(Caltron 6-In-1, 1992, Caltron)
Ok, here’s what (I hope) will be my first review for NESQuester, Caltron 6-in-1. For those of you who aren’t aware, 6-in-1 is one of the rarest games for the NES, in that special “no way I’ll ever get this unless I win the lottery” club of NES games, like Nintendo World Championships, Stadium Events, and the 3 Panesian 8-bit porno games. It’s widely considered to be the rarest and most expensive NES game that got a full commercial release, with Racketboy quoting it at between $525 and $2,500, and going between $280 and $20,000 (!) on Ebay. Amazon has the Caltron version (I’ll get to that in a second) listing for $1,200 CIB, and $320 loose, showing either that the collectible market has been affected by the sluggish economy just like everything else, or that people realize that some stupid people were overpaying for games that, while rare, suck ass. I believe that's called a "market self-correction".
"Who's the fucking MORON that ordered our labels smaller than Caltron's?"
Did I mention that there is 2 versions of this game? When Caltron inevitably went under, their remaining stock (the unsold 6-in-1 carts) was sold to a company from Texas called Myriad, who slapped new labels on the carts and packed them in a new box. The Myriad version is for some reason considered to be worth more, despite the two being the EXACT SAME GAME. And not the same game as in “Madden is the same game every year” or “GTA4 for the 360 and the PS3 are the same game”, but physically the same game and same cart, off the same production run. The only difference between the two is that Myriad slapped a different label on their carts, a cheap no-graphics job that was done so poorly that the original Caltron label can still be seen on the right side. Even the game still says “Caltron” on the title screen, and if you do a search on any ROM site for it, it will either come back with no results, or direct you to Caltron 6-in-1.
Does anything REALLY compare to this?
So what about the game itself? As you might have guessed, it’s 6 games on one cart. Because of this, it’s often compared to the bucket of ass we call Action 52. I've heard that this only went for $80, as opposed to $200, though I can’t confirm the MSRP either way. But how does it stack up? Let’s take a look…
Even on the Myriad repackage, the title screen still says Caltron. The Cave Story-esque title music is pretty bitchin' though.
The cart starts off with a pretty generic title screen, and music that will stick in your head long after you’re done playing, the type of music that will instantly get any nostalgic NES fan’s attention, even if he’s never seen the game. You know NES music when you hear it… Anyway; your 6 choices are Cosmos Cop, Magic Carpet 1001, Balloon Monster, Adam and Eve, Porter, and Bookyman.
Space Har...Cosmos Cop is already better than anything on that shitstain released by Active Enterprises.
Cosmos Cop: Right off we get a proper title screen (a title screen inside a tile screen, like some kind of 1992 video game version of Inception or something). This is a clone of Space Harrier for the Master System. It’s a sort of behind the shoulder first/third person shooter. Your player looks like some kind of Transformer, and the playfield moves toward you, while you can move your ship (I’m going to call him a ship for typing convenience) in any direction (2D wise). All kinds of flying ships and saucers move towards you, firing shots that split off in 4 directions and cover a good portion of the screen, and then they bring in meteors too. It’s actually not too bad, though this game is a bit too advanced for the hardware it’s running on. Gotta give credit for ambition, I guess. A turbo controller really helps here, hold down the B button (B shoots your gun, A shoots some bombs that if they make contact will blow up anything near them, you get 20 bombs per stage and unlimited gun fire) and just try to avoid all the enemy’s shots. What’s really unique about this is that you only get 2 lives. I’ve never seen an NES game, or any game for that matter, where it’s game over after 2 lives.
No shortage of crazy shit flying at you in this one!
Magic Carpet 1001: A Gradius/R-Type style shooter, only instead of being a ship flying through space, you’re a kid with a turban on a magic carpet in a desert shooting a bow-and-arrow. Damn, that’s kind of racist. Anyway, it’s easily the best game one the cart, and wouldn’t really be out of place as a stand-alone cart. Unlike Gradius and R-Type, there’s very few power-ups, and that combined with the barrage of enemies makes this game HARD, but in a good way. Again, this is taxing the hardware, often times there are way too many sprites on screen than the NES can handle, with quite a bit a slowdown and flickering. The slowdown will help though, believe me. This is the only game (SPOILER ALERT!) that isn’t a blatant clone.
Blowing more Bubbles than MJ! What fuckers? Too soon?
