6th-Gen, gaming, NES

Tokyochuchu on: Duck Tales Remastered

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Duck Tales on the NES was one of my favorite platform games of all time. It’s still a game that I go back to and play periodically. Thus, the remastered version was a huge deal for me and one of my most anticipated titles of 2013. That said, my love of the original is so fierce that I was also worried that it would soil my memories. After all, we all witnessed the dreadful mess that was the Turtles in Time: Reshelled game. However, my fears were quickly sidelined because Duck Tales Remastered is awesome! The graphics are unbelievably charming, the soundtrack is one of the best ever written (but then it always was) and the controls are tighter than the draw strings on Scrooge McDuck’s money purse.

Those fucking goats! They just don't quit!

Those fucking goats! They just don’t quit!

There are a lot of great new additions to the game, too. First up, there is the new story component. This is a lot of fun, especially as it’s voiced by the animation’s original cast. It’s just great to hear the likes of Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack and Gyro back in their full glory again! Then there are the reworked boss battles. The original game’s encounters were fun but incredibly simple. This time around, they all have more than one attack routine and come at you much harder. And they’re a lot more fun as a result. There are one or two minor problems that prevent this game from being perfect, however.

Boingboingboingboingboingboing... Love that sound.

Boingboingboingboingboingboing… Love that sound. Reminds me of being 10 years old!

First up is the new system of having to collect items that are strewn around the maps before you can proceed to the boss. I can see that it’s done to lengthen the overall playtime, but it also limits exploration. In the original, finding secrets and little hidden nooks and crannies was a real pleasure. But in this version, the game forces you to go to all of those places anyway and it’s not really exploring if you’re directly sent there on an errand, is it? Then there is the huge difficulty spike that represents the last section of the game. The final escape sequence really feels unbalanced compared to the rest of the game (expect to drop some serious lives on that sum’bitch).

Overall, however, Duck Tales Remastered is a gorgeous, funny and nostalgic old-school plaformer with high playability and charm galore. So… Justice has been done to a true classic, I would say. And bless me bagpipes for that!

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8-Bit, gaming, NES

Tokyochuchu on: Kickle Cubicle

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Does anyone remember the NES title Kickle Cubicle? Yes, that’s right; “Kickle Cubicle”. Sadly, it’s not a game about kicking people in the testicles. Nor is it about eating urinal cakes or busting up someone’s office space. Mores the shame. I’d definitely play that game! Imagine; you enter the busy corporate office, power up by eating filthy urinal cakes and then tear shit up like you were playing Rampage on crack whilst your turncoat co-workers fall to their knees and beg forgiveness for telling the boss about you called in sick last Friday to go to a barbeque at your mate’s house. YOU COMPLETE BASTARDS! Um… Let’s move on.

The simple graphics work splendidly in this game.

The simple graphics work splendidly in this game.

So what exactly is Kickle Cubicle, then? It is, in fact, a really great grid based, action-puzzle game. The title follows the titular Kickle as he tries to save the Magical Kingdom from eternal winter. He does this by solving (mostly) single-screen puzzles, collecting coin bags and defeating each world’s boss monster. Kickle’s arsenal is comprised of two elements; freezing enemies into blocks which can then be kicked and the ability to lay an ice stump that can halt said sliding blocks. The key is to freeze enemies and then kick their frozen asses into open water to create new land, thus expanding the grid and opening up new paths to the level-ending coin bags.

The game starts simple, with basic enemies and situations. Soon enough however, you must contend with foes that can kick your blocks back at you, invincible swines that you can only run away from as well as environmental obstacles such as springs, bumpers and windmills. In conjunction with a slowly tightening time limit, these quickly turn Kickle Cubicle into an intense head-scratcher where you have to put both your lateral thinking and reflexes into turbo mode.

Flinger lickin' good! Fry that chicken fuck!

This game is finger lickin’ good!

