Tuesday, December 25, 2012

NPC - A.C.Sativa - Chiller/Baby Boomer & BONUS!

It's time for the review that's always packin' heat (Down where? Down HERE!), the Unlicensed NES Zapper Games!

I'd NEED drugs to witness this scene first-hand. P.S. Yes, I beat this piece of whale nut.

Before I even get started, there's one thing I'm kicking myself over leaving out of the Wally Bear review: There was actually a number you could call that would let you hear about the evils of drugs. 1-800-HI-WALLY. "So what?" you're probably thinking... Well, this number was active until... wait for it... October of 2007! I'm not the first person to review the game and miss that, but I feel REALLY stupid about it, having done tons of research on the game, even calling the number (it's just a busy signal now), and still leaving it out of the review. No matter how many times you proofread something, as soon as it gets online, you just say "Fuck!" 

Break yo'self!

Back to serious business, Mike asked for Chiller, and markusman64ds from the Digital Press forum asked for Baby Boomer, and I figured that since they are the only 2 unlicensed Zapper games I'd just do them together. Plus, markusman gave me the idea that will end this piece, and will hopefully be a regular thing.

"Mommy, what the fuck's an emulator?"

I just want to point out something here real quick: I'm playing these games on Nestopia, by far and away the best NES emulator out there, using the "point-and-shoot" with the mouse instead of the actual Zapper. Even if I had copies of the games, I don't own a TV that works with my Zapper. It's just sitting in a box in my garage thinking "Fuck these new TVs, I still work (Tested him on my buddy's antiquated CRT TV when I bought him), they're the ones that suck…" Mr. Zapper might be lonely, but at least he can say he hasn't totally fucked up his life on coke and heroin like the rest of the 80's child stars. TMZ can suck his dick!

(Chiller, 1990, American Game Cartridges)

CHILLER: As we saw in the Wally Bear review, this was a ported Exidgy arcade game from 1986, released in 1990 for the NES. The arcade game didn't do very well in the U.S., and for good reason. It's without a doubt the most fucked up sadistic violent video game ever, outside of garbage like Super Columbine RPG and that horrible Virginia Tech game, both of which were free-to-download PC games that were created just to piss people off, and hang a digital sign around their creator’s necks saying “I’m a complete piece of shit”. Chiller was created to make money, and when arcade owners saw a game that let people use a gun to blow people away limb by limb and shoot devices like racks and guillotines to torture people they wisely passed. I’m a firm believer in the “If you’re offended, don’t buy it” school of thought, but if I was a parent in 1986 and saw Chiller in my local arcade right next to a few pinball machines, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and the rest of the kid-friendly fare I’d be pissed off about it. Shit, imagine playing this in a bar, and then trying to by one of the cute women a drink…Did Mace exist back then? (Yep, sure did). The NES game is pretty faithful to the original, outside of the fact that the levels are reversed (the last level in the arcade version opens the NES version), and some very slight censorship. Almost reverse censorship actually, on the first level (last in the arcade) it was changed from a monk pushing a cart full of body parts to a nun pushing a baby carriage.
The fuck? That’s supposed to be better?

Oh dear, what the COCKSNOT is going on here?

So how does it play? Pretty well, actually. You don’t need a Zapper to play, you can just use a controller, though anyone who has played Lethal Enforcers on the Genesis without the light gun knows how bad that sucks. It’s also a 2 player game, be it 2 Zappers, 2 pads, or one of each. 2 player mode is where this game gets fun. Playing by yourself is boring, but seeing who can get the best score between whoever you’ve sucked into seeing “Saw: The Game” is the way to go, turning it into a social thing instead of a training program to be a future subject of an episode of Criminal Minds. AJ Cook, if you’re reading this, e-mail me! The game plays on one screen at a time with a bunch of shit to shoot, you start off with 15 targets to hit and a bar draining as time passes. If the bar runs out before you get the targets it’s game over. The game is not really about hitting moving objects, but finding what to shoot at, which makes it perfect for the “click-and-shoot” method I’m playing it. The first 2 levels are pretty tame. Level 1 is a graveyard with a bunch of heads on spikes and a half-buried body to shoot off piece by piece, and some hands coming out of the ground, and the aforementioned nun. Level 2 is just a hallway with some ghosts going side to side that you gotta blast. Its levels 3 and 4 (the torture chambers) where it gets really fucked up, with people tied up in racks and other medieval shit, that when shot give you points for ripping their legs off or decapitating them, and then you get points for blowing off what’s left of the individual parts of their bodies one by one. Beat level 4 and you’re back at the start, Donley Kong style, with the shot count upped to 25 Every level has “talismans” that if you hit them all on every level unlocks a bat-shooting bonus stage when you finish level 4. I really can’t describe this horrible shit in words, but it would be totally over the top for a 360/PS3 game, much less a NES game. Seriously, this is some fucked up repugnant shit, and would instantly get the dreaded AO rating if they tried to release it today.

...and people said Sweet Home was fucked up?

OVERALL SCORE: 6/10. Unlike most of the shit I’m going to review here, this is more than playable, and that’s what really matters. If I were to do a list of “Top 10 Unlicensed NES games”; this would be, at worst, the last one to miss the cut. And 2 player mode is pretty fun. BUT, if you really want to play this I’d recommend seeking out the Maxi-15 multicart instead of Chiller. They’re both rare as hell to the tune of about $150, but Maxi-15 has Chiller AND 14 other shitty games.

