Being a long time viewer/enjoyer of RetroJunk's site, I've finally decided to try my hand at writing an article.

Ah, the Nintendo Entertainment System. The second gaming system my family ever owned. (An Atari 7800 being the first, unless you count the original home-version of Pong, but that was my parents game anyway, kids couldn't touch it.)

We got ours the Christmas of 1989, and it was the original NES control deck, the big grey monster that had a nasty habit of going "I'm not going to play this game at this time *sticks its tongue out*". Of course, after the Christmas holidays, we could only play it on occasion during the weekends, but we could play it all summer long. So, 1990 became the Summer of NES. I'm going to write a few of these articles, and they're going to cover 2 games per article. A decent selection of games I played that summer, some owned, some rented, but all of them memorable in some way. First off, I was 9 years old playing these games, and you would think more of those NES games wouldn't have as steep a learning curve or difficulty. Guess again, but that was one thing that kept us kids coming back to these games (some of which were GOD AWFUL!) time and again.

article image First up is "Back to the Future", an ill-conceived and bugged game made by LJN toys in 1989. (This isn't a review, nor is it a lambasting critique, there are enough of those out there. These were my impressions as a child, and now.)

You know the story of Marty McFly, and how he almost wiped himself out of existence. Now, you get to play his story, and BE Marty McFly. "It's almost like being in the movie!" What a crock.....

First off, the game was very linear, constantly scrolling downwards, and you got to maneuver Marty through a 2-D field. It had 4 distinct parts, with 4 stages inbetween each "story" part. All the inbetween stages were the same, except in color, and toughness. You run from one end of the street to the other, trying to collect clocks to keep your family photo from fading away, and dodge the bullies and bees. If you have played this game and gotten past the first story part, the bees are the worst part of it.

article image This is a familar sight to players. You usually got swarmed by one or two (in later levels, three) bees at once, while dodging benches, walls, and the ever present bullies. The bees are programmed to move erratically, but a bug causes them to head straight for you 85% of the time. So, after you get through 4 levels (different only in layout, same obstacles), you get ot the story parts, that are supposed to correspond with movie events. However, once you completed the 3rd story part (Marty's performance at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance), your picture no longer faded in the 4th set of inbetween stages, and the clocks were only valuable for the 50 points you got for picking them up, which is a fortunate thing, because the game ramps up the difficulty here, with tons of bees, and slingshot/bb/pellet shooting bullies coming at you. If you managed to make it all the way, you got to prepare to go... Back to the Future!

article image No matter how many lives you had left, you had to get the Delorean to 88 miles per hour, dodging lightning bolts, and you had one shot at it. Nothing more frustrating than spending 30-45 minutes getting to this one crucial major point, just to be off by one MPH when you reach the power lines, and you lose. I managed to do it the first time I ever got this far, and I've never been able to do it since. Tragic irony, or poetic justice, you tell me.

This game was only rented twice, and never rented again after that (but I picked it up for its nostalgia value at a flea market 7 years ago).

article image Next up, was an unlicensed game from 1990, one of Tengen's games, Pac-Mania! This game put an intriguing spin on Pac-Man, namely having the ability to jump over ghosts! This one, we owned, and saw heavy play by all us kids, but also my Mom, trying to get as far as we could.

article image You got to run through the game, eating pellets, and chomping Power Pellets to eat the ghosts, jumping over them for the first 2 series of stages. Seems pretty easy, right? Of course not! 3rd series of stages onward, green and black ghosts jump when you do, so you have to avoid them like regular. And let's not forget the most annoying non-jumping ghost, the purple one, who seemed to be able to outrun you every time. (After clearing all stages, including Jungly Steps, the final one, the game resets and lets you continue on from the first one, keeping the difficulty, but it speeds up the ghosts by 25%, and that accursed purple ghost moves at least 3 times as fast as you!)

These games occupied at least a solid weekend's worth of play, among others that'll be covered later. But they are the first two that made an impression on me, Pac-Mania for its novelty, because I always hated in the original Pac-Man games you couldn't jump over the ghosts. And Back To The Future because at the time it was captivating gameplay. Not so much anymore.

A part of my childhood that will remain with me always, especially in these days with emulators that allow me to recapture the fun, and pain of these games. Please bear with me, this is my first article, and if decently received, I will be writing more. And if not decently received, I may just pop more out just for spite.

Until later, peace!