A buffet of madness.
PLAYERS: 1 – 2 simultaneous
RELEASE DATE: 1992
Caltron 6-in-1 has one of the more interesting back stories of any NES game. It was first released in 1992 by Caltron, a Taiwanese company who had never produced a game prior to 6-in-1. They released it on the American markets and promptly went out of business. Myriad, another soon-to-be-doomed company, bought the rest of the 6-in-1 cartridges, re-labeled them as 6-in-1 Myriad, and sold them on the market. As expected, Myriad went out of business shortly after, and the actual cartridges for Caltron 6-in-1 or Myriad 6-in-1 are worth upwards of a couple thousand dollars on the market. Both games, however, are exactly the same game, and both versions are extremely rare.
So how are these fabled six games? Are they worthy of a couple thousand dollars worth of play? Hah! What game is? I’d say, if they were estimated at actual play value, they’d be worth about five bucks, tops. Here’s why:
Everybody likes Space Harrier, the old Sega arcade game that pretended to be 3D and had a sweet arcade cabinet. Cosmos Cop is a rip-off that has you “defeating a terror from Alienation space invaded galaxy!” The words in quotation come directly from the game, but the exclamation mark I added for extra emphasis, in case anyone’s curious. The game wouldn’t be all that bad, if it were just a tad easier to avoid the enemies’ projectiles. Despite the smooth controls, I couldn’t seem to shoot and avoid enemies as quickly as I wanted to. Sorry, Cosmos Cop, you’re a loose cannon and you’ll have to be let go.
MAGIC CARPET 1001
“1001 Arabian Nights,” I suppose, is the reason behind this game’s title, or perhaps the game contains 1001 levels of the same generic shmup action. Usually, I can get behind a shmup as long as it’s fast and contains upgradeable weaponry, but Magic Carpet 1001‘s weapon system is sloooowww. Your main character is an Arabian guy flying on a magic carpet and his weapon of choice is a bow-and-arrow. Fair enough, I guess, but why can’t he shoot faster? His carpet has to bail him out time and time again, but the farther you progress in the game, it’s not enough to simply avoid enemies. Their patterns become too crazy, but your bow-and-arrow is still too damn slow. Alas, this game, while not atrocious, had more potential.
Honestly, I was expecting a Balloon-Fight “homage,” but instead I played what is perhaps one of the weirdest concepts I’ve seen in a video game (Mr. Mosquito notwithstanding). The whole purpose of Balloon Master is to shoot spittle at a giant bubble (“balloon,” my eye). The giant bubble, once hit, turns into smaller bubbles, and then smaller, until finally, after about three or four hits, they disappear. Believe it or not, there is a strategy to this game, but it’s poorly realized. You can only spit upwards, which means, if the bubble is bouncing to your side, you can’t turn towards it and spit at it. Unfortunately, the more the bubbles bounce, the closer they bounce to the ground. Eventually, you’re unable to avoid them, they hit you, and you die. It’s a game redeemed only by its bizarre premise and the notion that, if you die from being hit by a bubble, there’s a chance you could be a woman in disguise.
ADAM & EVE
The plot thickens. No, this isn’t the Book of Genesis simulator we were all hoping for. Instead, this is the Balloon Fight “homage” I was expecting from “Balloon Master.” One player plays as Adam and the second player plays as Eve, and the goal is to pop the balloons off of your enemies’ backs. Yes, your enemies’ are snakes, but they don’t appear to be tempting you in anyway. If this is Caltron’s attempt at making a game based on the fall of man, I think it’s safe to say they failed. It’s not even a good Balloon Fight clone. Little “redeeming” value in this one.
No, you don’t play as a Porterhouse steak, but you do control a portly little guy who has to move boxes onto stars in order to win the level! Seriously, this is a puzzle game a la Boxxle, where the goal is to move boxes onto specific areas of the level. Porter reminded me of Lolo sans the brilliance. It goes from ridiculously easy to terrifyingly hard within three levels. The “B” button is your restart and you can only push boxes around, not pull them, which is frustrating when you’ve got a small space to work in. The people who developed this game felt the need to put their names on the title screen, unlike the rest of the games. Their pride is misplaced.
Once again, I assumed Caltron misspelled “Boogyman.” Turns out, they’re just crazy. This game has nothing to do with books nor is there a man anywhere in the game. Instead, Bookyman is a copy of Williams’ Make Trax with some Crush Roller involved for good measure. At least that’s what Wikipedia says and Lord knows that site’s never wrong! For my money, the game felt like Pac-Man, if Pac-Man were a cockroach and he was being chased by two blood-thirsty frogs, and instead of collecting pellets, he had to paint the whole level, and every so often, a horned beetle would challenge his authority by making tracks on his freshly painted level, so he’d have to go over parts of the level again with a fresh coat of paint and some delicious justice for the beetle; and if he had an audience consisting of a lion, a teddy bear, a dog, a cat, and that silly penguin from Antarctic Adventure. So maybe it’s not that much like Pac-Man, but then again, it’s a lot like Pac-Man, if you get my Caltron way of thinking.
I kid and I deride, but truthfully, these six games could have been a lot worse. I was expecting an Action-52 tragedy, not six halfhearted, but surprisingly playable attempts at a video game. I would consider my five bucks more or less well spent.