(Baby Boomer, 1989, Color Dreams)

Baby Boomer: Quick and easy here: It sucks donkey dick, at least from where I’m sitting. Point here is that you have to shoot a bunch of shit that’s in the way of a scrolling baby. My problem with the game is that the “Gun” is REALLY inaccurate, with shots that are clearly hitting the target counting as misses, killing this game right out of the starting gate. On one hand, it might be an emulator problem, though the “Zapper” was working fine for Chiller, Duck Hunt, and everything else I tried it on. On the other hand, this is a Color Dreams game, leading me to believe it just sucks. (I’ll get to that awful company in the next review. Suffice to say, Color Dreams is the reason that you’re seeing “A.C. Sativa” v. “Unlicensed Garbage” on this site). So it very well might just be horrible…

If you think this game is any more than what you see here, you'd be very mistaken.

OVERALL SCORE: 2/10. Kind of call this one incomplete, though I find it hard to believe that this could be anything but total shit, given the people involved with the cart’s production.

Don't shoot the...wait, what???

Ahh, pirate NES games, the real cream of the crop of total shit. It should be said here that Mike is doing every NOA-approved NES game, and I get everything else. But even I have my limits. “Unlicensed Games” refers to these games: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nes_games#Unlicensed_games. Not the 110/64-in-1’s, not the Sachen “If Vince Russo booked the NES” games, none of that “Sonic on the NES” shit, and none of this garbage. Why markusman asked for this game, I’ll never know know, and I won’t ask, because when you say “Got any unlicensed crap you want me to take a shot at? Let me know…”, you gotta make good on your word, and just be happy that someone likes your writing enough to bother… So from here on in, there should be a BONUS PIRATE GAME REVIEW! I need a shower, I fucking feel dirty even going this far…

Oh A.C., you had balls of titanium to try this one.

For those who weren’t around during the NES days, it’s not like it is today. Back then you could take trademarked characters that you didn’t have the rights to, and use an Atari ST or a Commodore 64 and actually make video games and sell them. Well, not really sell them here in the U.S. (though pirate games and Hong Kong multicarts did make it stateside in the blackest of black markets. As in you got a 64-in-1 cart with every ounce of weed you bought back then), but they sold like crazy in the Far East, and did really well in South America too.

Tom looks more like one of the Rockin' Kats
OVERALL SCORE: 0.5/10. Oh yeah, the game itself? Best thing I can say about it is that it’s not as bad as Action 52. But it’s damn close. Jerry Mouse actually looks like his TV counterpart, and as a huge fan of the TV show that made me smile. Worst thing I can say is that it sucks worse than all the Sachen games put together, and the graphics are barely Atari 7800 quality. It’s almost a rip off of the licensed T&J games, only with the controls shot to hell and the usual “let’s try to do Mega Drive graphics on the Famicom” nastiness that defines the HK bootlegs. Just awful, and a disgrace to the NES.

Well, I'll be a warthog's nutsack, this game had an ending!

NEXT TIME: Bible Games, and what might be the only game worse than Action 52 featured in the BPGR!. After that: one of the BEST unlicensed NES games, and the only pirate game that’s any good. Let me know what’s next in the comments…

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Beyond The Controller - She Devil of Ladies 2 Die 4

Welcome to the third installment of "Beyond The Controller". Thanks to Retrogamergirls and Dylan of Questicle for braving the storm so far. Today, I step outside the box a bit and move away from the retro and into the current gen. Let's gather around the campfire kiddies, as today's guest is a member of one of the gnarliest clans around (male or female), everyone give a warm welcome to She Devil of Ladies 2 Die 4!

Welcome to NESquester's own virtual interview couch. Hope the coffee is still warm and the chairs are comfy enough so let's dig right in! First off, today we welcome She Devil of the L2D4 (Ladies 2 Die 4) crew. This is probably as different for me as it is for you as I normally interview retro gamers and people more around my "zone" and you're normally slaughtering everyone who crosses your path at whatever game you are playing. That being said, you ladies piqued my interest as a tight-knit group who has rankings and a chain of command. So naturally my first questions are what is L2D4 about and how long have you been with the clan?

Basically, Ladies 2 Die 4 is an all-female clan pretty much born out of the camaraderie we women have for each other in a male-dominated market. Our mission is to provide a fun and positive drama-free environment to other female gamers while maintaining competitiveness, fairness, and respect online. I, personally, have been with L2D4 since early April of 2012 and am currently a Sergeant.

Are there any of the L2D4 set whose gaming prowess you envy? I read #TheOriginalPSP's bio and found out that he beat Mike Tyson's Punch-Out without getting hit one single time and would never challenge him to a one-on-one. Anyone stand out that way in your opinion?

Most of the L2D4 specialize in FPS, mainly Call of Duty. I think if there was one I had to pick to not mess with, it’d be Queenie and her sniper rifles. I’d hate to be on the other end of her scope. Seriously!

What was your first console and your earliest memories of it?

I have two older brothers, one of which who had an NES but I was pretty young when that was our household console. Since there were 3 of us, we actually had an array of consoles from Nintendo, Sega, and Sony. The Super Nintendo was probably my earliest. I remember Yoshi’s Island and my mom jacking it to play Zelda. My Playstation was my favorite “early” console though to be honest.

I've noticed that you play a little like me in that if we're deepcore into a game, it is either 1000/1000GP or bust. The acheivement I'm proudest of would probably be beating Bioshock on hard. What is an achievement you're most proud of and one that was the most difficult to obtain?

