dark Demon ranks as one of the toughest bosses you could ever hope to shake a demented stick at.

Even with the omnipotence of Ultimate, you’ll need to throw more than the kitchen sink to defeat this fucker.

Whether he’s a mobile skeleton pillar or a stationary demonic butterfly, both deserve to be struck with eternal damnation and rot in the filthiest plague pit.

Expect to avoid a plethora of homing missiles, plasma balls, falling rocks and the infamous blood waterfall.

Most attacks are insanely difficult to avoid and misery is poured by the gallon.

This will drive you to distraction and only the most determined will prevail.

Before moving on, I am compelled to sum up a devilishly great experience.

Tripping across a thoroughly fantastic adventure will see a haunted forest, graveyard, inferno, ruins and ice palace.

Caves and underwater sections are dripping with deft touches as torches can be forcefully lit and water wonderfully ripples.

Unsurprisingly, the metropolis is naturally teeming with monsters including mermen, spirits, bats, furry maggots, plants, skeletons and denizens.

Those attempting to halt progress at area’s end are impressively unpleasant.

Visuals drip with delightful melancholy and complemented by audio embracing a pitch black agenda.

Proceedings ebb and flow with design nothing short of genius.

It’s insane that this series only reaped modest success and remains one of the most criminally overlooked brands in pixels.

On a far grander scale, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night heavily steals.

Why have I mentioned that specific entry from the multiples available?

Either you know already or failing that, give Alucard's hunt to defeat his father a whirl...

Wolfenstein 3-D, Imagineer 1993

Nintendo’s wonder machine boasted the first console port of the FPS classic and while the Jaguar and 3DO efforts were predictably superior, this wasn't scheisse.

If you've never played the Wolf - where have you been?

Nazis, Nazis, oh, and more Nazis.

You’d expect the frame rate and general movement to be treading concrete but considering it didn’t reap the benefit of Super FX (a la Doom), it’s a pretty smooth affair.

However, it was blockier than Lego up close.

Alternative mouse usage was an added bonus and gave it that extra PC authenticity.

In 1992, using the best available maximised ‘window’ size made things chug along nicely.

Nowadays, a PC from last week is already prehistoric…

The original was completely uncensored but due to Nintendo’s politics and ethics, you know what’s coming…

Blood is but a memory and all Nazi references were completely omitted.

The end boss packing dual gattling guns was renamed Staatmeister and amusingly, all Hitler portraits are bolder than brass, but minus the famous moustache.

What I found strange is that mutant rats replaced dogs.

I’m sorry but that’s just stupid as these weren't exactly friendly woof woofs.

Playing the child friendly version did include the novelty of being able to use a flamethrower or rocket launcher.

If this was released beyond the Mortal Kombat II era, logic suggests gore would be present but an air of doubt lingers over the Nazi imagery.

Despite the lack of horsepower and general butchering, it’s definitely worth a play test even if it’s just to try out new weaponry.

We all know that Wolfenstein evolved into Doom and the rest is history, but over a decade earlier, there was a very different Castle Wolfenstein.

Released for the Apple II in 1981, (and later in 1983 on C64), it was a revelation.

The little known Muse insisted on stealth and strategy to progress, rather than all out bloodshed.

Its success took us Beyond Castle Wolfenstein in 1984 and the premise was very similar to the failed 20 July 1944 ‘bomb in the briefcase’ assassination plot masterminded by Claus von Stauffenberg.

Tom Cruise played the lead role in the appropriately titled 2008 movie Valkyrie.

So if you didn't know of nailed on inspiration, you do now.

Chrono Trigger, Square 1995

Terranigma used 32 megs to spectacular effect in 1996 and while this monster counts the same number, its craft is more stupendous than Quintet/Enix’s effort.

Of course, the internal battery backs things up as several enforced breaks will be required.

Square burst the technical seams, found muscle the SNES apparently couldn't flex and brilliance seeped from every pore.

Crono, whose hair could pick up radio waves, is chosen by guardian spirits to save the world from principal bad guy Lavos.

Some geezer called Magus is also out to do more harm than good.