Another feather in Kickle Cubicle’s well-doffed cap is it’s simplicity. The game’s graphics are crisp, clean and uncluttered. It’s controls are extremely tight, easy to use and easy to understand. The difficulty is judged well; you never have anyone to blame for a death other than yourself. These factors combine to make it a game that has totally retained it’s charm. Kickle Cubicle is just as much fun to play now as it was when it was released. And there aren’t too many NES games that you can say that about these days… Oh alright, I lied. Yes there are. But hey, Kickle Cubicle belongs right up there among the best of them!

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8-Bit, gaming, NES

Tokyochuchu on: Kabuki Quantum Fighter

 

Does anyone remember the NES title Kabuki Quantum Fighter? No? Anyone?

First, let us examine the word Kabuki. What exactly is Kabuki? Well… Kabuki is a very traditional Japanese type of play. Actors and actresses dress up in maiko or geisha style and perform dances. Sometimes there are traditional puppets involved, which are controlled by ninja-looking shadowmen dudes. So Kabuki Quantum Fighter is surely a game about beating the shit out of traditional play actors and beatniks, right? Sadly no. But I would play that game in an instant! Stupid fuckin’ beatnik scum. But I digress…

Kabuki Quantum Fighter is a yet another 8-bit 2D action platformer. But it’s a really, really good one. It’s actually quite similar to the popular NES Batman title, both graphically and mechanically (although it does have a more manageable difficulty level). Perhaps they were made by the same company? I’d check if I wasn’t bone idle lazy. Unfortunately I am bone idle lazy. So… in the dis-utopian future a hero is once more required to fight the evil robot scourge. Enter the titular Kabuki Quantum Fighter. What awesome weapon do you get to fight the all pervading evil with? A lazer gun? Nope. A bazooka? Think again. A giant mech assault tank. No, no, no. You get… YOUR HAIR!

Yes, that’s right. Kabuki Quantum Fighter’s big bushy mane is apparently lethal! Which in turn can only mean that he has some seriously lax personal hygiene. My brother once goaded me into sniffing his unwashed dreadlocks. Dude… That shit was rank! So I can totally understand how Kabuki Quantum Fighter can kill with his hair. Makes perfect sense. So yes, you walk around flicking your hair at enemies with an animation that looks like you’re headbanging to metal. Which is totally awesome! In fact, I demand that every game made in the future include the option to headbang.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking; you’ve written a hell of a lot without telling us almost anything about the fucking game! And you’d be right. I will now tell you that Kabuki Quantum Fighter is a tightly controlled, mid difficulty platformer that made for an excellent alternative to Mega Man and Contra. And don’t worry, as cool as hair murder is, you also gain access to a myriad of cool power-ups (scroll weapons, spreader and of course *insert typical 8-bit power-up here*). In closing I will direct your attention to the AWESOME / AWFUL movie Kabukiman below. Seriously. Watch and prepare to piss yourself repeatedly!

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8-Bit, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Alien (CPC464)

Does anyone remember Alien for the Amstrad CPC464 and the ZX Spectrum? The game started when a random member of the crew (not always Kane) gets subjected to chestbuster hell and the alien starts chewing on the furniture. You take control over the other six members of the crew and have to figure out a way to dispose of the slimy menace. As you individually move them around the Nostromo, you can pick up weapons and items like the laser pistol and the incinerator.

Whilst these weapons could possibly ward off the alien during an attack, they wouldn’t actually be able to kill it. The most obvious strategies for alien extermination would be to either lure it into the airlock and ‘blow it the fuck out into space’, or to set the ship’s self destruct and hightail it in the shuttle. The shuttle, however, could only play host to three crew members and maliciously leaving the other three behind to burn was a big no-no in the post game evaluations.

Just like in the movie, one of the crew was secretly an android intent on protecting the alien (*spoiler alert*… But then if you haven’t seen alien, WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST 32 YEARS!?). This android (again, not always Ash) would sometimes attack other members of the crew, usually after their numbers had dwindled due to being monster munched.