I think I’m most proud of my pre-DLC 1000GP of Skyrim because it was my first close out. I wasn’t always interested in mass amounts of achievements. I liked to play through games and that was it. I was really close with Assassin’s Creed (1) but I had beat it on 3 different accounts before I got to mine and just wasn’t in the mood anymore. The most difficult I’d have to say, without a doubt, was Borderlands because of the Robolution DLC where you have to collect an unnecessary amount of ultra-rare drops. It took me 6 straight hours of farming for just ONE of the three achievements for it. It was such a pain in the ass haha, but I showed those ‘chievos who’s boss..

I've also noticed you play alot of shooters like Borderlands 2 and Halo 4 and at the same time bring up certain accessories for your controllers and what not. Would you care to share what you're currently using and how they help your gaming? 

That’s right, I’m a long time FPS enthusiast. I started playing them back around Halo and CS on original Xbox. A lot has changed, including “high performance accessories” for your controller. I was super skeptical because it sounds like a scam, I know, but I could not go back to a normal controller after what I’ve got now. Currently I’m using Grip iTs and Kontrol Freeks (one on each analog stick) Basically Kontrol Freeks are made to improve your accuracy by allowing you to move your analog stick beyond where your controller hinders it. Grip iTs improve the grip which overall improves your control. I’ve also got a pair of Squid Grips on my controller which changes the ergonomics of your paddle to not only be more comfortable, but it absorbs the moisture from your palms which is a big annoyance during long gaming marathons and serious situations.

Back to the clan a bit, you ladies have members from the United States, Canada, and even England. Do you ever get the chance to meet up say, annually or is it strictly an online type of family?

I know that last year (before I joined) most of the clan and our brother clan met up at PAX East, and a few even went to PAX Prime, as well as a few MLG events previous to that. This year we’re hoping to again meet up at PAX East, but I’m not sure about our overseas friends. Travel is so expensive these days, it’d be a serious investment for some of them.

I really dug your Borderlands 2 videos and found others on your YouTube channel informative and well-thought out. Are there plans to bring back some videos or is it a thing that happens in spurts between major releases?

I’m actually a seriously lazy YouTuber. I put out a video every few months but mainly it’s for the informational demographic and not just to do something everyone has done a hundred times. So if I find that there are 30 videos on how to do something, I’ll just leave that alone and keep moving on until I find something worth making. It’s the same idea with my commentaries too. I try to keep my personal life separate so that doesn’t leave me a lot to blabber about for 8+ minutes per video. (Honestly though, I’m really just too lazy to do more stuff more often haha)

I'd be remiss in not mentioning the fantastic job you did with the Harley Quinn makeup tutorial. Not that I'd give it a whirl myself but if there was an L2D4 contest with those tutorials some of you did, I'd personally say you won, rad music and all. Do you have any experience in those types of things? i.e. theater, plays, etc?

Surprisingly, no. I originally wasn’t going to do a make-up video but I had been obsessively watching my boyfriend play Arkham City and I’ve always been a Harley fan. Luckily she’s pretty easy as far as difficulty goes. She’s more tedious than anything. The music is Elena Siegman’s AbraCadavre which was a killer easter egg in Black Ops zombies. It really set the mood sometimes and I thought it was a perfect fit for Harley.

What does She Devil do when she isn't destroying gamer egos and getting a kill per calorie I take in for the day? What are your other intrests and hobbies?

Haha, this is pretty awkward but I’m a big fan of girly…ness? I’ve always been a tomboy so the more I age the more I wish I could do things that take patience and finesse. I love DIY crafts and baking. Boy I love baking. Other than that though, I really just like to game. If I’m not working I prefer to game game game. I make time for my little vices like reading and pounding pots of coffee but ultimately I’m a hermit and not very exciting in my personal life.

Lastly, what advice would you give to any other gamers out there and is there anything you'd like to plug or advertise?

If I had to give another gamer advice I’d just say broaden your horizons to as many games as possible. Enjoy the vast worlds before you and don’t limit yourself to one franchise. You’ll be missing out on so much!
As far as plugs, obviously head over to the Ladies 2 Die 4 Fan Page and give us a like. We need all the support we can get! Check out my YT if you’re bored (links below) and just a big thank you to all of our sponsors for making our gaming experience great! (GripIts, Mionix, InToro Skins, Acoustic PC, CompuExpert Direct, Sharkoon, Zalman, GoGamer.com, Rage Gage, Nobis, Brand Computers, and Gathering Gamers)

Huge thanks to She Devil for participating and giving one tremendous interview that if anything, shows that I made the right choice when she was the one I asked for the interview. Insightful, entertaining, funny, and most of all approachable, She Devil and the rest of the L2D4 are very real, very passionate gamers and if you get your feelings hurt by being destroyed by these ladies in a game out there, don't be a jerk, appreciate the time and skill they have and cut the gender specific crap. Male or female, female or male, L2D4 is for real.

Yup, she's female. She's a gamer. And she can KICK. YOUR. ASS. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

NESquest #36 - Gradius

(Gradius, December 1986, Konami)

HELL TO THE FUCK YEAH! A genre I've been anxiously awaiting to reach like a kid on Christmas morning, the space shooter. No, Action 52 doesn't count as even being a game so don't even try that shit. Today's title also holds the distinction of being the very first to utilize the most famous game cheat in history, Let's take a look at Konami's NES cherry being popped before our very eyes with Gradius.

