Retro Club - First and Second Samurai
  • I've recently completed The Adventures of Batman & Robin on MD, and will finish the NES Batman during the week at work, so I'll post my thoughts on those, but I'll be carrying on with Super Metroid this week.  I've just picked up the grappling gun.
  • Before I give a review on Metroid II I think I should first give a brief history of myself with the series. I originally got Metroid on the NES back in the late 80s early 90s, I didn’t like it. Not because of anything wrong with the game, it was simply to hard to figure out for my <10 year old self and I got bored, sold it on and went back to Castlevania etc.

    Fast forward to about 1998 and I purchased Super Metroid from my local independent game retailer. The N64/PS gathered some dust whilst I was simply blown away by SM wondering why I ever chose DKC over it in 1994, it was a pivotal moment in gaming for me... stop being a graphics whore!

    It wasn’t until MP3 on the Wii that I played another Metroid title and since then I’ve completed the original Prime, Zero Mission, Other M and finally Fusion. This brings us to...

    Metroid II: Return of Samus
    On the one hand as a Game Boy game it’s quite incredible, it’s amazing that they managed to make an adventure so true to the Metroid universe. Compared to Super Mario Land this is much more comparable to its bigger brother on the console. The world is a fair old size (it took me 5h 39m to get through) and it’s got its fair share of secrets, although I have no idea how I did as there was no percentage stats on completion, just the game time.

    Having said that, one of the first things to impress me about this game initially were the graphics. Samus as well as the enemies are nice, big and bold (no doubt designed that way to make things clearer on the old GB screen) but they create their own problems. They’re so big they take up to much of the screen, everything feels a bit claustrophobic.

    I found myself getting hit by enemies coming onto the small screen too quick for me to react. The fights with the Metroids themselves being particularly tricky because of this. There were times when I could see it on the edge of my screen only for it not to react to me, by the time I edged forward a tad it would then be on top of me giving me minimal time to get a shot off. This also happens when shooting at an enemy/Metroid just off screen, if it wasn’t on the screen when you shot, it simply wouldn’t register a hit.

    I know this may seem harsh as it’s just the technical limitations of the GB, but I can’t help but feel if the sprites were smaller and the screen panned out a bit to give a bigger picture of the environment, these issues wouldn’t exist. I mean just compare the screens below of Metroid II to Batman on the GB.

    tumblrinlinemfbhcfy2ca1.gif

    No doubt Metroid looks better but look how much space the is to maneuver around in in Batman. I think having a wider view would have made Metroid more enjoyable, which is much more important than graphics - DKC remember!

    On the plus side there’s plenty of upgrades available, I especially like the Spider Ball. The upgrades themselves don’t seem to do much as far as progression goes though, that instead is done by a series of earthquakes that hit every time you get to a certain checkpoint within the game which I found a bit disappointing. There also doesn’t seem to be too much of a need for some of the beams, the Ice Beam for example I used for all of 5 minutes at the end of the game, was it even required? Then again maybe this is as much a positive as a negative, we all seem to moan that games are to streamlined these days, Zelda being a culprit; 'oh this chest contains the hook shot, guess I’ll need that to compete this dungeon and defeat the boss eh?'

    Oh and another thing, I was right at the end of the bloody game and was not only low on health but missiles so I had to track back to pick some of both up. Why don’t the save stations refill these for you? When did that start? Did they refill you in Super? Prime? Other M? AND WHY ISN’T THERE AN IN GAME MAP!!! Lucky for me the internet exists and I found one there, could have been a lot longer than 5h 39m if I hadn’t. Guess it just shows this games age and how pampered we are now in modern games.

    Anyway, really tough one to judge retrospectively. As a GB game in 92 its top drawer, but the minor gripes I have with it won’t allow me to give it a top mark. It just about scrapes a...
    4/5

    Anyway, glad I finally done this. Hope you all enjoyed what you Played of Super Metroid over the last couple of weeks, especially those playing it for the first time. Hope you enjoyed it @Moot_Geeza
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  • Hope you all enjoyed what you Played of Super Metroid over the last couple of weeks, especially those playing it for the first time. Hope you enjoyed it @Moot_Geeza

    Nice review.  I'm definitely enjoying Super Metroid.  It's entirely possible it would be somewhere in my all-time top twenty if I'd played it in the early-90s.  There are games with more finesse to the maneuverability of the character (it shows its age a tad when you get trapped in the woman eating plant things, for example), but not much within 100 miles of it in terms of genius 16-bit game design.  I'll definitely finish it soon.

