Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

Archive for September, 2006

First Impressions: 75 Bingo

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 28, 2006

A horrible slots game by Sachen, the company that gave us Tasac and other gems.

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I don’t have much to say on this one, since I don’t see the point of these games that are totally luck-based gambling simulations.

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Verdict: Like other Sachen games, and other gambling sims, just don’t bother.

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Posted in 1990, Bad, First Impressions, NES, Slots | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: Brickout!

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 26, 2006

A foray into other consoles with the Intellivision’s ‘Brickout!’. It’s clear just from the name that it’s a Breakout clone, but is it a good one?

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Short answer: No.

It’s very simple. You get 20 lives, you move the bat along the bottom of the screen, the ball destroys the bricks it hits. This wouldn’t make it a bad game, by itself; it would only make it an overly simple one. The problem is that this game has such bad collision detection that the ball will slide through the corners of the bricks occasionally. It will get stuck in a row and take the whole row out. Not bad things, right? They make it easier, yes? They do, but I’d prefer some challenge.

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But the game does provide that. Since the game is old (I suppose), its controls are somewhat lacking, and the framerate is just bad. The ball is minuscule in comparison to the bricks or the bat, so it’s not that hard to lose track of it. It’s not too clear, when the ball is moving at a shallow angle, where the ball will be when it is on a level with the bat. Now, perhaps these things are minor, and I am just bad at the game, but either way, I won’t soon play this again.

Verdict: Arkanoid is better in every way. Play it instead.

Posted in 1981, Bad, Breakout, First Impressions, Intellivision | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

First Impressions: Parallel World

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 26, 2006

A puzzle game, of the push-things-around-to-reach-the-exit variety.

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We find our heroes on the school roof (I guess) when a hole opens in the sky and sucks them in.

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Yes, the sky is made of glass in Japan. They find themselves before a castle, and, being clueless schoolchildren, they enter. In order to leave this world they have to pass through the rooms of the castle.

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Each room has several creatures and several blocks which can be pushed around the room. Push a block over a creature to kill it and get a key, which opens the exit to the room. You can jump atop the white blocks and then walk to the exit. You may only walk along the blue paths on the blocks you slide around; fortunately these blocks can be rotated. If you push the blocks against the wall in the wrong order, you’re screwed. You can restart the level, but you get very few lives so you’d best get it right the first time. There appear to be four rooms to each world, and a number of worlds unknown to me.

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Verdict: It’s not too bad as puzzles go. It’s been done before, but for puzzle fans this one is worth a look.

Posted in Decent, First Impressions, NES, Puzzle | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: Palamedes

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 25, 2006

A rather fun Tetris-like game.

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Palamedes isn’t quite the usual falling blocks game. Instead, rows of blocks approach and it is your task to remove them by hitting them with matching block. You select which block to throw at them (from a cycle of six) and try to keep up. It’s something like Bust-a-Move, I suppose.

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After a few false starts, I made it to stage six. This one would probably be easier using a gamepad, but mine’s loaned out, so take the apparent difficulty with a grain of salt.

Verdict: It’s a good game. These are few and far between, so I’d check this one out if you’re a fan of falling blocks games.

Posted in 1990, Falling Blocks, First Impressions, Good, NES | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: Bump’n’Jump

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 25, 2006

It’s a driving game, of sorts.

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The Japanese version was called Buggy Popper:

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We start with a car driving away, with someone crying “Help me!” inside. Being the heroic gamers that we are, this is sufficient motivation for us to follow.

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The premise of the game seems to be that we have a car which can jump at will, and we like to land on other cars and destroy them for no reason. Well, except that it gets us points.

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Whoever designed these roads needs to be shot. Apparently in the bizarro-world that this game take place in, cars normally have the ability to jump (but only yours does, as far as I saw), so in order to save some of the cost of roads, they just left out some sections. Yeah, that’s logical.