Even if you don't know your own parent's birthdays, you KNOW "The Code"

First, a gander at Konami and how they came to become one of the most recognizable gaming companies in the world. Founded in 1973 as a jukebox rental company of all things, Konami (a portmanteau of founders, Kagemasa KOzuki, Yoshinobu NAkama, and Tatsuo MIyasako) began creating what they labeled "amusement machines". Initially one of the slowest developers in recorded history, it took 5 years for their first games to release. Wih their 1981 classic Frogger, Konami's years of experience and growing confidence started to show at a blistering pace with many memorable titles being cranked out such as Super Cobra, Gyruss, Track & Field, and Rush N' Attack among others. I cannot tell a lie, I am chomping at the bits to poke tons o' fun at Gyruss for how many waves it takes to Uranus but that will come in due time. In 1985, they developed a shooter so frantic that balls to the wall cannot describe it. Dicks to the bricks would be far more apropos. The game was given the name Nemesis and when ported to our good friend, Mr. NES, it decided that after it's divorce from the arcades that it would legally change it's name to Gradius. Konami still has their hands in just about everything from casinos, toys, and anime with a revenue of over three billion dollars so I think they are doing just peachy since their humble beginnings. As with my earlier Capcom reviews, I will delve more into "The Code" during a time when a Konami game doesn't contain as deep an origin.

Power-up enough and you can get some SERIOUS firepower happening.

In this first title of the long-running series, you play the role of an unnamed pilot behind the controls of a spaceship named the Vic Viper. I'm personally torn whether that is the dumbest name for a ship or the most bitchingest. The Vic, as I shall name it henceforth, is tasked with destroying waves of enemies before they can attack the pilot's home planet of Gradius. At the start, a pathetic little pea shooter is given and Vic moves like it is on quaaludes but send enough of certain types of enemies to hell and powerful add-ons will be dispersed. What makes Gradius badass is that you can customize how you make Vic stronger. Want to throw everything you get into speed making Vic rival that forsaken blue hedgehog? No problem! Prefer missiles to lasers and only have the power-ups for one? Then have a blast shitting bombs all across deep space! It presents the aura of strategy that the other shooters at the time were lacking as with time you slowly grasp what weaponry you'll need to unleash in what situation. 

If you see these fuckers and you have no extras to shoot them with, the game is pretty much over. You'll have an easier time getting Ellen DeGeneres to participate in a bukkake video.

Comprised of seven of the most unforgiving levels this side of Axelay, Gradius is one tough mammajamma. Volcanos will spit out boulders while a wave of ships is screaming towards you on your right and mobile cannons are peppering the screen with fire on your left. In short, this game does not fuck around for even a second. As previously stated ladies and germs, dicks to the bricks. If you make it past the deceptively simple first few levels, just wait awhile and the Easter Island heads pop up out of nowhere and just simply make life untolerable. Of course, you have "The Code" at your disposal if you want to breeze by. I had this game when I was younger and thought it was defective as I damned near sprained my thumb trying to get "The Code" to work to no avail. My mistake was thinking you had to input it at the title screen like Contra, not while it was paused. In short, I had to beat this beastly fatherfucker legit so any of you that questioned my Silver Surfer victory awhile back that I made a hoop-la about, as hard as that was, it isn't as bad as Gradius. Take it from someone who has been there. What is more difficult for me to fathom is that the arcade version is even harder, with less power-ups and an extra button you had to press when you wished to fire missiles. 

Man, Mother Brain sure gets around doesn't she?

Now onto the chili of the dog, the presentation. The titles that the NES offered to this point (with the exception of Metroid) have been fairly vibrant, colorful little numbers. Of course, that wouldn't do for a space shooter so it starts dark and stays dark. The ships are bright and far easier to see so there isn't the issue of 1942 where you're trying to shoot green planes down against a massive green backdrop. Black spaceships barrelling towards you in deep space would no doubt release that fateful "FUCK THIS SHIT" hormone back into any logical brain. What I dig the most is the claustrophobia that you'll encounter at times where the shit gets even more frantic. One moment, Vic is tearing it up in open space, free to maneuver the whole of the screen, and the next the walls start to close in where your freedom is taken away and it's blast your way out or die trying. There isn't much in the way of cheap death either as the controls are tighter than an asshole introduced to freezing water. The sound was a pleasant suprise as this was the first instance where the tunes the NES provided were superior to the arcade. The song selection isn't very large but the few present tunes more than sufficed and the sound effects didn't make me want to claw out my inner ear. My only real gripe would be the boss battles. One one hand, it was basically the same boss at the end of each level and on the other, I gave Super Mario Bros a 10/10 and it also had the same endstage boss. Perhaps it is because of the genre that the same showdowns felt more like one gigantic level than seven smaller ones. The final boss, once you figure out to get the fuck past the indestructible wall as quick as possible, is a joke. What was with Konami's hard-on for featuring enormous human organs as the final boss in their games anyway? 

FINALLY! Someone used the proper grammar at the end of an 80s NES game!

9/10 Gradius set the bar for epic space shooters that wasn't matched for years. The setting feels alien and otherworldly, the sounds kick the piss out of the arcade version, and the challenge keeps you coming back to see if you can make it just that much further. Today, it is a great time killer and a way to temper yourself before playing any other shooter you may deem as difficult. In 1986, it was just about as perfect as you could get.

See if you can figure out how to rack up massive points at this spot like I did.

Unlike other popular Konami franchises, the Gradius legacy still lives on. If it has ever been your desire to run into a series sequel structure more confusing than the Legend of Zelda series, look no further. Gradius actually had a Gradius 2 AND a Gradius II that were different games! Enjoy wrapping your head around over a dozen sequels, spin-offs, and ports, not the least of which is a Nintendo title that I will ruin things for now by saying that when its time comes in the Quest, it gets an easy 10. Don't spoil it fuckers....

