This month the legendary Nintendo Entertainment System turns 25 years old (along with Back to the Future!). Hard to believe I was only three years old when the NES secretly went to retail in New York and slowly became the console that changed the industry. My family didn’t get one until probably 1988 which is when the NES really came into it’s own. I can remember it being an accomplishment actually completing stage 1-1 of Super Mario Brothers. I also remember thinking the game would be over once we finished off Bowser at the end of 1-4, how wrong could I have been? I can even remember just staring at a copy of Zelda that my brother borrowed from a friend which I called “the gold game.” Those were fun days, the days before internet trolls, and snarky game journalists.
Anyway, I’m not here to give a history lesson on the machine, nor am I going to write up a bunch of reasons why I love the system so much. You can find greater and more amazing articles everywhere else, and if you’re up for a daily fix of articles about classic NES games, Gamespite has you covered for the duration of the month. What I am going to do though is simply link you to all of the NES stuff we’ve featured on this site before. See, I apparently just never got over the era and Shamoozal has had its fair share of NES related content throughout the years. With that said, enjoy the run down of features!
Strider for the NES is a bit of a strange one. Generally when people think of Strider they think of the Arcade original (and the Genesis port), but rarely do they recall the NES version. Whenever the NES version is brought up, it’s usually mistakenly labeled as a “port” of the Arcade game, when in reality the two games were developed side by side. This is normally where I’d like to say that the NES version has a bit of a bad rap, but the fact of the matter is that fond memories aside, Strider’s a dud.
The Wii Virtual Console has been dead lately, and well, Sunsoft has been pretty much dead forever. Seeing these two things revived thanks to this week’s release of Ufouria makes me pretty happy.
Ufouria is a late gen NES title that was due for release in the states but never made it outside of Japan and Europe. It was far along enough that magazines like Nintendo Power had write ups and advertisements for the game. Me personally, I always wanted to try it because I loved Sunsoft games. After nearly 20 years, the Virtual Console and Sunsoft have made that dream a reality. Yes, I know I could have just downloaded a ROM of it, but whatever. I’m legit.
Ufouria: The Saga revolves around four cute Pokemon-like characters (get it? You-Four-Of-Ya) in a quest to return home. The game is very much a Metroidvania title, so exploring, learning the map, and back tracking is the name of the game here. While one character, the Frosty the Snow Man looking Bop Louie, is selectable at first it doesn’t take long to track down the other selectable characters. Of course, each character has their own unique skills (the lizard is the only one that doesn’t fall on his face on ice, the frog can swim, ect) so there is plenty of swapping going on between the four during the game. Eventually though, I found myself almost using Bop Louie and the frog almost exclusively, only going back to the lizard and ghost when I had to.
I found it interesting that for a game done in the early 90s, that Sunsoft had the sense to add arrows that pop up early on in the game to help keep players on track so that they don’t get lost or frustrated. Only after acquiring some key items and the map opens up do the arrows go away. It’s a rather forward thinking move on their part, and it’s something that hasn’t really become a standard in games until somewhat recently.
However as bold a design choice as that is, I’m baffled the game never teaches you how to attack. For the first 20 minutes I thought my character was worthless since I couldn’t harm any bad guys. I knew something was wrong and actually consulted the digital manual included with the game where I found my answer. Holding in “down” while jumping is the only way to stomp enemies. It’s a strange move in an era where we were conditioned by Super Mario that jumping on heads is the way to go. Why throw the curve ball in there? I suppose it adds some skill to how the player attacks, but as good as the game is about explaining what items do what, I’m surprised they missed such a crucial step. Still, fans of Ducktales would feel right at home after they figure out what to do.
That said, the game features a well designed and interconnected map with plenty of incentive to keep playing as the game almost constantly rewards the player with new items and gizmos. While the game does have a certain old school bite in the difficulty department, Game Overs aren’t the end of the world and are more forgiving then they might seem. Once revived the player always starts from the same point on the map, but all of the items acquired are still accounted for and since the map is so tight it isn’t too bad getting back to where you were. The game becomes even more forgiving thanks to the Virtual Console’s save function. If the player so chooses they can write down Mega Man style passwords, but the save function does the job just fine.
As a late gen NES title the game sports some nice, bold, and well animated graphics. However, the awesome Sunsoft soundtrack is nearly ruined by the fact that this is the PAL version converted for the Virtual Console and not the Famicom one, so the audio is sped up more than it should be. Though I never played the original game, I felt the soundtrack was off and doing a bit of research (ie looking on GAF and seeing people talking about it) confirmed my suspicions. It isn’t a deal breaker, just a slight bummer.