Speaking about getting monster munched, the alien attack in this game is terrifying! You spend the entire time in silence looking at the ship’s blueprint, moving stick-figures around while peering at text boxes. When the alien attacks, the screen goes black, urgent chip tunes kick in and the alien appears in full 8-bit glory, gnashing and clawing at the screen. Most of the time this sight means death and inspires panicked mashing of the ‘Get the Fuck Outta There!’ button.

Another very interesting element of Alien was the emotional well-being of the crew. If you armed them or kept them together in a group, they would merely be ‘uneasy’. If you sent them off alone they might become ‘nervous’, ‘paranoid’ or ‘shaken’. If you let them discover the bodies of their fellow shipmates, they would usually become ‘broken’. When they hit this rock bottom, they would often disobey orders and flee in random directions.

Alien was a classic game that was survival horror before the genre even existed. The threadbare graphics didn’t matter because your imagination did all the work. You could almost see all those dank, dark tunnels in your head. You could almost hear the constant thrum of the Nostromo’s engines, smell the deep taint of oil and maybe even catch Ridley Scott berating Harrisson Ford for being a whiny crybaby on the set of Bladerunner.

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8-Bit, gaming, NES

Tokyochuchu on: Nintendo World Cup (NES)

Does anyone remember the 1990 NES classic Nintendo World Cup? Nintendo World Cup is a *ahem* soccer game (or football if you are from the green and pleasant land) where each team has six players. Although it maintains the shape of a soccer game, Nintendo World Cup actually has very little to do with soccer other than sticking the ball in the back of the net.

Offsides? Not a chance in hell! Basically speaking, there are no rules in Nintendo World Cup! Prepare yourself for the most brutal game of soccer ever. All tackles are sliding and two footed (which will instantly net you a red card in the real world). When the tackles hit, the unfortunate victim flies through the air with his eyes bulging out of his skull. Hit the same player a few times AND HE DIES!! Not only that, but his body will stay on the pitch in the spot where he fell until the match ends!

It’s not unusual to reach the end of a game and find the field strewn with corpses. In fact, my brother and I would often resort to the underhanded tactic of trying to kill all the players on the pitch and then just start scoring in the opposing team’s open goal! Be careful of the goalkeeper, though. That sumbitch is badass. He will literally kick you in the face if you get within striking distance. And if you do get kicked by him, he boots you all the way out of the penalty box! That shit puts Jackie Chan to shame. This makes sense, actually, because Nintendo World Cup was originally a Japanese game titled “Hotblooded High School Dodge Ball Club: Soccer Edition”. So when you see someone thundering a shot into another players face ON PURPOSE, it starts to make a bit more sense. And man-oh-man does it make you laugh!!

And there lies the true beauty of Nintendo World Cup. If you can make it through one match without pissing yourself laughing, you’re doing better than me. Even the players names make me snicker. How can you deny a team selection roster that boasts the world class talents of ‘Mick’, ‘Dave’ and ‘George’. Yeah, the 13 included international teams are so awesome that they’ll even play on solid sheet-ice. Now that’s some badassery!

Whether it’s the laugh-out-loud violence, the play mechanics that only allow you to control the same player throughout the entire match or the unbelievably fun multiplayer aspects, Nintendo World Cup is an excellent title that transcends nostalgia and is still fun to play.

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8-Bit, gaming, NES

Tokyochuchu on: Low G Man (NES)

Does anyone remember Low G Man for the NES? I won’t blame you if you don’t. Low G Man was never massively popular and the NES was flooded with it’s side-scrolling ilk. Low G Man, however, was a cut above most of the competition. The controls were tight and responsive and there were no glaringly stupid design choices. It even managed to scratch out small nuggets of originality from time to time. The ‘G’ in Low G Man obviously stands for Gravity, which equates to being able to jump really high in the game. We’re talking tower block height here people! As I mentioned before, the controls are responsive, so the height of your jump is easy to gauge. This mechanic certainly makes for some interesting and unique platforming later in the game.