....I'll drop a tiny hint myself

Friday, December 7, 2012

NESquest #35 - Karate Champ

(Karate Champ, November 1986, Data East)

The fighting game genre didn't explode until around 1991, when the first of a gazillion incarnations of Street Fighter II was released. Everything before that fucking blew baboon smegma. An attempt at a fighting game Urban Champion was one of the worst of the original Black Box offerings. There wasn't another fighting game for the NES until today's little piece of curious crap, Karate Champ. If you're in the mood for the good old fashioned NESquester vitriol, strap the fuck in kiddies!

Kinda reminds me of the Sweet Factory in Mother 1. Too obscure?

Brought to life in 1984 by Technos but published by Data East, Karate Champ ("The Way Of The Empty Hand" overseas) was one of the earliest examples of the fighting genre. It truly was an ambitious and inspired arcade game that utilized two joysticks in a deep moveset very unlike Urban Champion's punch-punch-punch bullshit. Other innovations included multiple bonus stages, 12-plus stage backgrounds, and, with the release of Karate Champ: Player Vs Player edition, an actual 2 player fighting game. It was a difficult game to master and required perseverance and a total memorization of the game's moves to even attempt basic survival. As a young 'Quester, I hated this game because one quarter was usually wasted within seconds of hearing the earliest digitized voice I can recall bellow out "RED!"

If this was what the NES controls were trying to pull off, kudos!

Well, now that the history lesson is done, let's open a can of pure unadulterated, seething hatred. Ported to the Nintendo in 1986, many problems were apparent within two seconds of playthrough. One, the NES didn't have two joysticks or two anythings that could be used in the manner of the arcade cabinet. Two, all but one of the bonus stages were cut. Anyone who ever stopped the bull with their bare hands had to be pissed to high hell when all we got on the NES was dodging flower pots that looked like bleeding dicks. This version is closer to the Player Vs Player edition than the original port, but it doesn't really mean a shit because skill has NO bearing on the outcome of this game. There are two karate participants, one in a white gi, a-la-Ryu, and the other in a red gi, a-la-Ken. The first to score two points via direct hit wins the round and two rounds wins the game. Sounds easy enough, but the game will sometimes give you half points. To this day I have no fucking idea what the difference is between that and a regular hit. Music is non-existent. The only time you'll hear anything close to it is the title screen and when a round is over and you do kind of a goofy dance unbefitting a student of the arts.


The worst part without a shadow of a doubt is the controls. We're talking Action 52 levels here folks. When your opponent gets behind you it is an exercise in futility to try and turn around, and the game becomes one of my least favorite types of game, the illogical button masher. Hit detection is even worse. Your fist will plain as day make contact or a foot will firmly meet face and Mr-Terminator-In-A-Red-Gi will shrug it off and separate you from your senses in no time. When the game is a total bitch but possible to beat, such as the first Samurai Shodown, I embrace that challenge. When the game will find anyway it can to fuck you, the fun factor goes right out the door. And when I say Karate Champ fucks you, we're talking bloody ass, no lube, not even a spit shine, it's THAT raw towards the player. I could almost hear a few people unsubscribing the moment I typed that. You'll be missed.

OK, a background or two is pretty rad, but it's like Susan Boyle wearing expensive clothing.

The only bright spot here are the graphics. The stages are wonderfully vibrant and really give off an oriental feel. The black tree sunset in particular stands out to me as a simple yet gorgeous setting for two warriors to battle for the glory. The sprites for the fighters are a good size for the time, and who doesn't love the referee? These days for ten bucks, you could probably purchase DLC that makes him a playable fighter. The graphics are so nice at times, it makes the useless waste of silicon this game actually is that much more painful.

You REALLY have to blow this pic up to discern that these are flower pots. Try it.

3/10 Some ports capture the spirit of the original and others fall flat on their asses never to recover. Karate Champ is definitely of the flattened ass variety. The nice graphics saved it from a lower score but the broken hit detection, impossible controls, and an overall lacking of the fun in the arcade version drag it towards such company as Gumshoe and Baseball. One could say that it would've been better if they came out with a peripheral for it that gave the two joysticks, but they didn't, so fuck 'em.

These 7 seconds will be far more rewarding and entertaining than ever trying to master Karate Champ. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Beyond The Controller - Dylan C, Founder of Questicle

Welcome to the long awaited second installment of "Beyond The Controller". Thanks a ton for the support given to the interview with the Retro Gamer Girls and a huge thank you to them for being brave enough to test the waters. 

Today, hoo boy cats and kittens, do I have a special treat for you! In the retro gaming community, I have many peers whose work I have the utmost respect for. This installment, we're going to talk to a like minded soul I personally look up to and aspire to one day have a fraction of the talent I believe he owns. The founder of Questicle: The Quest To Review Every NES Game, I couldn't be happier to welcome a man I am proud to call a friend, everyone meet Dylan C.

First off, thanks a ton for doing this, I know you're a busy beaver these days. My opening salvo if you will, when was Questicle founded and what made you decide to embark on such a daunting task?

My pleasure, Mike. Questicle started in July of 2010. At the time, I wanted a writing project that would be fun, and that would force me to write every day or every other day. I've always been a fan of critical reviews and Nintendo games, and I love cataloguing and organizing. Reviewing every NES game in alphabetical order seemed like such a fun, borderline-OCD idea that suited me well. It's been a bumpy ride, but I've enjoyed the majority of it.

What was your first exposure to the NES an were you hooked from the get go or did it take your later years to come around to the passion you so obviously have for our little grey buddy?

My dad came home one afternoon with the NES Action Set – the one with the Zapper, two controllers, and the SMB/Duck Hunt cartridge. I was about four and I don't think it was my birthday or anything; just a random gift that would start me on the path of gaming. After that, I was hooked.