Embark on a thrilling adventure that will see ripples made through the passage of time and prevent doomsday from becoming a reality.

Heroes will be made and legends will be born.

A cinematic intro sets the scene and all sorts of goodies will make your eyes water.

Menu screens consist of the usual involving level, magic, item, weapon, armour, accessory and status.

The perspective is classic and after getting to grips with its system and brief sightseeing, it all kicks off when a girl becomes a guinea pig for a telepad test and falls foul when her pendant reacts to time travel.

Up steps the naive Crono and what has this lad let himself in for?

He is naturally the top banana but six others are eventually unpeeled when they team up and become playable.

While you and your party traverse a twisting and turning rollercoaster, expect to revisit areas while travelling backwards and forwards through the vortex of a warp field.

Mixing it up with the enemy is turn based, you know the drill…

After each scrap, you’ll gain XP, G (cash), tech points and learn interesting tech attacks.

Certain weapons can only be wielded by specific characters.

Apart from the usual slashing with whatever implement, combination and status attacks bring multiple pain to adversaries.  Chars also have access to unique elemental fury such as lightning, fire and water.

As you cut more than the atmosphere and throw items for more than the good of your health, effects are spiffing and add a splash of colour to proceedings

Enemies have to be interacted with to initiate a fight or in certain situations, you don’t have a choice.

As our intrepid hero and cohorts ply their trade, the time period dictates those that oppose.

Don’t fall off your perch or anything but threat is not of your typical variety as monsters, demons, mutants, robots, beings and dinosaurs all shake hands with wonderment.

We chew the fat, digest the options and respond as appropriate to many chars of eccentricity and general nuisance.

Touching wood, the choices made and the way that you talk don’t have a dramatic effect on circumstances.

Ah sleep, the chance to dream.

The average person needs to recharge at least once a day.

However when it comes to sprite, this will be done several times, for a menial charge.

On occasion, other places provide a free service, but throwing in a slap up breakfast is definitely out…

You can buy/sell items at several shops and new weapons are always available, for the right price.

As always, some places are safer than houses and usually involve talking and chilling.

While taking a voyage in dangerland, cracking open chests will reap the reward of item or weapon while pulling switches will also open up new areas.

Depending on where you venture, the rather splendid effects of a blizzard, dust storm, birds flying and clouds passing envelop the situation of a gorgeous overworld map.

Not resting on its laurels, animated sequences are equally enchanting and are a result of shenanigans within.

Caves, forests, ruins, villages, environs of various eras provide the spread on this fantastic slice of bread.

The story spins every which way but loose and although ultimately based around Lavos, Magus and many more, Crono is found guilty by a jury of peers of kidnapping Princess Nadia.

The legality of this trial is amusingly brought.

Also, the theme of which bears a frightening similarity to Pink Floyd’s The Trial and at whatever point, Robo’s Theme will have you ‘Rick Rolled’.

Your motley crew can be separated and replaced with a character at your discretion.  I’m unsure if this is pertinent to the situation in hand.

Matters develop and get tastier than strawberries and cream when stepping into a light pillar means a gate or portal will take you to past, present or future.

We must venture back and forth in time to alter occurrences, and events change regularly.

Further to this, a suitable machine becomes available and involves transcending occasion, opening a gauge and selecting era.

Periods include The Middle Ages, The Dark Ages, Apocalypse, Prehistoric and Future.

Bosses wage war upon the party and battles intensify as progression picks up the pace.  These vary from mechanical, biological, physical and otherworldly menace. 

To break up the heavy dose of exploration, a jet bike section is prescribed.

If baddie Magus encourages Lavos to awake from his long slumber, all humans will perish.

The story persists with the burden of intricacy so here’s looking at you kid.

Three Gurus of Zeal used the Royal’s Red Rock to create super weapon the Mammon Machine.

We guess that’s why Marle’s pendant reacted so angrily because that was made from the same substance.

They are professed to be the three wise men as Melchior (Guru of Life), Gaspar (Guru of Time) and Belthasar (Guru of Reason) contribute much to significance.

Ayla informs that the two silly bulls that make up the ultimate bad boy are La (fire) and Vos (big).

