Good day, all! The Christmas season is in full swing, and the big day is getting closer and closer. I hope each and every one of you is having a joyous holiday, whatever you celebrate. And I've got some cool news; against all odds, I've managed to aquire an NES Classic Edition. I guess that means I'm gonna have to try and finish Metroid now. ;) But I look forward to it. But enough of that. Let's get to some rentals! There's lots of vehicles in this batch, as well as some good old fashioned platforming. Enjoy.
When people think of Strider, they think of the non-stop balls to the wall action that the series is known for. Strider on the NES is a different beast entirely. You still play as Strider Hiryu, but this time the focus is on platforming and exploring different locales to find keys. There's plenty of enemies to swing your sword at, but NES Strider could still almost be different franchise entirely. Since exploration and backtracking were required, you can guess that I didn't get far into this game. I don't even think I got past the first area. You hit a certain point early on where you talk to somebody and then a floppy disk drops down from the ceiling. What you are supposed to do is take this back to the beginning of the level and analyze it, and that would direct your next course of action. Not exactly rocket science, but I wouldn't have thought to do any of that back then. Needless to say, Strider was lost on me.
Shortly after renting it, we went over to visit my aunt and uncle. I went into Brent's room and lo and behold, he and his brother were playing Strider. I said hello and that we had just rented the game ourselves and that I didn't like it. My cousins, however, knew what they were doing. So I watched them play and actually complete areas and accomplish things and I rethought my position on the game. Even then, I've never played Strider since. I looked up some reviews for this game as I was looking for screenshots of it, and several people agree that while odd for a Strider game, it's a pretty good NES game on it's own. Gonna have to play it again sometime...
I think my dad may have been the one who wanted to rent this. I remember looking at the at the box and thinking the game looked funny. It had enemies that looked like hangars, for crying out loud. Things like this amuse me. Unfortunately, there's little else I remember about it. You took your ship and attacked everything in front of you. Like Gradius, except cartoonish. It did have changing perspectives though, switching from side scrolling to overhead view, which I thought was kinda neat.
I think there was also a co-op option, which is always fun in these kinds of games. I never got very far in it myself, but one night when my sister had a friend over, we all sat watched my dad play it and he made a ton of progress. He didn't beat it, but it was still neat to watch. I thought it was fun, but not enough to want to own it or play it again after that rental And I don't really have much to say on it other than that.
Ah, the Noid. For a long time I didn't even know what he was called, let alone who he even was. He was just this Claymation rabbit-ty thing that was involved with pizza somehow. Was he a tv show? Some kind of special? I sought out these answers as best as my single digit year old could and eventually figured the whole thing out. But even when I wasn't sure of the Noid's identity, something about this character appealed to me. I've always liked Claymation and I'm sure that had a lot to do with it. So when I found out there was a video game out about him, I was pretty excited to play it. I was staying with some relatives and from there we would go to my grandparents for their annual big holiday party, and my parents would take me home after that. They had a Nintendo and my uncle took me out to rent a game for it while he picked out some movies. I chose Yo! Noid. I also remember during that visit my uncle taking me with him to get some fast food for everybody and he ordered some extra fries and we chowed them all down on the way home.
Since I only played it during the weekend I rented it, I can't tell you if this is an all time classic or not, but I remember enjoying it. As the Noid, you make your way through the city in an attempt to...I don't remember. But the gameplay involved platforming through different stages and using your trusty yo-yo to take out enemies. There was also some mini-games that involved yourself and another Noid eating pizza. One hit from an enemy was all it took to kill you. There were also scrolls to collect, but I can't remember what their purpose was. Over that weekend I could only get a few levels in to it, at least until the final afternoon. While the adults were getting ready to go to my grandparents, I decided to squeeze in some last minute Nintendo time. I was doing really well and was well past wherever I had made it too earlier. But then it happened. Just as I was starting yet another new stage, my uncle came in and announced it was time to leave. Sigh.... We returned the game on the way, and that was the last I played of Yo! Noid.