I certainly can relate to that! Being over halfway done with your quest, do you have any plans following a much needed vacation when all is said and done? I often get asked if I will magically transform into SNESquester when I'm done but I'm years off the mark myself. I've always made it a point to call you "The One" as you are so far ahead of the pack it isn't funny. Any future plans for Questicle?

Well, right now, I'd just like to get the site looking a little better. I'm frustrated that I've come so far, number-wise, and don't have a separate page with links to all of the reviews. So the next couple of months is going to be a mix of reviews and overhauling the site. After I finish with all the reviews, I'm going to buy a nice cigar, sit on my porch, and smoke it. I do believe a break is in order after I'm done, but I'm not going to let the site languish. Questicle.net will continue on, and perhaps in the future, take other forms.

Weird question I need to ask. What are your thoughts when you hear of someone else taking on a similar quest such as Eric Bailey, Nintendo Complete, Chrontendo, and that NESquester fellow? Does a part of you go "Copycats!" or do you usually accept things with an open mind? 

Actually, I'm pretty sure I'm the copycat out of some of those people you listed! Eric's been doing this longer than I have with NintendoLegend, as has Chrontendo. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a competitive spirit in me. I'm a guy, that's how must of us are hardwired. I think we all have our own style to offer, though. My writing style doesn't appeal to everyone, nor does Eric's writing style or yours. We all have our own unique audience to reach. As long as we stay true to our respective voices, we'll be fine.

Reaching out to you was one of the smartest ideas I ever had. You could've blown me off like a few others  but we started discussing games and bouncing things off of each other to where now we have a pretty awesome rapport in my opinion (agreed). Do you have anyone else in the community you are friends with that could use a mention? 

Sure, I'd like to mention Jesse of RetroRevelations.com. He's a really cool guy, with a very unique and well-varied site, as far as content goes. Anyone who revels in nostalgia should go there. We already mentioned Eric Bailey of NintendoLegend. He was one of the first people in the retro gaming community to reach out to me. Also, TomBadGuy of Tombadguy.com is hilarious and supportive. Now that I have a Twitter, I'm discovering the retro community is enormous, so I look forward to meeting some new folks.

Oh, Jesse is certainly one I plan to hit up for an interview very soon. Intresting guy. Back to our friendship for a brief moment, there couldn't possibly be two more different people who live two completely different lifestyles. I'm slightly more public with my life and the things I do that many may not agree with, but you're a little more private. I won't dig too hard here but what do you enjoy doing when you're not gaming and writing the reviews?

Pretty typical stuff – hanging with the wife and cats, reading, hanging out with friends. Perhaps that's why I'm private: my life's too boring for most people to care about! I don't care, I enjoy it. It's simple and quiet.

Time for the ultimate cliche question! Can you think off-hand of any games during your quest you went in thinking nothing of and dragging feet to do it but found yourself a huge fan of afterwards? How about the flipside, anything you went in with high hopes and came out feeling like you just swam in a sewer?

A lot of the games start to blur together after awhile, so I'll try and stick to ones I've reviewed recently. Ninja Crusaders was one I expected absolutely nothing from, and it turned out to be a really fun, difficult platformer. Same with Nightshade, which sounded awful, but turned out to be a great adventure game. Thankfully, the reverse doesn't happen that often. A lot of the games I'm looking forward to playing are games I know are good, like the Mega Man series or Contra or whatever. I guess one example would be Mighty Final Fight. I had heard a lot of good things about it, but it didn't really do anything for me.

Lastly, is there any advice to any hungry upstart up there looking for any words of wisdom from a questing ninja such as yourself?

I'm not sure I'd recommend this particular path of reviewing every game in a system's library, at least not to most people. It sounds like a really fun idea at first – "Oh boy, I get to play a ton of games and write my opinions on them, yay!" - until you realize how much work goes into it. I'm not any better than any one else. I've wanted to quit several times, but I've always just taken it one day at a time. I'd give myself breaks when I needed them, and come back re-focused. If you really want to tackle an endeavor like this, make sure you enjoy it at least 80% or more of the time. Otherwise, it's not worth it.

And there you have it folks! Another edition of "Beyond The Controller" is a wrap! Don't be shy now, join the fun and drop me a line at nesquester@yahoo.com. As you can see, I keep it pretty clean and professional for these so if you're worried about the 'Quester asking you about your bowel movements and what not, have no fear! Big thanks to my brother from a lighter mother, Dylan C and PLEASE make sure to check out his blog as I made the font huge as heck for the link on purpose to really drive the point home. He's the hardest working cat out there and deserves to be twenty times as well-known as others in the field in my opinion. 'Til next time!

QUESTICLE - The Quest To Review Every NES Game

Sunday, December 2, 2012


       IS NOW PART OF 

      .........any questions?


Saturday, December 1, 2012

NESquest #34 - Commando

(Commando, November 1986, Capcom)

As a whole, the medium of video games can be responsible for one thing even if many of us are unaware of it and that is the suspension of disbelief. If faced with a swarm of highly trained soliders, could one Altair really take them all out with the fine tuned precision he is known for? That is just one example of hundreds as we all know that video games are an escape but sometimes, we trick ourselves into thinking a game is "realistic" when all it takes is a deep breath and a fraction of brain function to prove ourselves wrong. As a child of the 80's, nothing forced this suspension upon your senses like the good ol' Nintendo Entertainment System did. Case in point is today's title with one super solider's quest to simply blow alot of shit up while taking on an army the size of Australia's population for no apparent reason, Commando!