    Also, up to level 4-1 on NES Batman, which is superb.  Great music too.
  • nice review!
    Currently playing Modern Ops and Luigi's Mansion 3
  • Are there any good Batman arcade games? I'm mostly playing arcade stuff atm so would give one a go.
  • JonB wrote:
    Are there any good Batman arcade games? I'm mostly playing arcade stuff atm so would give one a go.

    Just had a quick go of the Atari side scroller from 1990 on MAME. It's a movie tie-in with still shots from the film etc. It seemed to have oddly complex animations, but there were some nice touches to the backgrounds and it played reasonably well (wasn't keen on the pitiful jumping kick though). It also had an on-rails Batmobile section where you just control a crosshair. Seemed reasonable enough to me.
  • thats a good point, I can't ever remember seeing a batman in an arcade..
    Currently playing Modern Ops and Luigi's Mansion 3
  • Up to 5-1 on Batman for the NES. I can't think of many 8-bit games that tick all the required boxes quite so well. The graphics are good, the tunes are some of the best I've heard on the system, it's very playable (with an excellent wall jump and some well designed platform sections), tricky in places whilst maintaining a decent level of fairness, and it doesn't short-change you on length. Towards the end of the game you have to be quite selective with your weapons too.

    I've played a few Batman games over the years, but this is probably my favourite pre-Arkham Asylum escapade.
  • Batman (NES)

    Moot covered all the basics there. I'll just add that it's probably one of the best NES games, up there with Mega Man and Castlevania imo. Very underappreciated gem of the NES library.

    5/5
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  • the batman based on the cartoon on the snes is cool.
  • Yeah, I remember Adventures of Batman and Robin being good. Didn't mind Batman Returns either as scrolling fighters go. Both were Konami games I believe.
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • Yeah Batman Returns was good but suffered from not being 2 player, not a lot could be done about that though seeing as Robin wasn't in the movie.
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  • I played the arcade game based on the first Burton film. It wasn't very good really. Simple even for an arcade game of that age, and the control was slow and unresponsive. The only saving graces were some nice verticality to the level design and its generosity with lives and restarts.
  • Finished Batman this evening.  Not got a lot to add, but I'll reiterate how impressed I was with the music.  Probably in my top ten 8-bit games all things considered.

    92%
  • davyK
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    Here comes Battletoads.....anyone playing this for the first time - be prepared to gnash your teeth on level 3.
    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • Thirty one (week): Battletoads (NES)

    Rare's shameless cash-in on the Ninja Turtles sensation that resulted in an endearingly frustrating scrolling beat 'em up.  Whilst the characters are only a few steps away from The Biker Mice From Mars, or the crappy frogs from the TMHT cartoon (Raputin & co.), the game itself is fondly remembered by misty-eyed gamers who weathered the storm (or at had a valiant stab at it) in the early 90s.  The infamous speed bike section is a semi-legendary test of memory and reflexes.  Save states are highly recommended this week, good luck!

    battletoads01.png

    Play and discuss, or simply reminisce.

    Schedule:

    (10/06, week): Budget Master System Week - Action Fighter, Teddy Boy and The Ninja
    (17/06, fortnight): Toki (Arcade, Megadrive, Amiga)
    (01/07, fortnight): Castlevania IV (SNES)
    (15/07. week): Free choice Parodius
    (22/07, week): Scrolling Beat 'em up free choice
    (29/07, fortnight): El Viento (Megadrive)
    (12/08, week): Atari 2600 High-Score Challenge Returns
    (19/08, fortnight): Yoshi's Story (N64)
    (02/09, week): Rollergames (NES)
    (09/09, fortnight): Actraiser (SNES, VC)
    (23/09, fortnight): Grand Theft Auto (PS, PC)
    (07/10, week): New Zealand story (various)
    (14/10, week): Bitmap Bros free choice
    (21/10, fortnight): Vectorman (MD, compilations)
    (04/11, fortnight): PC Kid 2/Bonk 2 (PC Engine, VC)
    (18/11, week): Wonderboy week
    (25/11, week): Kirby week

    (02/12, fortnight): Solstice II/Equinox (SNES)
    (16/12, week): Fantasy Zone (MS)
    (23/12, fortnight inc. Christmas break): Pinball free choice
    (06/01, fortnight): Blackthorne (various)
  • This is on other formats too, right? Any differences, or any particularly good/bad?
  • The Megadrive port didn't get great reviews.  It probably is slightly better, but I think I'll stick with the NES version as I'd rather play an 8-bit game that pushed the console than a 16-bit game that was basically a NES game with a half-hearted layer of gloss.  Wikipedia suggests there was an Amiga port, as well as a couple of handheld versions, but I couldn't tell you what they were like. 

