Too Much Free Time

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

Archive for March, 2008

First Impressions: Zombie Nation

Posted by Tracy Poff on March 24, 2008

This time a shoot-em-up, Zombie Nation, known in Japan as Abarenbou Tengu.

The plot of Zombie Nation is odd, and I doubt that it matters. You’re a flying samurai head, and you are apparently charged with rescuing America, the population of which has been turned into zombies. Maybe.

There were lasers scattered liberally throughout the level which reduced me to one life unit, so I died quite often at first. You have only one life, and limited continues, each of which returns you to the beginning of the level. Therefore I relied on save states to explore.

It seems that you are meant to rescue people who will occasionally fly out of buildings and things as you destroy them. Collecting four such people allows you to have more shots on the screen at a time, and eventually allows you to use a special attack which targets the whole screen. The first level culminates in a battle against the Statue of Liberty, which seems to have become a medusa at some point.

Abarenbou Tengu is rather different. In a stunning display of needless changes in localisation, the samurai head you play as in Zombie Nation is not present in the Japanese version. Instead, you play as a tengu head. The Statue of Liberty, too, was changed in localisation: in the Japanese version, it was not a medusa, and was red besides.

I played further on Abarenbou Tengu than Zombie Nation, so I do not know how things changed after the first boss, but I do have to wonder how they might have changed the second boss:

Perhaps it’s better not to know. Still, despite the odd localisation and initial difficulty, Zombie Nation is a pretty good game. Certainly worth wasting a few minutes on.

Posted in 1990, First Impressions, Good, Horizontal Scrolling Shooter, NES | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: The Adventures of Captain Comic

Posted by Tracy Poff on March 24, 2008

This time a platformer, The Adventures of Captain Comic.

Like The Adventures of Bayou Billy, Captain Comic is frustratingly difficult. Most of the time, there are three or four enemies on the screen at once, and they respawn a few seconds after you kill them.

The level designs place many obstacles in your path, and though the controls are generally quite responsive, I found it difficult to manage the fine control to move on small platforms without running off into the abyss.

There were several different areas with unique backgrounds and enemies, each of which had different movement patters. This variety is nice, but unfortunately each area is similarly difficult.

Having read a guide after my attempt, it seems like some of the areas seemed so totally unfair because I tackled the game in the wrong order, but the complete lack of guidance made it impossible to know just what I ought to have done. Were it not for the benefit of save states, I’m sure I would have given up before seeing the third area, for the effort to get through the game is completely disproportionate to the entertainment granted.

The game looks fairly good for an old NES game, the music, though very repetitive, isn’t bad, and the controls are good if a bit too enthusiastic. Unfortunately, the game’s difficulty more than compensates for these positive points. I can’t recommend the game unless you don’t mind frustration.

Posted in 1989, Decent, First Impressions, NES, Platformer | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Adventures of Bayou Billy

Posted by Tracy Poff on March 16, 2008

The Adventures of Bayou Billy is a beat-em-up, with a driving and shooting game thrown in for variety.

Bayou Billy won’t be winning any awards for its plot. Some bad guy has kidnapped your girlfriend, and you have to rescue her.

He’s even kind enough to let you know that you will be encountering obstacles on your way to his estate. What a nice guy.

The game behaves pretty much like your bog standard beat-em-up, with a button for punch and one for kick, and pressing both together doing a flying kick. You can pick up weapons that you knock out of your enemies’ hands and to use against them. The difference, though, is that Bayou Billy is hard. It’s not so bad against one enemy, but you’ll find yourself fighting against three at a time, who are not stunned when you hit them, take many hits to kill, and are fairly quick-moving as well.

Fortunately, they are also fairly stupid, and will happily walk around in circles without hitting you, if you move just a bit. They also occasionally drop food, which heals you.

Humans aren’t your only foes, though. You’ll also encounter crocodiles in the water, which are quick moving and can attack you when you’re near the water’s edge.

When I got to the right side of this screen, it didn’t scroll any further, and since I couldn’t seem to harm the crocodile, I quickly died.

The game does include, as I mentioned, a driving subgame and a shooting subgame, which can be accessed from the practice menu, and apparently appear as levels later in the game.

Neither of these subgames was anything spectacular, although the shooting game did have the benefit of being playable with or without a zapper. Nice, since the emulated zapper uses the mouse, and playing with my laptop’s touchpad was very difficult indeed.

The Adventures of Bayou Billy was called Mad City in Japan, and was considerably easier.

My feeling from playing a few minutes is that the enemies died in about a third as many hits in Mad City. Furthermore, the screen that wouldn’t go anywhere in Bayou Billy and had only crocodiles had divers in Mad City, and continued once I defeated them.

No crocodiles in Mad City. Perhaps I didn’t step on a trigger or something while playing Bayou Billy, which caused the divers not to appear. Maybe.

Anyway, I think that Mad City is probably better than Bayou Billy, although I only played either one for a few minutes. My final opinion is that Mad City is worth playing, but I’d avoid Bayou Billy, since its difficulty is just not fun.

Posted in 1988, 1989, Beat 'em Up, Decent, Full Review, NES | Tagged: | 1 Comment »