Did someone drop the ball on one hell of an obvious licensing coup? Methinks yes.

A very influential title that doesn't get it's due, Commando was one of the forefathers for the "run n' gun" genre of games that later spawned such inspired classics as Contra and Gun.Smoke. The gist of Commando is to take control of a solider who after being fucked with one too many times about being named "Super Joe", decides to show the his dicklick heckling comrades what's what. Armed with a machine gun that can apparently form an infinite amount bullets via his special mutant power, Joe is dropped off by a helicopter in the middle of a jungle to save a few hostages from an army of about 300,000. Now I know I normally give this section to game's history and backstory but this game legitimately has no backstory, so I'll roll with bitter nice guy who has been ridden WAY too hard and just wants  to get away from it all by watching fellow human craniums explode. From what I gather via the manual, Super Joe is dumped in the wild to rescue hostages and stop an army from taking over the world. That's it. God bless the 80's.

Sometimes, the game pulls a dick move, like spawning me directly in front of a deadly ditch. Wait...what?

The gameplay is frantic, balls-to-the-wall and most importantly, damned fine fun. Your hands never have time to steer from the controller for even a second or you're pushing up the daisies, which is great for this type of game. The action drives forward at a frenetic pace and more times than not, I had that awesome gamer feeling of panic as I blasted my way through jungle hell at its 8-bit finest. Super Joe's main weapon is akin to having the machine gun in Contra at all times, able to fire in all eight directions and lightning quick controls work wonders when you have bullets trying to seperate you from your senses at every passing moment. I sincerely heart games with a high level of control as when I died, it was usually due to poor judgment or paused for that tenth of a second that I should've been unleashing hell. Joe is also armed with a limited number of grenades which, unlike the trusty SMG, can only be thrown upwards and are tons trickier to get good aim with. More than once, I had the field cleared and my next targets dead in my sights and wound up lobbing a grenade clear over their heads. 

What in the name of the Blue Balls of Arthur happened here?

Levels are split up into a convienient 4 worlds with 4 blocks each. There are no real bosses present but each stage ends with a stream of baddies itching to paint their uniforms red with some perferated Super Joe organs. These sections are far easier than the levels personally because the screen stops and lets you gain your bearings for a moment. Throughout the levels, there are hostages clad in blue who by the magic of a touch, will be free to flee to safety holding a sign giving out bonus points. Again, SERIOUS suspension of disbelief was crucial in our era of gaming folks. If you are a freak at games of this nature like some, you'll enjoy the fact that there is no shortage of hidden bunkers and sewers to find. At one point, in the blink of an eye, I went from trading ammo with the unnamed evil army to finding myself in a room packed with pissed off snakes. I've been told there are glasses that Joe can find to reveal all the secret areas but sadly I never came across them. The graphics can be repetitive but for the most part, you're battling an army in a jungle so the color palette really isn't required to go apeshit is it? The music and effects are neither here or there except for a break in the music where it hits a tiny military style drum number that brings a smile to me everytime it tickles my eardrums. 

Seriously, how awesome would it be if you got a kill in Halo and instead of the death scene, your downed foe ran off-screen with a sign touting your kill count?

7/10 An ambitious title that feels grossly overlooked as one of the pioneers of the genre it helped to elevate. Hectic isn't the word at times and the degree of difficulty can be overwhelming if you're new to this type of fare. As with most of the merciless library of the NES, a little practice and figuring out the timing is the key here if making it to the Engrish section of the game is your final destination. Capcom = too cheap to hire proper translators until the 90's!

Nintendo never could make up their fucking minds on the smoking/religion policy could they?

While alot of gamers, myself included, thought Bionic Commando was a sequel, it was actually a 1991 title named MERCS though Super Joe himself makes cameos throughout the Bionic series. Another title, Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 was released on Xbox Arcade and PSN in 2008 to fair reviews. Turns out our Commando has an actual backstory as well! His real name is Joseph Gibson and his received his moniker by holding the rank of "SUPERvisor, Joint Operations Executive. Neat shit no?

Super Joe in the upcoming Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2. Looks more like Mike Haggar's non-roided up older brother

Wanna see one of the most awesome uses of Engrish ever? Feast your eyes upon the ending of Commando. Another notch in my hard motherfuckers beaten belt.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

NESquest #33 - Ghosts 'N Goblins

(Ghosts 'N Goblins, November 1986, Capcom)

I consider myself a firm believer that once a year, a crack team of sadistic programmers converge into one small room in Japan and collectively decide that they hate gamers passionately and wish to make them suffer. In 1986, this crew of evil, hell-bent geniuses crafted a game that today still haunts those steadfast in their resolve to conquer everything 8-bit. That game was Ghosts N' Goblins.

This was hands down one of the nicest looking cabinets at the time.

Thrust into the world to annihilate unsuspecting gamers around 1985, Ghosts N Goblins was one of Capcom's earliest franchises. For those of you who have possibly spent the last two decades living in an Amish community, Capcom is one of the largest, most revered game companies around whose portfolio includes such household names as Megaman, Street Fighter, and Resident Evil. As with most early arcade games not made by Nintendo, production notes are completely impossible to come by so let's take a brief peek at the founding of Capcom. 

"Everyone who thinks Cloud and Sephiroth have the gnarliest weaponry in gaming has never had THIS shoved up their ass! Spreads as it goes for that extra ouch!"