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But, we can forgive some strangeness if it’s a good game, right? Of course we can. Unfortunately, the designers decided to take all of my good will and stomp on it, by putting in a ludicrously long repair sequence when you drive over one of the bonuses on the road:

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You sit at this screen for upwards of fifteen seconds while text flashes on screen assuring you that they are repairing your car and have not, in fact, run off with your money and girlfriend to Tijuana.

When you finally finish the first level, you are treated to the second level, in which the brilliant road designer decided that if there wasn’t any water to break up the monotony, then we’d just have to build some raised roads to block the lower ones instead.

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Of course, there are helpful black areas that look like tunnels to pass through. They aren’t. They are just there because the designer was sadistic. The problem is that if you jump any time when the little jump warning box is on the screen, you’ll end up hitting the wall anyway, and it’s much harder to figure out when to jump when you have to make it over a wall instead of just some water. You can’t really tell how tall the thing is, since, as we all know, you should never do 3D on an NES.

So, we crash and die, and the game ends. I don’t know what happened to that car we were chasing earlier. Probably some girl was kidnapped, and since we couldn’t catch her she was raped and killed. And it’s all the road designer’s fault.

Verdict: There are worse games. This is like a mix of Spy Hunter and Roger Rabbit, and it doesn’t do well at emulating either. Play Spy Hunter instead, since it had the good sense to give you guns for killing people with, and was a better game anyway.

Posted in 1986, 1988, Driving, First Impressions, NES | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: 3D Block

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 25, 2006

A falling blocks game, which appears from the title screen to be an adult game. Is it? See inside:

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I’ll answer now, to spare you any anxiety: if it’s an adult game, no one will ever know, because it’s impossible to get anything done.

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It’s not too hard to rotate the shape when it’s at the top, but once it gets further down it’s nigh impossible to tell how it’s oriented. Furthermore, it’s very hard to tell at a glance what the levels below the top are like.

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And what is that box on the lower right? Is it supposed to help me guide my blocks? It shows four blocks per level. There are sixteen blocks per level in truth. I don’t know how this is meant to help, but it’s about as useful as dictionary with every other letter missing–you know there’s more to it, but it doesn’t do you any good.

With all these faults, the only thing that let me complete the first level was the the blocks fall slowly–painfully slowly. You can press start to drop the block all the way, but there’s no way to move it down just a bit. When the second level comes, though, this isn’t a problem. Where the first level was far too slow, the second level is impossibly fast. The blocks fall completely in about a second, which is nowhere near enough time to orient them, much less position them accurately. So, we get this:

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And the game is thankfully over.

Verdict: This game shows why 3D should not be done on an NES. The 2D Tetris games are pretty good on the NES, so if you want falling blocks, play those instead.

Posted in Bad, Falling Blocks, First Impressions, NES | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: Tenchi wo Kurau II – Shokatsu Koumei Den

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 24, 2006

An RPG, and one that actually seems pretty cool.

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After a very lengthy opening, we find ourselves in the castle:

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Upon leaving the building, we gain two party members, and begin to explore the town. One issue I found was that although everyone starts with equipment, it’s not equipped, so you have to equip five items to each character, one at a time. An equip all feature would have been nice, but I guess you only have to do it once.

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The graphics are actually pretty good for an NES game, as you see when walking around the town and then entering the world map.

I didn’t play all the way through this, but it looks good so I probably will. One thing of note is that you don’t have hit points in this game. Instead, you are (nominally) commanding an army, so you lose troops when attacked, and your damage is dependent on how many troops you have left. Strangely enough, though, herbs still ‘heal’ you and a revive still restores you to full ‘health.’ Possibly the designers weren’t thinking it through very carefully. The battle screen is reminiscent of Final Fantasy:

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When you win battles, you gain experience, and your army levels up. You gain some kind of skills, but I haven’t played enough to see what they do yet.

Verdict: This seems like a good game. The graphics are nice and the battle system, while simple, is reasonably good. If it continues as it has begun, this game will probably be worth playing through.

