Link to the first article:
Some time ago I wrote an article on games I loved as a kid, but practically no-one appreciated or even knew of them. I made that mistake myself, having forgotten some NES jewels. So without any further delay I bring you the "Underrated NES games, that even I forgot"
After the success of Konami's "Castlevania" series I guess this was Taito's response. You put the game in the console and "BAM!", an awesome theme-song kicks in to a promising title screen and an intro to the story.
The evil witch Belzed attacks a peaceful kingdom, kills everyone in sight, including the king and queen and kidnaps the princess. The only survivors are the brave warrior Macren and his younger brother Thonolan - an exceptional martial-artist and main hero of the game. Here is where I thought the game would be a two-player one...until Macren dies at the beginning of Sector 1. Throughout the game you navigate through forests, caverns and swamps, fighting witches, skeletons, harpies, krakens and dozens of other mythological creatures.
The game also contained and RPG element - experience points. Each time you reach a new experience level you master a new kick such as Slide Kick, Knee Drop, Roundhouse kick etc... There were about 10 different kicks you could do. And if that wasn't enough, there were also 25 different magic spells to use. And of course, let's not forget the passwords. Sure, they were too long, but still better than no save system at all.
"Kick Master" also brings a lot of memories, both good and bad. Me and my dad were out for a walk and he decided to take me to the Video-Game store and there we saw Kick Master - a 5$ cartridge (yeah, the bootleg ones cost about that much, but still I couldn't afford new games often). The guy at the store played it for a while and my dad decided to buy it for me.
We played it for a while and when I got to level 3 the game crashed. We tried again...and again...and it kept crashing.
The next day we took it to the store, I input the password and it did the exact same thing. We got our money back instantly, but to me it didn't matter, because the gift from my dad was broken... I didn't have internet access back then, so I had no idea I could look up for passwords for the following levels online and nobody else seemed to have the game. Until a classmate of mine came to me one day and said: "You like games, don't you? Well, if you write my English homework you can have this one, it's too hard for me". And he took a "Kick Master" cart out of his back-pack. I did his homework and after school I ran back home, put the password in and... IT WORKED!!
The game didn't crash or anything. Finally, I could beat it! And I did. And I loved it!
I never actually owned "Astyanax", but I had borrowed it from a friend and played it quite a lot. It was a pretty hard, but fun at the same time. If you've read my previous article you'd know that some games I played had altered titles, due to being bootlegs. This one was no exception and it was called...Golden Axe IV.
"Skeletons with swords? I use a golden axe? Yup, it is a sequel to Golden Axe." That's what I thought until a few years back.
Another thing I liked about the game was that it had cut-scenes. Sure, they weren't the best, but they still helped make the game good.
Monster In My Pocket
I'd never heard of the toys, but they were probably very popular, since they got their own video-game. And a game by Konami that is.
There wasn't much of a story, but the game was fun as hell. There were two characters to choose from - The Vampire or The Monster (whom I personally preferred) or two players could play at the same time. And that's always good, when you have brothers and sisters.
Besides the game having awesome enemies, awesome gameplay and awesome music, it also had awesome levels. The same way I loved house-hold items being the basis for a level, like in "Tom & Jerry and Tuffy", I loved it here.
You could pick-up keys and use them as weapons, you'd jump around fidges, across the table or slide down the railing of the staircase...it was just grand.
And just when you think it is over the game throws and extra surprise at you...
I'm quite saddened by the fact that I never owned this game, even though it could have been my first one.
You see, on that stormy afternoon when my dad picked me up from kindergarten and took me to the store in order to buy me a Batman game for my brand-new console this was the first game the guy in the store showed us. For some ridiculous reason (or maybe it was the red clothes and cape) everyone thought that The Vampire was actually Robin and that you could play as Batman on later levels. I remember I whispered out to my dad that I didn't think that was a Batman game (I mean how could Robin be shorter than a stereo or a key?) as to not offend the guy behind the counter. Then he showed us SunSoft's "Batman", based on the 1989 movie and we got that one. Sometime later I actually found a bootleg version of "Moster in my Pocket" called "Batman/Flash" and in that one you actually played as two Batmen - a Blue one and a Red one.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
This is a pretty tough to find game, even on a pirate cart. One day, my brother and my cousin were out shopping for games and they came home pretty excited. My bro showed me the cart he had bought with his savings and it had Velociraptors on the sticker and he loves dinosaurs. "What's this? A "Jurassic Park" game?" I asked. "Read the title", he said. And it did - "Super 1998 The Empire Stikes Back". I couldn't believe it. There was a Star Wars game for the NES? And based on my favorite of the movies too?
So I put the cart in the console and we got to hear the Star Wars theme in all its 8-bit glory.
The game doesn't have the best graphics, but it doesn't need them either. It's fun, challenging and has voice-samples from the movie. A game that talked? WOW!
Besides the blaster and lightsaber, Luke could also use different force powers and he could ride his Tauntaun on level one...and as it turned out when we got to level 2, he could also ride vehicles - Snowspeeder, X-Wing and AT-ST (Chicken) Walker.
Another huge plus for the game is how movie-accurate it is. Sure, there are elements that were never in the movie and some crucial mistakes (Luke with orange blade and Vader with a Blue one? What?!), but it also has the fight with the fake Vader on Dagobah and the Battle of Hoth (with Luke being able to grapple up to the Walkers and blow 'em up like in the movie if his ship is destroyed).
Throughout the game you also talk with Han, Obi-Wan's Ghost and Leia, but they appear only as text and picture.
Others, however, like R2-D2, Yoda and Lando get their own sprites.
It was a pretty tough game to beat. There was a very hard boss on the Dagobah level that we could never beat and one day, when I was at my cousin's I told him of a strategy I thought would work against the boss and it did. When my cousin beat him we jumped up and down in excitement and even called my brother on the phone to tell him all about it.
I have no idea why I love this game so much...I just do.
This is another game I am really sad not to own. You play as Mappy, a police-mouse who tries to recover all the goods, stolen my a cat gang, led by a fat red cat.
It was a really fun game, with good graphics and music. There was also some strategy involved - you could disarm the cats and collect the items in a particular order.
I borrowed the game from a friend quite a lot and eventually got even better than him.
Well, I guess that wraps up my "Underrated games" series. I hope you enjoyed it and that you also had the chance to enjoy any of these games.
Until next time and let the Power protect you!!