She is probably referring to translation of what her people call this alien.

Lavos!  Who is he?  What is he?  Where does he come from?

The voice of reason explains.

Aeons ago Lavos descended from the heavens and burrowed deep into the planet’s core while consuming energy and growing stronger.  It disappeared when summoned away by a mighty wizard (Magus) and reigns high at Death Peak.

He continues to replicate and guzzles resources like a parasitic vampire.

This immortal entity sleeps deep underground and because the Mammon Machine absorbs energy and Lavos consumes, it may awaken if within range.

Inconveniently, magical beings known as The Enlightened Ones are also under Lavos’s control.

Mastering the concept of time is the only way to overcome this resource sucker.

Within Lavos’s Ocean Palace, a geezer called Dalton is up for putting up his dukes.

There’s also supreme monster Giga Gaia, Magus himself to fight and countless other shit to take care of, including the Mammon Machine.

That pesky machine needs to be destroyed and the ruby knife seems to be right tool for the job.

Fighting rock with rock should do the trick.

You get the impression that all is not going according to plan when Lavos’s shell devastates all.

Amidst the mayhem, Magus appears to destroy Lavos along with Queen Zeal and daughter Schala.

Magus fails, your crew is revived but her highness stays with Lavos.

Making your escape, a sequence shows the entity destroying the world.

This disaster brings a dark portal and monsters emerge from it on flying fortress The Blackbird.

Soon after, Magus crosses over and his shadow power can be exploited.

Lavos’s haunt Death Peak finds the power to restore life so the dead must be essential to the space time continuum.

A Chrono Trigger is the Guru’s time egg and such a mirror match is created by wizard Nolstein Bekkler.

This clone is exchanged for the real Crono at some point soon.

Before facing the fusion of Fire and Big, you should meet and touch various lifeforms to reinvigorate.

Right, you've successfully negotiated an absolute epic but every beginning must have an end.

It has awoken; Lavos cannot be left to control the universe so grit your teeth, as this climax is unforgettably superb.

Unshelled, I’d describe its true form as an armoured humanoid attached by the burden of tendrils with unparalleled power.

Can the power of three overcome an energy sucking, monstrous death bringer?

No problem…

Crash, bang, wallop, the Lavos Core is upon us.

Complete with ‘bits’, a floating celestial body and complemented by a background that warps the mind, the challenge is minimised.

Those who complete the feat are rewarded with a magical ending to a meticulously enthralling experience.

There is so much more to say of a truly remarkable game.

How the SNES coped with and successfully handled such a gargantuan effort is nothing short of astonishing.

Intelligence is matched only by its beauty.

Square left no stone unturned and if it wasn't already obvious, they are the masters of all they survey.

This was re-released on the DS and the sequel Chrono Cross made its merry way to the PS1, but not for English shores.

While Final Fantasy is fairly well known, this is undoubtedly their finest work and nothing, I repeat nothing, on whatever system touches it.

Super Soccer, Human 1992

Modes won’t blow minds as choices include exhibition, tournament and penalty shoot-out.

Of the sixteen teams, all the usual suspects and rivalries exist but having said that, a virtual experience will never be the same.

After selecting formation and team line up, you can all go and kick off.

Like Super Sidekicks and many others pre Fifa and Pro Evo, this is unlicensed so expect a plethora of fictitious superstars.

What sets this apart from anything is the unique Mode 7 pitch which is viewed vertically so you can see the opposing goal anywhere on the field.

Although those involved need a boot up the ass, it’s still great to play.

At the best of times, conceding a goal is of little consolation to any keeper and the celebration given is absolutely awful.

This isn't quite ‘the beautiful game’ but it’s definitely worth lacing up your boots.

Judge Dredd, Probe 1995

In the wonderful world of 2000 AD, the degenerates and general human filth fear Judge Joseph Dredd.

The chisel chinned, brick shithouse is every criminal’s worst nightmare.

Before accessing the Mega City One library, let’s take this into custody.

Released around the time of the Stallone vehicle, they attempted to cash in on a cloud that showered only shit.

Probe game = mission brief and password system.