That said, platforming definitely comes in second behind combat. Low G Man has a pistol that can be upgraded with a myriad of 8-bit power-ups. You’ll eventually have boomerangs, scroll weapons, power balls and even the good ol’ spreader at your disposable. More prominent than those, however, is Low G Man’s spear. When you attack an enemy with your default sissy-pistol, it merely freezes him. You then have to use your multi-directional spear to polish him off. Quite a lot of the bosses require the use of the spear, so expect a lot of projectile dodging, getting in close and stabbing away at break points.

Never willing to be outgunned, Low G Man can steal enemy vehicles such as walking mechs and flying cars (that drop bombs! Yay!). These are super fun to use and provide a brief reprieve from being murdered. Which is a fate you will be condemned to many times over. But whilst Low G Man is a difficult game and requires quick reflexes, it never feels impossible like a lot of old NES titles. The bosses are memorable, the music is great and the game bristles with timeless retro cool. In short, if you are looking for a great NES action game that isn’t Mega Man or Contra, Low G Man is sure to float your boat… And then sink it with a badass 8-bit explosion!

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8-Bit, gaming, NES

Tokyochuchu on: Duck Tales (NES)

Does anyone remember Duck Tales on the NES? Of course you do, especially with the remastered version on the way this summer. What better time to step back and have a nostalgic reminiscence about one of the best titles for Nintendo’s 8-bit box.

Developed by Capcom, Duck Tales had a magical spark to it. The graphics were cute, crisp and clean. The controls were precise, the concept uncluttered and the music unforgettable. Lest we forget that ‘The Moon’ theme has become a standard for any gamer in a metal band.

Duck Tales is split up into five stages; the Moon, the Amazon, Transylvania, the African Mines and the Himalayas. Each stage has it’s own graphical style, enemies and gimmicks. This creates a decent bit of variety in a pretty simple game.

Adding to the variety and replayabillity is the fact that the levels aren’t linear. You are free to explore, with multiple paths leading off to hidden goodies, secrets and bosses. Not only that, but the stages could even be tackled in any order! I know that seems like nothing these days but back then it was a pretty awesome feature.

The bosses were pretty memorable, too. They (and the entire game in general) had just the right balance of difficulty. They weren’t too challenging but were tricky enough not to be a total cakewalk. And you had to be somewhat careful because you only had a small amount of lives to finish the game with. With no save function or continue option (unless earned), ‘game over’ meant that it was back to the title screen to start over again.

Duck Tales was truly one of the best games on the NES. In fact, it was actually my personal favorite and a game I still boot up the old grey box to play from time to time (when I can get the bloody thing to work). Success inevitably brings sequels and towards the end of the NES’s lifespan, Duck Tales 2 was delivered. And was played by… absolutely no-one. Why was Duck Tales 2 such an abysmal flop? I don’t know. The game was a very solid platformer that expanded nicely upon the ideas of the original. Sure, it was more difficult and lacked the defining X element that made it’s predecessor a timeless classic, but it was in no way a bad game. It’s definitely worth checking out if you didn’t know about it and are hungry for a bit more 8-bit pogo action.

Now, the remastered edition… Hmmmm. As a real fan of the original, this is one of the most anticipated titles of the year for me. That said, I am a bit cautious. I was a huge fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtle in Time on the SNES… And the ‘Reshelled’ version of that was fucking horrendous! Disturbingly, the new Duck Tales remaster features the same type of graphical overhaul. Yes, yes, I know. They’re not the same game and nor are they from the same developer… But it still puts a knot in my stomach.

Especially dangerous is the fact that the original Duck Tales is, as I’ve said before, utterly timeless. It still looks great, has fantastic charm and plays tight as a drum. So the new remastered version had better be good, because to be outplayed by a game that’s around twenty years old would be really embarrassing… And a very distinct possibility. If I was the devs, I would be pissing in my pants!

So, kudos to the new developer for having the balls to tackle such a classic. We’re all waiting with baited breath. Please don’t cock it up. And for all those of you who haven’t tried the original… Go do that immediately. Seriously, it’s more than worth the price of a used NES.

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