For 600 Wii Points some people might find the game to be too short (took me about two and a half hours, a half hour worth trying to figure out the final boss), but for someone that doesn’t want to pay the absurd asking price for the PAL version on eBay, that figure is rather fair.
Holy crap. We are actually finished GFGames #5: How to Hook Up the NES. This was a rather massive under taking and I almost can’t believe it’s finally over. The Shamoozal staff worked their asses off on this one, and hopefully it shows. Joe literally worked day and night yesterday to get the audio finished before he left for vacation so we could get this thing up and I’m extremely thankful for it. He did an awesome job, and I’m pretty confident that this isn’t just one of our most well written episodes, but both our best animated episode, but also the best sounding episode.
As you might know, I’ve been throwing this idea around of having a short inspired by Disney’s old Goofy cartoons for well over a year and a half now. I brought the idea up to Steve and Frank in January of ’08 and Steve wrote an initial treatment. At that time, we were fresh off GFG#1 and started working on the second episode. When we finished the next episode, Frank and I knew that this thing was going to be a beast and decided to hold off on it. So we did #3 over the summer, and I decided I could handle #4 on my own since I had free time. Once we had four of these under our belts, I felt like it was time to revisit this script and finally get cracking. Well, eight months later and here we are. It was a heck of a ride, but let me tell you, it’ll feel great to be working on some new material.
Anyway, you can check out the episode over in the Episode Section. Leave some feedback and let us know what you think! Tomorrow I’ll try and get the HD versions ready for download. Thanks for hanging in there everyone.
Monster In My Pocket was a somewhat popular toy line that came around in 1990. The toy line was similar to the old M.U.S.C.L.E. line (that I used to LOVE) in that it was made up of a boat load of small, soft plastic figures. Instead of being wrestlers, Pocket was based after mythical creatures, like vampires, mummies, werewolves, and anything in between. The franchise seemed to have only lasted a few short years, but it made the media rounds in the form of comic books, a made for TV animated movie, and of course, the 1991 Konami video game.
I wasn’t really a fan of the Monster In My Pocket franchise, and by the time the NES game came around, I believe I had already moved onto the SNES so I didn’t care much about the game either. However, there used to be a local video store that rented out NES games, but they weren’t really up to date on their Genesis and SNES stock (actually, they went out of business not much longer after Blockbuster came to town, and now Blockbuster is on its way out, weird huh?). So I was in there one time and decided to rent Monster In My Pocket because of the Konami name branded on the package. Even at a young age, I was confident in Konami products, especially licensed ones.
About an hour after renting it, I had finished the whole thing in a single sitting. It wasn’t really hard, but it was rather enjoyable regardless, and at least I only rented it. That brings us to today, where I felt like playing through the game again, so I ordered a copy off eBay for a whole dollar. The game came in a few days ago, and this morning I recreated history by plowing through it again in a single sitting.
As a late generation NES title, this game is doing some cool stuff, and it has really good graphics all things considered. The lead characters (you can choose between Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster, guess who I chose) are large and well animated, and the game pushes a bunch of large scale sprites. Since you’re supposed to be a monster that can fit in a pocket, the stage layouts are reminiscent of Capcom’s Rescue Rangers game, with over sized house hold objects. In classic Konami fashion, two players can run through the game together, in what feels like an easy man’s Contra. While there is no shooting and combat is done in close quarters, the game moves quickly and has a strong focus on platforming, which is what makes it feel more like Contra than say Konami’s NES TMNT brawlers. In fact, it’s the only NES game I know of that has a double jump, which is something of a standard these days. Which leads me to question, which game had the double jump first, this or Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts on SNES? Or was there something before that? My money is on Ghouls, but I could be wrong.
The game consists of six stages, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if you actually had to get good at them to win. Obviously developed for kids, Konami decided to go easy on the player, so unlike Contra there are no one hit deaths (you get five hits) and there’s plenty of health laying around. On top of that, the player respawns right where they left off until they run out of lives in which they just start at the beginning of whatever stage they’re on. I imagine someone who is even half way decent at video games could plow through this game in a single sitting, two tops.
It certainly isn’t a classic, but there’s enough Konami charm in there (tight controls, great hit detection, bold graphics for the NES, great pacing, 2 player action, and the expected fantastic Konami style chip tune soundtrack) to make it worth looking into for NES collectors. Considering how cheap you can nab it on eBay and the fact that it will never be re-released ever, I’d say its worth the half hour it takes to run through, especially if you have a couple of beers and a buddy.