Founded in 1979 as I.R.M Corporation, coupled with its subsidiary Japan Capsule Computers, the two offices dedicated themselves to the creation of electronic games. Both companies merged to create Sambi Co Ltd in 1982 which was established as the now familiar Capcom one year later. Capcom is short for CAPsule COMputers, which, at the time, was how the company commonly referred to arcade cabinets. Their first offering was a decent little shooter named Vulgus in 1984 and within a year, Capcom was steadily becoming a rising star with their next few arcade offerings, the previously reviewed 1942, the soon to be reviewed Commando, and the merciless son of a goatfuck we take a look at today, Ghosts N Goblins. After porting 1942, Capcom wisely realized that consoles were going to hold a huge place in the future of gaming and never looked back. Now, if they would quit trying to shove hot pokers up gamer's asses these days by sticking tons of DLC on game discs that are already bought, they could probably become as beloved as they once were. Licensing out their top franchises to untested studios like RE: Racoon City and DmC probably didn't help their status in the recent public eye either but I digress.

The first part of the travel where your brain starts to release that "FUCK THIS SHIT" hormone that only certain games can trigger

So, we've ALL heard about how legendary the difficulty on this medieval rescue mission is. The cake is real ladies and germs, as this is as trying of a title as the early days could possibly fathom. Two hits, you're dead, get any weapon other than the knife, you're dead, stand there a second too long, dead, ponder a troubling spot too long without watching the timer, you're fucking dead. Ghosts N Goblins could've just as easily been titled "Watch This Funny Little Fucker Die 10,000 TImes" without any reservation. The elephant balls-toughness of the entire experience is well documented so what else does the game offer? To start, it is one of the most faithful ports ever produced as everything is EXACTLY in its place from the arcade version. Noone moves any slower or faster and the placement of just about every little nuance is presented in nice, vibrant 8-bit awesomeness. The stages are varied enough to keep things intresting but, trust me, unless you're staring down screenshots, you'll never have the time to fully appreciate how nice it looks for such an early title because you're constantly working on that whole not dying thing. Sound ranges from sufficient to some blips and squeals that become unforgivingly annoying at times. To be honest, sometimes the effects could become so grating to my soul that I'd try to haul ass out of an area only to quickly be transformed into a pile of picked clean bones. If this was the intent of the programmers, then they were genius beyond our understanding at the time. If it was by folly, fuck it, it still works. 

Seriously, he looked just a moment away from knowing if the carpet matched her very blue curtains.

The goal here is to have a little ginger knight with a hell of a beard named Arthur rescue the object of his desire, the aptly named Princess..uh..Prin Prin. Prin Prin is kidnapped by Satan himself at the beginning of the game right when some hardcore nookie was about to go down. Don't believe me, look at the screen and tell me Arthur wasn't about 5 seconds from insertion before that damned demon ran off with his slice of ye olde british pie. SO blue balled and rightly pissed the fuck off, Arthur hones his horniness into a rage-filled throwing arm and sets off through six impossible stages to reclaim his priceless cooter. Along the way, he encounters some serious shit like zombies (pre Resident Evil Capcom zombies!), trolls that take as many hits as a boss to kill, and even little versions of Firebrand that will drive the most hardened gamer bonkers. Was Super Meat Boy too easy for you? Dark Souls became your bitch within a few days? Mike Tyson never make it past the first round with you as Little Mac? Then play Ghosts N Goblins while hooked up to a heart and blood pressure monitor to see what we all mean. Stages end with a boss which could either be the "Unicorn" (looks more like a cross between WWF Tag Team Demolition and X-Men villain Wendigo), a dragon that is easier than most, or Satan himself. There are a few weapons at your disposal but if you aren't using the knife, you're wasting time. Speaking of time, the most unfair part of this bastard is the timer you are tasked with beating each level. There will be plenty of times that you'll run that bad boy out simply trying to think of ways to get past whatever puzzle lies ahead of our poor doomed knight. At least there are continues which helps if you have the patience to conquer this beast of burden but it can be like having infinite tries to lift a Mack Truck with your lower lip. Yeah, you can make attempts all day, everyday, but chances are slim and none on the acheivement being met. If you do make it to the ending credits, make sure and attempt human flight and time travel next because those are just as plausible to attain. Don't forget that this migraine inducer also has one of gaming's greatest pranks included as once you think you beat the game, it is revealed to be an illusion devised by Satan and you get to play the entire fothermucker over again. In other words, when you see the final bosses' first incarnation defeated, hide the razor blades kiddies.

This screen was responsible for 92% of gamer suicides in 1986.

8/10 A very ambitious title for its time. The multiple stages and animations were ahead of the curve and no matter if the difficulty was locked onto "Motherfucker!" (the order goes Easy, Normal, Hard, Broken Controller, Motherfucker!) it was fun to play and though people may gripe about it being harder than Grandpa Joe after his first Viagra, everyone knows it and everyone has played it, making it an instant classic. The only things that keep it from obtaining a higher score are the sounds and slow down from time to time which can mean cheap death in a game already stocked to the brim with them.

Funny how this little guy was such a bastard that he got his own series and retains a decent amount of popularity to this day. Isn't it strange how one minute Nintendo was all "NO RELIGIOUS STUFF WHATSOEVER" and the next we had Satan himself in a game and one of his sons, Firebrand, getting his own series?

Since then, Arthur has been no stranger to gaming as the franchise has spawned quite the library of games and spin-offs. Gargoyle's Quest follows Firebrand on his own missions and Maximo for the PS2 is set in the same world. The direct sequels are just as daunting to defeat as the rigid ardousness of the original became a staple of the franchise. Arthur and Firebrand also show up in Marvel vs Capcom 3 with an epic tribute to the first stage of the NES game as one of the backdrops. Anyone with a copy of that Ultimate Ghosts N Goblins for PSP, feel free to e-mail me!