He shoots, climbs, swings and given the protagonist, you must arrest the ‘guilty’ or simply slaughter.

Artillery is authentic as his Lawgiver will unload double whammy, grenade, incendiary and heat seeker.

Scenery is never out of place as the Hall of Justice, Cursed Earth, Council Chamber and Janus Lab provide the atmosphere.

During the platforming shenanigans, accessing a terminal to control the door security system is essential.

The perfunctory mission mechanics gives the player primary and secondary objectives to complete.

Tasks, challenges or whatever you want to call them are boring, boring, boring.

Destroying ammo dumps, massacring, rescuing prisoners and arresting perps is what’s needed to progress.

Aside from the standard, there is a nice looking if crap Mode 7 scene when you ride the Lawmaster.

Justice is brought against ABC warriors, judge hunters and alien beasties.

Bosses include Chopper, a caged prisoner, Gila Munja rider before the showdown with rogue Judge Rico at the Statue of Liberty.

Despite the obvious banality in system and design, Probe make a point of delivering decent graphics, nice animation and moody, if annoying music.

It’s not as ultimate as the law enforcer it represents but overall, judgment is pretty good.

So here’s the worst of the rest.

8 bit whores should remember Melbourne House for the wrong reasons as they were responsible for the truly horrendous conversion of Double Dragon, Barbarian (not the Palace release) and Aaargh!

Did that game really encourage more torture than its innovative title?  Yes, with huge brass balls on.

Their highlight was the hallucinogenic and psychedelic Fist II in 1986.  The variety of music contained was atmospherically haunting and substantially creepy.

So that’s the muted history of Melbourne House and their stab at bringing judgment may be fondly remembered in 1987.

The essence and lines that Fist II snorted were again eminently audible and insanity was bestowed among C64 owners.

It did go someway in capturing the spirit of the comic as you could not literally shout/warn/kill with ‘BLAM’ and ‘URGH’ housed in speech bubbles.

It was horrible to look at with muddy colours, unrecognisable sprites and nightmarish gameplay.

For all its inadequacies and downsides, you found yourself playing more often than you probably should.

Maybe it was out of desperation as I never knew what the fuck to do.

In 1990, the Amiga attempted greatness but didn't even achieve mediocrity.

Never mind, the 8 bit ports made vomit look like a Jackson Pollock.

Using digitised sprites that Mortal Kombat greedily gobbled, Midway even cancelled a scrolling fighting arcade before it reached mass distribution in 1993.

Drokk, can it get any worse?

It seemed no hope was virtually confirmed in 1997 as Gremlin asked frustrated gamers to ride the fixed rails of a lightgun compatible shmup on PS1.

The novelty was sound but the application was bollocks.

Video sequences with stock actors against CGI provided mild amusement with some unknown called Richard Waters showing raw emotion as Dredd.

As this was released after the infamously vapid Stallone movie, I guess his lip was otherwise engaged…

We should remember that he was hired for unique exploits for the 3DO version of Demolition Man.

In 2003, the sub of Dredd vs Death makes this immediately different and revolves around the demented Dr. Icarus’s lust for immortality, complete with vampires, zombies, Dark Judges and several criminals thrown in for good measure.

Before fans get too excited, this is not by any means a good FPS, but compared to the lawlessness of what I've already mentioned, it’s God.

So there weren't many and unless another is belatedly released, the best advice I can give is that instead of controlling Dredd, watch Pete Travis’s 2012 movie.

Zool: Ninja of the Nth Dimension, Gremlin 1993

Hyped as apparently a killer app for the Amiga, a decidedly average effort did the rounds across many formats.

I've already spoke and demonstrated Sonic rip offs during ‘links’ and while the exploits of this Ninja Gremlin are undeniably akin to Sega’s mascot, his lack of speed explains my sensible reluctance.

As you jump, shoot, slide, and spin across colourful landscapes, a certain amount of objects for that area is required and lacklustre bosses guard each world.

Instead of a straight port, backgrounds are an improvement over the original but nothing can save this from been an ultimately forgettable effort.

