I’ve decided to play through all my cartridge games in my collection, playing each one for a half hour, and writing a brief review of each. A lot of these games I’ve only played once before, so it should be fun, I hope you enjoy the ride.
The system – although this first part of the review will be for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), a good place to start considering it contains the oldest material in my video game collection, I am not actually playing any of these games on the original hardware. Rather I am using the Retron II, a system that plays both NES and SNES games (and Super Famicom games too, not that I have any). I enjoy the system. I can’t compare it to the original hardware, but it seems to work adequately enough, you’d have to be a really anal retro gamer to claim that this system isn’t worth it, of course if you already have the hardware in good working order it might not be worth it but that’s beside the point. It costs slightly less than a used NES but plays twice (or three times) the amount of games. I’ve noticed that some of the sprites flicker and the playable character sometimes seem to be displayed in unusual colors, but again I can’t make any definitive statement that this is because of the system or because of the games themselves. Also quick side note, all the games are original, no flash drives, emulators, unlicensed multi-carts, or repros, rest assured.
Captain Skyhawks – I only played the game for a few minutes when I got it and didn’t enjoy it that much. This time was a better experience, I got a better hang of the controls and even made it to level (mission) 2. It’s still rather hard though, and not one of my favorites in the collection.
Faxanadue – a good fantasy adventure game, long (I assume at least) involving a lot of grinding, the first two big items cost 7,500 and 12,500 golds. Each bad guy drops about a hundred and change each time you kill them, and when you die, but when you die, boom your gold goes back down to 0. So what I do is wait just outside the second town, kill the one eyed frog like things, go to the next screen to respawn them, and keep going back and forth until I’m at about half life, then it’s back to the town hospital for a treatment (at 250 golds each) it’s slow but doable. I’ve only gotten as far as getting the magic armor (the 7,500 golds item) and this time around, I was only able to get up to about 4,000 golds in my half hour run, then saved the game. This is another problem; the game uses a complex password system. It’s best to take a picture with your phone. But even when you save (at least this time) the game only carried over 800 golds. I’d like to give this game a serious run through at some point, Sooner rather than later. Beautiful label on the cart too. Tan cracked marble, title: red in a light old English font, and a coat of arms: azure, a tree vert leaved azure, a crown or in bass. A highly regarded game in my NES collection, top five easily, but not a pick up and play game, this one requires long hours, but a must have for all NES collections, and fairly easily obtainable.
Festers Quest – up next is definitely not one of my top games. Very difficult game, 2 hit death, a goofy gun and so on. It’s not like I was duped into getting this game though. I got it after seeing and because of the AVGN review. It was hard to get through a half hour of this game which gives a lot more respect to the nerd, supposedly he puts 8 hours into the games he reviews, also not surprising that he’s put out so few reviews in these recent years.
Fighting Golf – what’s the name of the game? The end label reads “Fighting Golf” which is why I put it the line up in this position. But the front of the label reads “Lee Travino’s Fighting Golf” (whoever that is). Regardless don’t let the name fool you, this is not a fighting game, I think I was aware of that when I picked it up. It’s a good game, maybe even better than regular Golf (coming up next) the graphics are better, shooting options are a little more intuitive, character animations are cuter and/or funnier, and it has two 18 hole courses to choose from. For this review I played the US Round and got 53 over par, would have been lower if I remembered the control set up, much lower if I’ve played the game more often and/or more recently. I played a little longer than the allotted half hour stint so I could finish the round.
Golf – I originally had plans to do a significant review of this game, playing 18 rounds and giving my thoughts here and there, unfortunately I lost a lot of my notes when I changed phones. I don’t remember my best game, but I think it was 98 or 26 over par. This round here I got 105 or +33, not too bad, the game is a lot of fun and one of my first games for the NES., picking it up just after X-Mass 2014. This is also one of the original 18 launch games (a.k.a the black box games) for the NES, of which I have 7.
Hogan’s Ally – another black box game and the first light gun game in the review. It’s fun, but not quite as addictive as duck hunt. The game would be a lot more fun to play with a few people as opposed to playing by yourself. In my half hour run the scores I got were: Game A – level 23, Game B – level 3, and trick shot 53000 points.