My mom rented this game for my dad on his birthday, but along with it she also got him the NES Advantage Joystick. I have a few memories of that as well. We didn't have any of the right games to get anything from the turbo function, but slow-mo was interesting. All it did was rapidly pause and unpause the game. It was really kind of obnoxious, but it also kinda fun to show people. I also used to unscrew the ball on top of the joystick, play with it some, and put it back on again. Why? Who knows, but for whatever reason I enjoyed doing that. Getting back to the actual game, this is the thing that taught me how to spell the word "island." I had seen reruns of Gilligan's Island before, plus I've always liked to read, so you would think I would have figured it out sooner, but oh well. Being my dad's birthday, he took his new joystick controller and was first to step foot on Adventure Island. The rest of us watched and awaited our turns.
In case any of you have never played an Adventure Island game, you play as a fellow named Higgins, who like most NES protagonists has had his lady friend snatched away by some nefarious evil doer. In this case, it's a giant evil Rhino and his minions. So you the player guide Higgins through an island adventure to beat the bad guys and get your girl back. You could even get a skateboard to ride on from time to time. But there was also a catch. One hit kills you, but you also had a timer of sorts. A bar meter at the top of the screen drains as you play. Collecting fruit throughout the levels fills it up again. So you had be both quick and careful. I only ever made it to the first boss, but I thought the game was pretty fun. It's sequel, however, was even better.
Unlike the first one, I don't have a story for how I rented this other than I saw it at the video store one day and wanted to play it. And Adventure Island 2 turned out to be a great little game. Taking what worked in the first game, it expanded everything else and did everything a good sequel is supposed to do. Evil Mr. Rhino is back to being no good, but the world here has been greatly expanded. This time there a several Islands to make your way though, each with a separate theme and it's own final boss. But by the far the coolest addition to the game were the dinosaur friends you could ride.
There was a blue one that attacked with his tail, a red one that spit fireballs, a Nessie-ish creature for underwater levels, and a pterodactyl you could fly with. Cracking open an egg and finding one of these was always a pleasure, though I admit I would often take a hit and lose my new friend just as soon as I found him. But even so, I was better at this game than the first one. I got to at least the 2nd or 3rd island. I didn't beat it, but it was nice to have the feeling of making progress. I don't believe there was any way to save your game though, so you had to start from the beginning every time you turned the system off. But this was standard for many NES games, so I can't complain about that too much. I think it may have been around Christmas time when I rented this because I think I remember our tree being up when I played this. There was also an Adventure Island 3 and at first I was pretty sure I rented it but when I was looking up screens for it, I started to think I may have just read about it and my memory got mixed up. I know it involved aliens though.
My interest was peaked by a couple things here. The first was the cover art. It looks like anime meets Archie comics. I've never really followed either but hey, I still think it looks cool. The other things is the games title. Bump n Jump. It's fun to say, especially when you're a little kid. For myself though, those were the best things about this game. It starts with somebody driving off with your girl and naturally you give hot pursuit in your own vehicle. As the game's title implies, you are able to jump. Leaping onto other vehicles destroys them gets you point bonuses the more you do it. Flashing exclamation points would indicate a break in the road you would have to jump over. Usually it was just water, but on occasion you would have to leap over a bridge too.
But even though I played a lot of it, it was never a game I could say I really enjoyed. It was very fast paced, but it was also kind of repetitive. Like most games we rented, I was pretty lousy at it, but there was one sitting where I did unusually well. I don't know if we had friends over or we brought it to someone's house, but a couple other people were watching me play. But rather than be thrilled at my progress, I just remember thinking that the game seemed to go on forever. I really must not have enjoyed it then, because most playthroughs of the game I looked up didn't even last half an hour. I still like the box art though, and all these years later I still think Bump N jump is fun to say.
The first neighbors I remember our family having had a son named Marcus who I used to play with. We didn't play a lot of Nintendo together, in fact we played outside more than anything, but there were a couple games I played at his house that made me want to rent them on my own. This was the first one. I told my dad about it and how I thought it was pretty cool and asked if we could go to the video store to see if they had a copy. As you can tell by it's appearance on this list, they did. Breakthru put you in control of an armored vehicle that could both jump and shoot. And I'm sorry to say that's really all I can remember about it.