Hagane, Hudson/Red Entertainment 1994

To those who own a ‘genuine’ copy, they will know this is rarer than dry water.

A member of the Fuma clan, Hagane possesses the skill of a ninja and the body of a cyborg to take back the Holy Grail from the evil Koma clan.

He can easily outdo any gymnast in the somersaulting and back-flipping department.

Yeah, this is a great rip off from the power of four franchises from four different companies.

The look and design suffocates Contra, Shinobi, Ninja Gaiden and Strider.

He can even use a grappling hook which adds Bionic Commando to the recipe that isn’t a disaster. 

Overall though, this good old fashioned hack ‘n slash is not a direct steal of any.

That’s the Ninja Spirit; sorry that’s a right Irem mistake.

So apart from dashing, somersaulting and back-flipping, our geezer can bring something special to the occasion with ninja magic.

His ever dependable plasma blade kicks ass, but throwing daggers and bombs also help.

Standard enemies include a variety of ninjas, monsters, mechanical and biological types.

As with any action popcorn, indestructible peril such as chainsaw blades, fire eruptions, dropping platforms and protruding spikes are also present.

We are treated to environments that mix cyberpunk with feudal and are split into sections with forests, fortresses, caves, the sky and factory bring an assortment of lovelies.

Mode 7 gets in a cool spin which becomes a pseudo scrolling shmup stage.

Bosses are usually possessed and/or controlled by a recurring baddie, as statues and monsters are pretty yummy to eat.

Compared to the commonplace drivel, this was practically unreachable but nevertheless, some obscure lollipops are well worth a lick.

On the Ball, Taito 1992

Well this is a bit different.

On face value, this sounds like a terrible football game but it’s a neat little puzzle game.

Guiding a spherical object around each maze to land in the ‘goal’ ensures the concept is simpler than looking to the sky and counting the number of flying pigs.

Temporarily transferring to 32 bits, Kula World expanded the process on PS1.

Rip off or inspiration?  I’m on the fence…

This involved guiding and rotating a beach ball around a ‘maze’ to collect all coins before finding the exit.  Matters can be viewed from a different angle and freely hopping over gaps added to the convenience.

Taking her back to 16 bits...  Keyed in, confirmed.

The ball is permanently falling and thankfully, Mode 7 means that turning concourse couldn't be easier.

Of course, the freedom of 360 degree movement makes it particularly difficult for the ball to get stuck…

If the ball collides with something it shouldn't, this incurs a time penalty.  An added pressure is brought as the clock ticks.

Blocks can be destroyed within the area and other examples of hampering and encouraging are speed up, slow down, intermittent stop/go and jump tiles.

It’s a shame that there isn’t a great deal to negotiate meaning a fun little excursion is over before it’s really had chance to begin.

Stargate, Probe Entertainment 1995

I was never a fan of the film but TV show Stargate SG-1 performed well.

Colonel O’Neil (Kurt Russell) delivers one of the worst lines in movie history with “Give my regards to King Tut asshole.”

Holy shit, you just have to laugh…

Stepping through the Stargate, a Special F Marine Battalion quickly gets lost on Planet Abydos.

Find your men and defeat Ra, the supernatural master of this world.

Assuming the role of O’Neil, talking to Jackson and others will bring information, story and ‘interesting’ objectives.

To be completely fair in regards to the story, screens and dialogue, bravo old chap.

Gameplay is nothing short of ‘seen it, done it, and bought the jumper’ but survives as our grizzled solider happily hangs on ledges, lets the enemy eat machine gun fire and grenades make things go bang.

As always, they make a good job of animation and recreating the film as caves, City of Nagada, desert and the Pyramid make all participants feel at home.

The classic style of Prince of Persia is naturally stolen and adopted.

Out to scupper your ass are Ra’s Horus and Osiris guards, bugs and flying monsters.

Now for those massively exciting, mind-destroying, spirit crushing objectives.

Staleness ranges from rescuing elders, marine buddies, finding boxes of supplies, destroying Ra’s computers, acquiring alien lasers and causing glider switches to malfunction.

Mode 7 presents itself when using a glider.

Anubis, Ra’s greatest warrior, must be taken care of more than once with the challenge increasing.