    There's an arcade sequel from '94 if you fancy that, apparently it was developed by Rare.
    In 2013, it was ranked as the 11th top beat 'em up video game of all time by Heavy.com[4] and included among the best looking beat 'em up games from the 16-bit era by Kotaku Australia
  • Up to level four on Battletoads. A few initial thoughts:

    The difference between early and late NES releases is astonishing. We talk about squeezing extra juice out of the current gen consoles throughout their lifespan, but this is ridiculous.

    The bungee section was pilfered by Shiny for Earthworm Jim.

    The first boss - where you're being shot at in first person mode and need to throw rocks at the screen - is a great example of the ingenuity Rare showed before their talents started to wane.

    This might be controversial....but the speed bike section (level three? Is there a harder one later on?) really isn't that tough. This is coming from someone who finds it astonishing that anyone has ever completed the ceiling boss on UN Squadron (or seen the end of most of the shooters I've played in this thread), so I'm not trying to make out I've got the skills....but it was just a trickier version of the magic carpet ride from Aladdin on MD, that pre-dated it obviously, and no-one ever really moaned about that. I used save states at each checkpoint, but I only died around eight times anyway. OK, so it's clearly not easy, but I'll reckon I could get through it without save states in around ten minutes of trying, especially the checkpoints are pretty liberally placed. I'll let you know whether this turns out to be bollocks after I've completed it. Compared to the difficulty of even the middling levels in Super Meat Boy and the like, on first impressions it was relatively straightforward.
  • davyK
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    Back in the day I was consistently able to get past the bike section - actually there is a warp in that section that throws you forward a couple of levels - look for a little white firework effect which is a portal that warps you ahead if you touch it. I only used it once or twice as back then I played for score as well. You miss the entertaining snow level if you use the warp (yes - entertaining. I usually hate snow/ice levels in anything but this one was quite good if memory serves).

    I also like the little space invaders in level 3 that try to steal segments from your health bar.

    The bike section is a bastard without save states though - no doubt - because when you get a game over it is back to the start. Then you start making mistakes earlier on and the whole thing becomes a torture. Save states take the off pressure too - which neuters the game experience quite a bit.

    Back then I got stuck on a vertically scrolling level called "Intruder Excluder" with lots of horrific spring propelled jumps that has a seemingly indestructable boss at the top - never got past that boss.

    The Megadrive version is a pixel perfect remake but it plays a bit easier - colours might be a bit better in 16bits but the music on the NES is better. Level 2 is one of the best looking levels I have ever seen on the NES - I can remember being blown away by it.

    It might be worth giving the SNES sequel a blast too if you get time - excellent job - and the graphics are a lot bigger and bolder along with the tempered difficulty.

    Battletoads is a hoot in 2 player because you can hit / pick up the other guy. You won't get very far but it was a laugh back then. The big difficulty with it is that if one of you runs out of lives then you both go back to the start of the level - but the surviving player retains the health bar level & lives - and so is favourite to run out of lives soon - sending both back again - ad infinitum.

    The SNES version has the option to switch hitting each other off if you want to try and get further than level 1 together! It retains the infuriating way of handling life loss though.


    @Moot_Geeza : Did you get to fly on the dragon's back in level 1? You can make him shoot fireballs etc. The problem with emus and save states is that you may miss out on little gems like that which you would probably miss when passing through a level once.

    Level 2 is a great score chaser as once you pick up a blade you can repeatedly hit the same enemy for more points and you can get a 1up if you hit the same enemy enough times.
    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • davyK wrote:
    @Moot_Geeza : Did you get to fly on the dragon's back in level 1? You can make him shoot fireballs etc. The problem with emus and save states is that you may miss out on little gems like that which you would probably miss when passing through a level once.