Lunar Pool – one of the newest games in my collection. I picked it up because it wasn’t very expensive and I like pool, however this is not a pool game, it’s a puzzle game based on pool. With each level the table is shaped differently. The game is hard though, apparently when my wife was a kid she could get up to level 10, which is far beyond what I can do, she also hates the game because it’s so hard. I enjoy it, and you can start at any level you want without a cheat code. Despite only being in my collection for a week (at the writing of this) I’ve already put a few hours into the game, and that was during a rather busy week, it’s just that good.
Milon’s Secret Castle – another game I picked up because of the nerd, though this one is generally considered to be better than his usual fair. Which is true, it’s not that bad, but you need to know how to play it, or at the very least be very patient with the game, go through and shoot and/or push everything to see what comes up. The game play is not too hard, but there is only one life, and a hit counter of 7. There’s plenty of life to gain throughout the game, but plenty of opportunities to lose it too, and when you lose you go all the way back to the beginning. At some point I may play more of this game, and watch a few videos to help.
Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt/World Class Track Meet – and we get to the first multi-cart in my collection (of which there are three), and the question is asked: do you play the cart for a half hour or each game In the cart for a half hour each? Obviously you play each game, and review them seporatly.
Super Mario Bros. – honestly, there is not a whole lot I can say about this game that hasn’t already been said many times before. Surprisingly though, it is not one of my favorite games. Sure it’s better than a lot of other games in my collection, but compared to other Mario games it’s just not quite as good. Mostly it is so well regarded because of historic reasons: the first Mario game (kind of), the original Nintendo game, the original platformer (again kind of), and the game that was most responsible for saving the video game industry in the 80’s. When looking at all that, the two problems I have with it are minor at best. First, the 3 lives no continue is a little discouraging for me at least. Second, I don’t like how when you have a fire flower on and you get hit you drop all the way back to small Mario (mini Mario?). Now I’ve never given this game heavy play before, perhaps if I do I’ll be able to overlook these flaws that were quickly corrected in later iterations of the game. We’ll see. Anyways, really great game, and it almost goes without saying, but yes, must have for an NES collection. Surprisingly the stand alone version of this game is considerably more expensive and rare then this multi-cart (or the even more common Super Mario/Duck Hunt two pack game).
Duck hunt – My favorite light gun game and my favorite game on the three pack (yes even better then Mario), I was able to loss once through each game in the half hour play. Most of that time was spent on Game A, the well-known 1 duck per inning style; my score at the end was 397,000. Game B, the two ducks per inning variant, I didn’t do quite as well at only achieving a score of 118,600. Game C is not actually duck hunting but shooting clay pigeons, two per inning but much harder as the objects in question are smaller, the first few times I played Game C (prior to this review) I wasn’t able to hit anything, this time I did a little better, getting a score of 38,000, but it wasn’t that much better.
World class track meet – I can’t play this game because I don’t have the NES floor mat peripheral that is required to play, and I have no interested in picking one up. I’ve tried to see if there’s a way to hack a work through with NES controls but it didn’t seem possible, though I haven’t looked into it that deeply. It may be interesting to note that world class track meet is the remake of the infamous “Stadium Events” which as most people know is the rarest licensed game for the NES. The Duck Hunt/Mario combo already make this three pack one of my favorite games in the set, without the help of world class track meet.
Tetris – another legendary game that so much has already been said about. This is one of my all-time favorite games, though not specifically this version. Personally I prefer the DS version among all else with the fast drop feature and the save piece feature, also the colors on the NES version makes the game a little difficult for me. Nonetheless still a very good game, top 5 in my NES collection easily. In the half hour of playing I was able to rack up 76 lines in the highest run. I can do a lot better in the other versions, I’ve been even beaten the DS version by completing the 200 line challenge, which I understand is not an easy task.