Butterkist, Butterkist, Ra Ra Ra, is faced within the confines of his Throne Room and this annoying insect proves fairly difficult to stamp on.

Movie licences can pollute the home but this is a decent effort of a pretty shabby film.

Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose, Konami 1993

This is among the best cartoon licence that anybody could clean and jerk.

Instead of wading through the entire Acme Looniversity records, I make the following notes.

Montana Max plays silly buggers by kidnapping Babs and along with mad scientist Dr. Gene Splicer, the duo is far from dynamic.

Tiny Toon Adventures, nothing more, nothing less, appeared on the NES in 1991.

You initially play Buster but before each stage, it’s obligatory to choose a different Toon (with a specific ability) who becomes available when a special item is collected.

Buster’s Hidden Treasure burst on to Megadrive screens in 1993.

Apart from ultimately rescuing Babs from Max, regular chars become bosses as Splicer brainwashes and controls.

Unlike before, sole responsibility is stacked upon Buster’s shoulders.  The design of the NES and look of the SNES shines through and through.

I liked both of the above but it’s obligatory for the SNES to enjoy the best.

This adventure is brimming with assorted quality and oozes more personality than a dripping candle.

Buster remains the man and will always be, ahem, the man.

The rampaging rabbit jump kicks and the dash meter provides extra zoom which also permits running up walls.

All the gang are here as Montana Max, Bookworm, Dizzy, Hamton, Plucky Duck, Calamity Coyote and Furrball provide the light relief.

Others feature but each stage is introduced principally by Buster and Babs.

I don’t think you can actually call them bosses per se, as mainstays are up to mischief rather than out to kill.

After all, this is Tiny Toons.

Stages include Acme Looniversity, The Wild West, Spook Mansion and Space Opera.

Archetypical of Konami, no expense is spared when capturing the cartoon’s immortal spirit as music suits each area while retaining that Tiny Toons feeling.

The standard action is broken up by bonus stages which are in effect mini games.

Spinning the alternative roulette wheel can randomly select squash, bingo and a tile swapping maze, all reaping rewards for success.

There is even an opportunity to play American Football.

It also helps that a lot of love and affection has been filtered through in the visuals department as the ultimate pessimist can do nothing apart from admire.

Variety is seamless because if you’re not riding a train, you’ll be escaping a collapsing building, a balloon ride or experiencing zero G.

It’s fairly short, understandably easy and thoroughly adorable.

This brings more joy than a properly pulled pint of Guinness and to quote Emil (Paul McCrane) from Robocop after giving the Cobra Assault Cannon a dance, “I LIKE IT!”

Euro Football Champ, Taito 1992

Originally called Football Champ and/or even Hat Trick Hero, it infected insert coin haunts clearly down on their luck.

I remember the emotional announcement of ‘Football Champ’ during the ‘attract sequence’ as I don’t think you can call it an intro…

Anyhow, it was laughably shit then and this port makes matters even worse.

With animation so appalling, you’ll either laugh or drown your sorrows with a bottle of cheap cider to ease the pain of purchasing such a woeful lump of shit.

I mentioned Super Soccer had an amusing goal celebration but this takes embarrassment to a whole new peak.

The goalkeeper’s acumen is appropriately useless and a disadvantaged slug would make a better shield.

What the fuck is with this game?


Yeah, that exaggeration is the highlight.

Nosferatu, Seta 1994

It’s impossible not to digress so let’s sink our teeth into this appetising neck.

More silent than the wind but louder than a nearby explosion, the 1922 horror classic was an unauthorised adaptation of Dracula, due to the inconvenience of not been able to secure the rights to Bram Stoker’s seminal work.

The word ‘Nosferatu’, meaning ‘vampire’, came from Stoker’s literature but F.W. Murnau’s film ultimately popularised the term, which is probably still a misconception in the public domain.

Hmmm, the name Dracula is ‘borrowed’ from Vlad the Impaler but Stoker never identifies him as being so.

