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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16-Bit

Tokyochuchu on: Go Go Ackman

Does anyone remeber Go Go Ackman on the Super Famicom? Of course you don’t! But that’s not your fault because the game was never actually released outside of Japan.

That’s a real shame as Go! Go! Ackman is an absolutely fantastic 2D sidescrolling platformer. The plot revolves around the titular Ackman and his mini devil sidekick. Their job is to kill and collect souls. Hmmm… When you put it like that, it seems quite dark, doesn’t it. Like a proto Manhunt or something!

Of course, it’s not dark whatsoever and has a bright pallet with a twee art design. Basically, it has that trademark Japanese cuteness but without stepping it into overkill. Go! Go! Ackman also has a great sense of Japanese humor, with the bosses in particular being weird, chuckle-worthy creations

The gameplay, whilst not breaking any molds, is very solid indeed. The controls are very tight and easy to grasp. You start the game with only your fists and feet as weapons but as you go through the game you can pick up such items as a boomerang, a sword and a pistol. These items work the same way as in Mario and Sonic. If you get hit, you lose the power up. Go! Go! Ackman also includes a couple of vehicle  stages where you either drive a car, use a surfboard or fly a hover mech.

These stages have a constantly scrolling screen and usually require quicker reflexes than the other levels. The car levels are actually a little frustrating to be honest and require a touch of trial and error. But once you have acclimatised to the vehicle controls and the car’s mine-bouncing technique, they are quickly surpassed.

Ultimately, Go! Go! Ackman is an excellent platformer, stuffed to the brim with memorable bosses, colorful graphics, great music and Japanese charm. So, if you ever feel like playing an awesome platform game that most people in the western world have never heard of, emulate your way on down to Go! Go! Ackman land.

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32-Bit, gaming, Sega Saturn

Tokyochuchu on: Amok

 

Does anyone out there remember the 1996 Playstation, Saturn & PC title Amok? For those who remain blissfully unaware, Amok was a third-person mech shooter. Although mech shooters were two-a-penny in the mid nineties, Amok tried to stand out from the crowd by adding an amphibious element to the proceedings. When on land the mech would be in the standard AT-ST style but when in the water it would transform into a big submersible frog. This presumably made it easier to kill enemies as they’d be busy pissing themselves laughing at your ‘frog-mobile’ whilst you were getting missile lock.

The plot of Amok was the usual half baked crap. Something about a rebel fight against corrupt dictatorzzzzzzz… Basically speaking, Amok was a level-based arcade shooter which means no-one gave a tea-bagging nun about the plot, only caring about where the next sumbitch to be gibbed was hiding at. Objectives in the game followed the normal path of the day; ‘take out three shield generator pylons and then take out whatever they were shielding’ or; ‘escort this train from A to B and make sure it doesn’t get blown up’. Sometimes the game would shock you by stretching to; ‘make sure you blow up this train and it’s escorts’!!!

As you may have gathered from my tone, Amok was certainly not perfect. In fact it had a myriad of annoying flaws. Firstly, it suffered almost all of the graphical failings of the 32bit era; nasty pixelation of close-up objects, a poor draw distance masked by ‘fog’ and plenty of pop-up and fade-in. Add to that it’s crippling difficulty and a very short campaign and you’re probably left wondering why I’m even bringing up such an obvious gaming turd.

The reason Amok is remembered so fondly is down to it’s one saving grace; you could play the entire campaign in split-screen two player co-op. That might be commonplace now, but back in ’96 it was a real rarity. That changed Amok from something that I would’ve shelved very quickly into a nostalgically flawed title that I nether-the-less sank a shit-ton of hours into with my brother. God bless your crappy, unoriginal, graphically nauseating ass, Amok… We loved you in our own sick way!

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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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