To the bonfire we go.
PART 1 FIRST!
73 – PLATOON
I imagine navigating through swaths of Vietnam jungle would be confusing, particularly if you’re a terrified American boy who’s in over his head. Platoon replicates the roaming-through-Vietnam experience almost too well. It’s incredibly easy to get lost, and you’re forced to shoot mountains of Vietcong, even when you don’t want to. Sickening and frustrating in equal measures.
72 – BIBLE ADVENTURES
A surprising amount of animal rustling is expected from the player in Bible Adventures. And when you’re not lifting goats or sheep over your head as Moses and David respectively, you’re lugging Baby Moses across the length of the Nile with Miriam. Don’t let the alluring blue cartridge deceive you: there’s nothing sacred here.
71 – BACK TO THE FUTURE
“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” Notice Doc Brown didn’t follow that up with, “But we will need as many clocks as you can find!” The brilliant Back to the Future film is reduced to a clock-collecting spree, heavily inspired by Paperboy. If it weren’t for the occasional Biff Attack mini-game and Marty’s infamous guitar-slingin’, you wouldn’t know the game was based on the film. Back to the Future is a real sore butthead.
70 – BATTLESHIP
The board game “Battleship” is for tired parents with overeager children. The NES version of Battleship is for patient gamers with a willingness to be beaten. While it replicates the board game well enough, the computer knows exactly where you put your ships; it’s a cheap, cheating sonuva and that’s the bottom line. On top of that… it’s Battleship. I don’t know about you, but I’m not eleven.
Jesus’ early childhood deconstructed for oblivious Christian households – or so I assume. King of Kings isn’t sacrilege as much as it’s a snooze. Out of the three stories/game options, only “The Wise Man” could be considered to have gameplay, and what little it has was ripped from Super Mario Bros. 2. “Flight to Egypt” forces one to exercise Godly patience, while “Jesus & The Temple” is confusing and tired.
68 – DONKEY KONG JR. MATH
Nintendo’s “Educational” series began and ended with Donkey Kong Jr. Math. I suppose if you’re three and you like adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing with adorable gorillas, it might be ok. Back in my day, though, you went to school to learn, and you went home to game. As Spengler once said, don’t cross the streams.
67 – BIGFOOT
My dream for a Sasquatch hunting game continues to go unfulfilled. In the meantime, Bigfoot takes the rare monster-truck racing/demolition derby genre and smothers it with generous portions of cow plop. Dodgy, unresponsive controls are the main reason this beast doesn’t operate as it should. If anyone has ever gotten past stage two, let me know.
66 – COLOR A DINOSAUR
The virtual coloring book you never knew you didn’t want – because nobody thought a virtual dinosaur coloring book would ever be created for the NES, let alone sold for actual cash dollars. Filled with dopey “We’re Back” rejects, horrible color schemes, and music by Tommy Tallarico (?!), Color a Dinosaur has less than no reason to be a game.
Based on the ugly, unfunny “Addams Family” cartoon show, Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt could be considered just another bad platformer. It is really bad, though. Empty environments, poor controls, and washed-out graphics complement the bare-bones gameplay.
64 – BLUES BROTHERS
When a platformer doesn’t give you the option to attack enemies within the game, watch out. It’s either implementing brilliant ideas that will revolutionize the genre (unlikely) or it’s as poorly crafted as a game could get. In Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood are able to run, jump, and take damage – and that’s about it. Abort the mission, gentlemen.
63 – FESTER’S QUEST
“Behind every interesting design feature in Fester’s Quest lies a fatal flaw,” I wrote in my second review for the game. Indeed, Fester’s Quest‘s potential is undermined by poor feature implementation. A non-linear platformer with upgradable shmup-esque weaponry sounds enchanting until you invest some time in Fester’s depths.
62 – CASTLE OF DRAGON
In Castle of Dragon, your knight has a sword and shield that are supposed to work in tandem. In theory, block advancing enemies, then swing your sword when they step away. Fine and dands, except the enemies never stop advancing. Let up from blocking and you’ll take loads of damage. Swing recklessly without blocking, loads of damage. Castle of Dragon? Loads of damage.