In the 1992 Coppola movie, he reveals that he is indeed Prince Vlad.  Despite boasting a stellar cast including Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins, I wasn't particularly enamoured with this closely guided erotic adaptation and Keanu Reeve’s ‘faultless’ English accent was a stake through the heart.

Fairly predictably, the German version of Nosferatu chops and changes names.  Count Dracula became Count Orlok and Jonathan Harker is Thomas Hutter etc etc.

Bram Stoker’s estate was naturally a tad upset and a court ruling demanded that all associated to choke on garlic.

However, one copy remained and thanks to duplication and distribution, is the reason why it still exists today.

The rhyme or reason of why that solitary morsel slipped through the destruction net remains unknown.

If you cross reference to pixels, a boss in the Japanese version of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is simply called Orlok but you'll fight Olrox in the PAL version.

I suppose this was Konami’s tribute to a film almost as immortal as the legend himself.

‘Fangs for the insight,’ says a hungry virgin. ‘So spill, what about the game?”
‘Alright, keep yer’ skirt on.  Honestly, some bitches have no patience.’

Preying on the blood of innocents, the creature of the night kidnaps your beloved bird.

It’s up to her knight dazzling in armour to pop on his rescuing boots…

Instead of Jonathan Harker, we play Thomas Hutter.

Well you’d think so but no, it’s Bela Lugosi.

‘Get serious man.’
‘Wow, not content in being a miserable cow, you also fail to appreciate harmless banter.’

I’m actually not kidding about Messer Hutter as it’s some dude called Kyle and the damsel in much distress is Erin.

As we are not dealing with a literal adaptation, they can do what the hell they like...

This is largely a Prince of Persia rip off but is also mixed with an extremely basic Final Fight, or anything similar.

The Persian element is what you’d expect.  Climbing and dropping, going in, going out, without shaking it all about, while searching for the exit.

Numerous traps such as collapsing tiles, protruding spikes, saw blades and swinging axes attempt to thwart progress.

He can also slide to the left or right which is essential to pass under tight spaces.

Switches trigger a time limit before a portcullis closes so less haste more speed.

Exploration can be met with dead ends and fucking frustration.

Kyle can fight a good fight but doesn't care much for weapons…

Thinking with his fists and feet, mixing it up with dashing and jumping is the key to a fair assortment of attacks.

Although they have the AI or a suicidal salamander, we do fight a number of monsters such as zombies, werewolves, floating eyes, fat blobs, gargoyles, possessed books and Frankenstein’s experiments.

Chests reveal crystals and different types reap added time, vitality and extended vitality.

Graphics are nothing special but the animation is pretty decent.  Controls do suffer from being sluggish but are at least tolerable.

Animated sequences between stages are a welcome plus and emit a nice atmosphere.

Bosses are a total waste of oxygen as a shape-shifting mudman and rock golem thing just aren’t worth the time.

A good few levels stand before you and Nosferatu but he prefers to linger like a fart before morphing into a bat.

‘So what do you think, is it worth drinking?”
‘Well, I wouldn't exactly take my cape off to Seta but sourer blood has passed my lips.’

Monopoly, Sculptured Software 1992

Everybody has their own strategy and mine is to set up a potentially damaging housing and/or hotel trap of red, yellow and green.

Park Lane and Mayfair are too expensive at first…

Consoles and computers of whatever era are host to more versions than the classic board game itself.

Translating matters of financial annihilation to pixels was never a good idea and boy, how this piece of shit screams this fact from the tallest of trees.

I grew up with Mayfair, Bond Street, Old Kent Road, Kings Cross etc etc but here we deal with the Atlanta City names that nobody has ever heard of.

However, you can easily associate them with what we know.

Expect Illinois Avenue, New York Avenue and Boardwalk to be The Strand, Vine Street and Mayfair respectively.

For kicks, Luxury Tax is Super Tax.

It’s only a hunch but I suppose the penalties and benefits of Community Chest and Chance also beg to differ.

Yeah, I never played it long enough or really remember.

We have all the essential elements of buying/selling, paying rent, blah blah but animations and jingles do nothing to make this hum of anything interesting.

Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect your belongings and do not stop to take a piss.

I declare this bankrupt before dice was thrown.

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