Let's see...I do recall the first level being a canyon where you had to jump over rocks. There was also a bridge that was all broken up and you had to jump across parts of it. I'm pretty sure there was some type of base too. While I may not remember much in terms of it's levels, I do remember this game was one of only a few NES games I rented that I was able to beat. Being an arcade port it wasn't a very long game, but I was still very proud of myself when I beat it and I continued to beat it over and over during that rental period. Take my victories where I can get 'em. ;)
I think what happened with this game was I helped my dad take some things to the dump, and he said we could go rent something afterwards. So we did just that. It was the title that stood out to me here. I remember looking at the game's cover and thinking "Who names a game Silk Worm?" But it looked cool and it also had two player co-op. Not only that, but one player used a helicopter, and the other used a jeep. How cool is that, right? It's a neat idea that you don't even see in today's games, which really surprises me when I think about it. Picture playing Star Fox Co-op, where one person takes the Arwing and the another is driving the Landmaster. Oh, the possibilities...But anyway, we rented this and on the way home I called being the helicopter. In fact, I'm pretty sure I used the helicopter anytime we played this together or when I played by myself. (Thanks, Dad.)
Played like it looks, folks. Silk Worm side-scrolling shooter. And it was pretty cool. Solo was fun, but the game really shined in two player. The jeep could aim it's fire and could jump over land mines and stuff. The helicopter had more maneuverability, but the two complemented each other really well. Yes, the game is still enjoyable by yourself, but you can tell it was designed for cooperative play. And that's fine. It's also all I can remember about renting it. But I still have to wonder....who names a game Silk Worm?
Let me start by saying I love the box art here. It looks like a movie poster for an old war movie, and I would love to have poster-size copy of it and frame it. Is that weird? Maybe, but I don't care. I also like this box art because the seriousness of it does not represent the way the actual game looks at all. In reality, it was almost cute looking with fun, catchy, and completely non-epic sounding music playing in the background. Sky Kid is also one of the few NES games we rented more than once. Now that I'm thinking about it, it may have been the only NES game we rented more than once. What this game did to draw us back , I'm not quite sure, especially since we rented much better games than this one. It's not that Sky Kid is a bad game, it's just not what you would call a special one.
At first glance it may seem like a typical, albeit cuter, side scrolling shooter. But there are some differences here. First of all, pressing one of the buttons makes your plane do a little flip. Not only is this handy for dodging enemy fire, but doing it by the sun in the background would cause it to change from day to night. In addition to shooting enemies, you also had to pick up a bomb, and then carry it to an enemy base and drop it on them. Hit it right in the middle and the whole thing is destroyed and you get more points. Then you had to land. That's another stand out element to this game; landing and taking off. It's not a big gameplay mechanic or anything, but it's still kinda neat to start from the ground and have to land again. And maybe that's why we rented this a couple of times. It may not be anything special, but there is a certain undeniable charm to it's gameplay.
This is one of the games Brent had in his collection, and I played it at his house frequently. Since I couldn't do squat on a skateboard in real life, I guess doing it digitally was the next best thing. This was one of my favorite games of his and since I had played quite a bit it, this next part is amusing. It was nice and sunny afternoon when I rented this, and when we got it home and started, I couldn't figure out how to get to the actual gameplay. See, you start the game in a skate shop with the pierced and Mohawk sporting store owner. You have a cursor you have to move to a certain part of the screen to leave the skate shop and from there you are free to choose your event. Despite playing a lot of this with Brent, I had forgotten that and spent at least 15 minutes mashing buttons and resetting the game trying to get started before I noticed the cursor.
Once you leave the skate shop, you have a few choices as to what you want to do. There was a half pipe competition for highest score. There was a downhill slalom where you raced between flags. There was a race down an alley with another person. Another event pitted you and a computer or human player to a duel in an empty swimming pool to knock each other down with American Gladiator-ish clubs. Events could be practiced or competed in. I think there was also an option to do all them together in one big competition. The dueling was a lot of fun with another player, and I remember Brent and I laughing a lot when playing it. My favorite was the alley race. There was lots of stuff to jump over and off of. Plus you could also punch and kick the other player, which of course is always a good time. There was a police car at the end of the alley and if you jumped on it, the siren lights lit up. I wasn't too good at the other events. I could never do the tricks right for the half pipe and the controls for the slalom race were kinda hard to get used to. The game's music is good though, especially the title screen. Skate or Die is very limited by todays standards, but this game is one of my favorite NES memories. I had lot of fun with it, even the events I wasn't good at. It's one of those games I can always look back on and remember good times. I'm very thankful for those memories.
And that's where I'll leave you this time, everybody. Since it will it have come and gone by the time the next article, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Until next time, stay retro folks. Thanks for reading.