To the earth – This is the first light gun game I got for the NES, though I did not know it was a light gun game when I got it. Despite the rather interesting label on the cart, there is no indication that it is a light gun game. Consequently I got it before I got a light gun, but that was remedied soon after (when I got the Mario/Duck Hunt multi-cart). This is my least favorite light gun game in my collection, mostly because it is so difficult. Maybe I’m missing something but it seems that the flashing white boxes that trigger the hit detection don’t seem to even be near the objects in question, but maybe I’m wrong. I had to sit on the floor directly in front of the TV to succeed at all, and even then not very much, the highest score I got in the half hour of playing was 7600 points, lasting for maybe 5 minutes at that shot, I never made it past level 1.
Trojan – I got this game for the title and no other reason, in fact I’m surprised I didn’t come across the title at some point earlier and put it on my wish list. Of course there are a lot of NES games. As for the game itself, it’s okay, a fairly basic beat’em up. It’s a little too hard for my likening though. When I tested it the first time I was able to get to the second level, but not this time, couldn’t get past the end boss. There are people that speed run this game in under 8 minutes, without using tricks and glitches.
Zelda II – why is it here in the order? Yes it starts with a Z or maybe an L depending on how you break it down, but there still 4 games left, so why? Well it’s one of the only officially licensed NES games to be on a gold cart (the gray cart version is considerably rarer, but not more valuable). It’s also not a very rare game but it is the most valuable game ($ wise) in my NES collection, because it’s so popular, people that have them are less willing to part with them. Perhaps not as popular as its predecessor, or as well liked, but it is a Zelda game and Zelda games are highly collectible. I actually like this game more than the first. If you’ve read my review for the first you’ll know that I got stuck because of the color, the same problem might happen here as well if I get far enough, but as of yet this hasn’t happened. In this test I got about half way through the first temple (which I think are called palaces in this game). This one might get a heavy play sooner rather than Later, but I’ll have to finish the cartridge review first.
Baseball – unlike the last 16 games in this review, despite being the first alphabetically, it is placed here because it is a five screw cart, the design is slightly different even on the top so it’s placed here for aesthetic reasons. It’s one of my wife’s favorite games, and I surprisingly find it pretty enjoyable to, though in don’t do very well, perhaps there’s a learning curve, or maybe it’s better with another person. I’ll find out eventually.
Gyromite – also called Robot Gyro on the title screen. This one of the two ROB compatible games. I don’t have a ROB and not much interest in getting one since they are expensive and don’t work particularly well anymore from what I here. The game itself though is not bad to play by yourself. You do however ever need two controllers, and since my second controller is criminally short I had to sit on the floor to play it. I made it up to level 15 during the test, it’s a fun little puzzle game.
Tennis – another of my wife’s personal fav’s. Like Nintendo’s other black box sports games in my collection (Baseball and Golf) this game is pick up and play, fun, and has a significant learning curve making it worth playing again and again. Games like this (and most of the others in the launch cannon) make the NES one of the best retro systems out there, and show how Nintendo saved the video game industry. One more to go for part one.
Wizards & Warriors – the other “first game” I picked up for the NES. I should note here that most of the NES games I played for this review, I had to blow and reinsert several times to get them to work, I don’t know if that’s a hardware problem or just standard practice. This game however is close to 30 years old, has been in my collection for a year and a half, was played only once before, and it worked perfectly the first time I put it in. I have no idea how electronics work, but I find it interesting. The game is actually pretty good, a little on the tough side, but unlimited continues that put you right back to where you died, so there’s no back tracking. It’s also a little confusing because the game is more vertically laid out then the standard left to right horizontal structure of a typical platformer. The game is another one worthy of some serious play, but again I don’t know when I’ll be getting around to that.
Afterwords – the NES, while not my all-time favorite system it is a strong brand and stands well against the test of time. It’s a fun system to collect for, with its large carts and space for label artwork, and an equality (if not more) fun system to play with its myriad games of many different styles, sure there are some that are not great, but a lot of them are. Of the 17 games I have thus far, 4 are only just okay, 1 is downright terrible, 5 are good and I’d be interested in dedicating some serious time and energy to playing, and 7 I’d be willing to play over and over again at any time for any reason. There is a reason why this system was so popular in its hay day (and not just because it was pretty much the only one), and why it remains the most popular retro system for play, collecting, and both. Now onto part two, the Sega Genesis.