Balloon Monster: From best to worst, this is a clone of Buster Bros. Idea is that you’re a kid (not a chipmunk, as the box art will tell you) with a shotgun. A big bubble (not a balloon) falls from the top of the room, and you gotta shoot it. Every time you shoot a bubble it breaks up into 4 smaller pieces, and the pieces start bouncing on the floor. The bubbles you’re not shooting bounce lower and lower until they’re rolling into you and killing you (you can only shoot upwards, not to the sides). It’s pretty much unplayable, a bad concept with ass controls. It’s still better than every game on Action 52 put together.
Ah, my folks used to always tell me the tale of Adam, Eve, and snakes with...balloons
Adam and Eve: This is a clone of Balloon Fight, which itself is a clone of Joust. Yep, it’s a clone of a clone. Basic premise is that you’re a little kid with a balloon strapped to him, and you have to float up and land on top of some floating snakes (also with balloons) twice to kill them, though the snakes look more like the Berkley Power Bait scented fake worms that you’ll find at any tackle shop. If a snake lands on you, or you hit the points of the bamboo-like structure that makes up the stages your balloon gets smaller. 3 hits and you’re dead, but there’s yellow balloons that float around that when landed on cough out what I’m guessing is helium tanks, land on those to make the balloon bigger, thereby recovering lost health. The yellow balloons also spit out apples that give you points. The controls suck, and the “snakes” tend to hang out at the top of the screen, making this a lot harder and more time consuming than it really should be.
Porter must be the sound Lolo makes when he cops a squat.
Porter: A puzzle game, where you have to put boxes into squares marked with an “X”. This is also a clone, though the name of the game they’re ripping off escapes me at the moment. Pretty hard because you can only push the blocks (by holding A), not pull them. Comes with a handy self-destruct button if you fuck up, but the programmers fucked up by putting it on the B button, instead of Select or some other place you won’t constantly hit it by accident. That’s about it. Oh, the graphics suck, especially by 1992 standards.
If the game didn't resemble feces already, welcome to a game slathered in fiberous brown!
Bookyman: What the fuck kind of title is that? This is a pretty much direct copy of the old Williams arcade game Make Trax. Only here you’re a beetle. You have to cover the entire maze while avoiding the enemies. It’s sort of like Pac-Man, I guess. There’s some comb looking things on every stage, and if you hit them they shoot you up the path and kill any enemy in your way. It’s a bit harder than the old arcade game, but otherwise it’s pretty faithful to the original. For some reason you get 9 lives. What is with this cart? It’s was pretty much accepted at this point that you get 3 lives in a video game (a precedent established a long, long, long time ago by fucking pinball games in the 70’s), but here you get 9 for this game, 2 for Cosmos Cop, 5 for Magic Carpet 1001 and Balloon Monster… Makes no sense…
If you find this in your garage, do ALOT of fucking. You now can afford children and college. Fuck away!
Overall Score: 5/10. Had this game been released in 1987 or so, we probably would have called it “the shit”, had that expression existed at the time. But it came out in 1992. The SNES came out in 1990, the Genesis was 4 years old by this point. Shit, the PlayStation was only 2 years away. Even so, Magic Carpet 1001 alone is better than half of the NES games, and 2 other not-horrible games on the same cart means that this game doesn’t deserve the reputation it gets. On the scale of unlicensed garbage (defining “unlicensed garbage” as any non NOA-approved game not made by Tengen or Codemasters) it gets a 9/10. Chiller and Krazy Kreatures might be better than this, but it’s better than anything else made by AVE or AGC, and totally blows away any of the trash made by Color Dreams/Wisdom Tree or Sachen. I just chose a random unlicensed game hoping I could shit all over it with lots of f-bombs (still got plenty of those in) and what not. Seems I picked the wrong one… Maybe next time, there’s always Wally Bear and the NO! Gang.
*sniff sniff* I can smell it from here!
(Everyone give it up to guest reviewer A.C. Sativa for a killer review! I sincerely look forward to seeing more from him. I was going to refrain from any credit but it would kill me if he got blamed in case the picture captions sucked, so those were done by me. Again, big ups for knocking it out of the park on this one because if you didn't, I was going to ban your IP from my site forever and link you to a goat-fetish site everytime you tried. All kidding aside, awesome shit! Anyone else want a crack? Email me email@example.com)