Posted in First Impressions, Good, NES, RPG | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: Tasac

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 24, 2006

Tasac is a vertical scrolling shooter by Sachen, and it sucks.

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The title screen looks pretty cool, so one might expect the game to have decent graphics, or something. Most of your in-game time is spent in a position like this one:

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There’s no real challenge in this part, except that the laser-like weapon you start with sucks, and the upgrades suck even more. When you get to the end, the boss appears.

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But you can’t kill it yet. In fact, you can fly right over it. Why is the boss there before you’re able to interact with it? I don’t know. But the game carries on just as if the boss weren’t there. In fact, it carries on the same way even once you can fight the boss–the random enemies keep appearing, there’s just a boss on the screen at the same time.

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Although the boss shoots a pretty large number of projectiles at you, they’re not hard to dodge. If the weapon weren’t so stupidly slow and hard to use, they boss wouldn’t be even slightly difficult. As it is, the boss just takes a little longer than it ought to.

The second level was just like the first. I think that the boss was slightly rounder, but I don’t really care to recall.

Verdict: Pointless. It’s just a below average vertical scroller.

Posted in 1992, Bad, First Impressions, NES, Vertical Scrolling Shooter | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

First Impressions: Text Editor

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 24, 2006

Original title: “РЕДАКТОР ТЕКСТОВ”. In Latin characters: “REDAKTOR TEKSTOV”.

Broken, probably. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do, but it just shows several screens of text then loops. Nestopia complains about bad header info, or something. The first and last screens are:

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And that is that.

Update: According to the BootlegGames Wiki, this program needs a printer. I wasn’t aware that such a thing existed, but apparently some Famiclones had a printer port. The more you know!

Posted in 1996, First Impressions, NES, Unplayable | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: Flying Warriors

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 24, 2006

Yeah, it’s out of order. I hit ‘random game I haven’t played’ and I got this:

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Flying Warriors. It sounds like some kind of shooter maybe. Airplane game. That’s cool, I liked 1943. So, what do I get? Castlevania if it sucked and had a boring training sequence. But before training, some important wisdom:

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Okay, on to the training. Since the designers went to all the trouble of putting in training, this game must have some complex controls, or something. Let’s see:

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Yes, that’s right. Toward automatically blocks at the right level, and B automatically punches at the right level. You get to practice these complex manoeuvres several times before you grasp them fully.

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Yes! I am a master! I can now go out and make the world a better place! But, first, a practice match against sensei. Well, sure. I’m a master now. Piece of cake.

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So we fight and… he beats me down. Badly.

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So it’s back to training. Never mind that training couldn’t possibly help me, and that a monkey could manage these controls. So, we train again, he declares me a master again, we fight again, I lose again. Repeat. Repeat…

Finally, I win. So we get a scene change.

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So, the game begins with an exciting… empty screen! I have to move off it to an entirely different scene to get to the actual game. What was the point? Why waste my time putting this scene in if there’s nothing here? The next scene is some kind of mountain area, which kind of matches with the description, but that does not explain what the point of this last scene was.

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So, after that painfully long training and practice fight, we expect challenge, yes? But the enemies all die in one hit! The hardest part is managing the movement controls, since it seems to be impossible to make Rick (our hero) jump the way you want him to. After a couple of screens full of these zombie-like wimps, we enter a cave, filled with more of the same, as well as the far more dangerous bottomless pits.

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In fact, these pits are so much more dangerous, that they even kill the enemies, who just jump off like lemmings. But, remember how I said that jumping correctly was the hardest part?

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Yes, I too jump off like a lemming. The game tells me that Rick doesn’t let this stop him. Fortunately, it does stop me.

Verdict: You can’t skip the long intro, you have to go through boring training and practice fights, only to get to a game that acts like a bad rip off of Castlevania. Better to leave this one alone.

Posted in 1990, Bad, Beat 'em Up, First Impressions, NES | Tagged: | 1 Comment »