    Nope, must've missed that. I'll have a look when I replay the beginning to get to the bike section.

    I'm shocked this is a two player game - is it simultaneous? With graphics this good that's unusual for an 8-bit game. Chip 'n Dale, Quartet, Double Dragon (MS anyway...possibly the sequels on the NES), Spy Vs Spy, Rampage, Turtles 2. Not many other non-sporting MS/NES games string immediately to mind, although I'm hardly an expert on the NES, and Battletoads looks better than any of those. It's an impressive technical feat, for sure. Golden Axe and Altered Beast were single player on MS, for example.
  • davyK
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    Yeah - simultaneous - both players just press start and off you go.

    It's a nightmare to play though - it is funny but you will get nowhere - the AVGN covered it....skip to 2'40'' to see the 2 player mode.



    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • I've played the surfboard/hoverboard section, which I found far tougher than the speed bike one.  The vertical snake levels were nails too.  I'm using save states of course, so I'm not sure, but did the game at least offer infinite continues?

    You really shouldn't be able to hit each other in two player - the bit where one death kills both of them made me laugh.  I was going to mention the funky pause music actually.
  • davyK
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    No infinite continues.....think you have a modest number of credits and there's a cheat to give you a few more lives and credits - but it doesn't help that much. There are the warps but I don't like taking shortcuts.

    There's a level you must be getting close to that has you flying on a rocket a la hori shmup and you are avoiding flames and flying through gates etc. that I found pretty enjoyable.

    A remember getting the knack of avoiding the whirlpools on the surfing level = once you get that it isn't too bad.

    Snake level is cool but a lot of it is just learning by rote - there's a warp there too as far as I know.
    Moot_Geeza wrote:
    You really shouldn't be able to hit each other in two player - the bit where one death kills both of them made me laugh. I was going to mention the funky pause music actually.

    I'm actually impressed that they got to level 3 - don't think I ever got past level 2 in 2 player.
    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • davyK wrote:
    I'm actually impressed that they got to level 3 - don't think I ever got past level 2 in 2 player.

    sounds like a challenge eh @Moot_Geeza?

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  • davyK
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    go for it.....

    I can remember getting 2 players to level 3 in the SNES version but not sure if we got past level 2 on NES. Hats off to any duo who can conquer level 3 on either version.
    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • davyK wrote:
    I'm actually impressed that they got to level 3 - don't think I ever got past level 2 in 2 player.

    sounds like a challenge eh @Moot_Geeza?

    You're on.

    I'm up to that springboard level Davy, there's no point in agreeing that it's tough because every level is ridiculous now - the flying rocket section with the gates you mentioned was probably the toughest part for me so far though. I feel like I would have had to draw a diagram as a kid to get thorough it by trial and error, because it seems to be as much about memory as reflexes. In a couple of places you need to start to move up or down (or forward or backwards) the very instant you pass through a gate, if not before. Very, very tricky for a game with limited credits.

    Good stuff though. It reminds me of The Adventures of Batman & Robin on the Megadrive to a certain extent, in that it's a very good game that could have been truly great had the developers just toned the difficulty down by 15-20%.
  • Oh God. I've been stuck on a level called Rat Race for about half an hour. You're trying to drop through an obstacle course faster than a rat - if he gets to the bomb at the bottom first you die. I realised around ten minutes ago that you can hit the rat (quite fiddly to do whilst running), which I though would make things a fair bit easier. Nope. I think I'm running out of save states.
  • davyK
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    How many times did you have to hit that effing boss at the top of Intruder Excluder?

    Think you are close to the end now - maybe one or two levels after that bomb race.....



    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • Finished this.  Quite a slog, tbh.  A technical marvel with some superbly designed levels and plenty of variety (and everything controls nicely), but I stand by what I said earlier about the OTT difficulty making it far worse than it should have been.  I used to turn my nose up at Game Genie/Action Replay carts, but they would have been quite welcome for this game.  I'm proud to say I completed my fair share of hard as nails 8-bit games in the late 80s/early 90s, but I can say with 99% certainty that I wouldn't have had the patience/skill/sadomasochistic tendendies to have seen the credits for this.

    Once again, the length of a Nintendo game surprised me though.  I think there were thirteen levels.  Apart from Psycho Fox, and to a lesser extent the sublime Asterix, most MS platformers I had were titchy in comparison. 

    83%

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