Too Much Free Time

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

Archive for the ‘First Impressions’ Category

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 »

First Impressions: The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt

Posted by Tracy Poff on December 9, 2006

Another Addams Family-themed platformer, in which you play as Pugsley who (apparently) has to rescue his family.

Much like the previously-reviewed Addams Family game in which you play as Gomez, this is a pretty standard platformer.

I have no idea what’s wrong with Pugsley’s eyes. The other graphics are pretty decent, but the character sprite for our hero is kind of… bad. But that’s not a major issue.

You can run about outside the mansion or enter it to find several doors, each apparently leading to a quest to rescue a particular family member.

The stairs are a bit annoying, since you just run right off the side if you keep going. You have to jump back to the left in order to ascend them, which is a bit of bad design.

Once you choose a door, you are presented with the usual obstacles: enemies, projectiles shot by those enemies, blocked doors, and spikes (or something) on the floor that kill you. Additionally, there are hints scattered about that tell you what you should be doing.

I didn’t actually rescue anyone, but this game seems like it could be pretty decent. Probably better than the previous Addams Family game, so worth a try.

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

First Impressions: The Addams Family

Posted by Tracy Poff on December 8, 2006

This one is a platformer in which you play the part of Gomez Addams.

It’s actually a pretty standard platformer. Collect the treasures, avoid the enemies and spikes.

I’m not totally sure what the goal is, since I couldn’t quite work out how to exit the level, but I doubt it’s anything special. This game does seem to have rather uneven level designs. The above pictures show the usual screens: walk right and jump over the bad guys, or bounce off of their heads. On the other hand:

This is way too many spikes for a single screen. I couldn’t get through this part after a few tries, so I gave up and tried another screen.

In all, this is an average platformer with nothing special to set it off from the rest, as far as I can tell from playing the first level. Try it if you want to play every platformer ever, but otherwise the mario games are much more worthwhile.

Posted in 1992, Decent, First Impressions, NES, Platformer | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

First Impressions: A Ressha de Ikou

Posted by Tracy Poff on December 8, 2006

A search on Wikipedia tells me that Maxis released this game in the US as A-Train, and it is a simulator in which you build a railway system.

Well, I like the old SimCity games, so I like Maxis, so I should like this, right? Let’s see:

Well, it doesn’t look bad so much as it doesn’t seem to have any interface. Playing with the buttons didn’t seem to do anything, but not to worry; there is a help screen:

Unfortunately, the help screen isn’t very helpful. Still, I persevered, pressing buttons at random on the theory that a million monkeys playing a million copies of A-Train will eventually figure out the controls. The biggest change I made was causing it turn turn to night:

Actually, I’m pretty sure that that was either timed, or just based on how many buttons I’d pressed, rather than any particular action of mine. I couldn’t work out what to do with this before my patience ran out, so I quit. Japanese people play pachinko games too, but that doesn’t make them good games; it’s no surprise that this game was a dismal failure in the US, despite its huge success in Japan. Avoid it.

Posted in Bad, First Impressions, NES, Simulation | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

First Impressions: 8 Eyes

Posted by Tracy Poff on December 8, 2006

This game is like Castlevania, except much, much harder.

When the game begins, you select which country to play in first. I understand that it’s something like Megaman: play in the wrong order, and the game is much harder.

The game really looks quite a lot like Castlevania, and plays similarly, too, with one major difference: in 8 Eyes, you have a falcon with you, and some enemies can only be destroyed by the falcon. Unfortunately, you only have control over the falcon when there are two players–the second player controls the falcon. With one player, the falcon just flies left and right, and your control is limited to telling it to swoop down to attack or return to your shoulder.

The result of this lack of control is that the game is way too hard with one player, and I can’t imagine why anyone would play it just to control the falcon. Give this one a miss.

Posted in 1988, Bad, First Impressions, NES, Platformer | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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.


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.


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

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?


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


The Japanese version was called Buggy Popper:


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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 »