61 – MONSTER TRUCK RALLY
The monster-truck genre can’t get a break on my list here. Monster Truck Rally should be one of the most exciting racing games on the NES, right? Crushing cars! Racing through mud! Careening around obstacle courses! All at… thirty-five m.p.h? Yup, MTR is slow-paced, steady-as-she-goes, to-everything-turn-turn-turn boring. It’s hard to shift, hard to control, hard to care.
60 – CAVEMAN GAMES
As Eric “Nintendo Legend” Bailey as my witness, I hate Caveman Games with the fiery passion of a thousand quasars. Perhaps I should view it as the party game it’s apparently supposed to be. Perhaps I should take its “challenges” with a sense of humor. I can’t. The “challenges” are lame, the concept is ridiculous, and the character design is painful. I’d rather play Winter Games every day of my life than be forced to do the “Dino Vault” again.
59 – ROBOCOP 2
The Robocop trilogy is the worst trilogy on the NES, without question. Interestingly enough, each game managed to suck in ways that were distinctly their own, while still being true to the trilogy’s ethos of terrible design. In Robocop 2, you have to arrest 60% of the criminals and collect 60% of the bottles in any given stage to progress to the next stage. Backtracking is a no-no, though, so if you fail to arrest/collect your share, you have to trek through the same rote atrociousness until you succeed. I wouldn’t buy it for a dollar.
Greg Norman’s Golf Power boasts of four-player simultaneous golf action with an actual golf course designer. It’s ambitious, and unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work. What the game really offers is load times… and load times… and load times. You’ll be wondering if your NES turned into a PS1.
57 – FUN HOUSE
Throwing red balls at explodable golden objects is about as zany as this Fun House gets. The game’s unconventional controls makes the experience more objectionable than needs be, too. Use the D-pad to turn your Fun House inhabitant, ‘A’ to move them, and ‘B’ to shoot balls. Trust when I say it’s awkward, uncomfortable, and destroys whatever potential this game-show adaptation may have had.
Many a retro gamer grew up with a bad Simpsons game. My particular poison was Space Mutants, an overly complicated nightmare of a title that tested my love for both the Simpsons and gaming. Bart can’t walk properly, it’s often unclear what you’re supposed to do, and if you mess up a task, you have to start the whole game over to attempt it again. Not worth the pennies in your swear jar.
Another slap-dash, hastily assembled licensed title in need of a soul. The standard run-Stimpy-run platforming stages are disagreeable enough, but it’s the “Space Madness” scenes that are the real butt-nutters. Guiding a constantly-moving Ren through space, not once, but several times is about as painful as the “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song on infinite repeat.
54 – WOLVERINE
“Like Silver Surfer or the X-Men ensemble in their respective NES titles, Wolverine is stripped of his strength to give the game a greater challenge,” I stated in my original Wolverine review. Even if Wolverine didn’t take off health every time Wolvie used his claws or touched an enemy or breathed, it’d still be a schlocky, design-by-numbers platformer.
53 – SUPER PITFALL
Pitfall Harry dons a Mario disguise and stumbles into non-linear, wander-where-thou-wilt territory previously explored in Goonies II. Supposedly a loose remake of Pitfall II, Super Pitfall was a misguided attempt to update the series for the “next generation” of consoles. It’s a glitchy mess with maddening, cryptic design.
Wizardry aside, no NES game has ever benefited from a first-person viewpoint. In Dungeon Magic, the first-person view causes massive lag and horrible background load times. There might be a decent RPG under the abhorrent window dressing, but I didn’t have the patience to find out.
51- CALIFORNIA GAMES
Stick the word “Games” at the end of any title and it’s almost guaranteed to disappoint. California Games furthers that theory with six barely controllable mini-games. Avoid them all except for “Skating,” which includes a wonderful animation of a person falling flat on their face.