Before I begin my next set of rental memories, I'd like to introduce you all to the Blockbuster I grew up with. My search for a picture turned out to be in vain so I'll do my best to describe it to you. Growing up, my local Blockbuster sat in the same shopping center as the city K-Mart. Across the parking lot sat a Sizzler, which was our restaurant of choice for a long time. I can still remember putting together my meal at the salad bar and gazing out the window towards blockbuster and wondering what I was gonna rent that evening. The same shopping center also housed a Little Caesar's, where we always got our pizza from long before Hot N' Ready's were around. There was also a Payless where I got all my shoes as a kid. Anyway, upon entering Blockbuster, passing the front desk left you with a choice. To the right were the Genesis games, followed by the SNES games. To the left were cartoons and other family/children related films. The new releases were in the back. I still remember seeing Dances With Wolves and JFK back there. In between were the comedies, dramas, horror, classics...etc. I still remember seeing giant cardboard cutouts for The Sandlot and The Big Green in the store. I still remember parking and seeing the Batman Returns and Terminator 2 posters displayed out front. It was a great time and as I'm sitting here writing this I can see it so clearly I'd swear I could step right into the picture in my mind. But I'll talk more specifically about the wave of nostalgia when these articles are finished. Let's get to some games, shall we? Picking up where we left off...
Like most of you, I watched a lot of The Jetsons as a kid. And though that led to my interest in this game, I didn't actually rent it myself. I'd looked at it a few times before but always went with something else instead. One night, my folks were going out for a date night and asked if they could pick me up a game while they were out. Naturally, I said that would be great but I didn't know what game specifically. I said surprise me. When they got back, they brought back The Jetsons with them. Funny thing was, I had a feeling that's what they would choose, though I couldn't tell you why. The game turned out to fun though.
I wouldn't call it a classic, but it wasn't bad. I think it's biggest issues were that it was kinda short, and kinda easy. If I remember correctly, I beat it the same night they brought it home. You played as George Jetson and he had a vacuum-ish thing for his weapon. You could suck up items and blocks which could then be shot back at foes. Using the suction, George could also climb up walls. I don't remember much about the stages or bosses other than the first boss was giant gorilla that you fought on top of a giant see-saw.
All in all, I remember enjoying the game though I didn't think it was worth owning at the time.
As much as I liked The Jetsons, I liked the Flintstones even more. And as far as licensed games go, this was one of the better ones of the time. The plot involved Fred and Barney searching for some lost treasure. (Hence the game's title;) The game played liked most 16-bit platformers at the time, but had enough of the Flinststones theme to distinguish it. The game even made use of Mode 7 with racing stages. These included foot races and vehicles. Barney and Fred went about the games various stages using clubs as their weapons. Like Goof Troop, I played this with my dad.
Something about The Flinstones I thought was cool was the way characters moved around the overhead map screen. Rather than moving directly from stage to stage, each player rolled a dice and moved ahead the corresponding amount. It always seemed like my dad got 4's and 6's, while I kept rolling 1's. My dad and I finished the game together which was very cool. I also remember right before taking it back, some friends of ours came over and I played it with their son. But whenever he started his turn, I kept insisting the level he was playing was too hard and kept taking the controller from him. Good times. ;)
Though I remember renting this game very clearly, I don't remember why. As I was doing my research for this article, I still couldn't remember what drove me to bring this home. The best I can come up with is that it was new and there was nothing else I wanted to rent at the time. But that still doesn't justify to me why I wanted to play a game where the player controlled an overweight sword-wielding pig with his belly hanging out. But alas, rent and play it I did.
Here's what I can remember; the box cover showed three different pigs, but only the fat one in the yellow shirt was playable. Even two-player mode had both players taking turns as the same character. The player had to save the kingdom from a bad guy of sorts and went through stages slashing at bad guys with his sword and collecting donuts to replenish health. It tried to be funny, but it wasn't. It was stupid, it was mediocre, and I still can't friggin' figure out why I rented it. Meh...
The Battletoads were the video game equivalent to Ninja Turtles in terms of awesomeness to my kid self. Yet I rented this game this game in hesitation, as the NES original was so hard. My fears were partially justified since during the whole time I had it, I never got past the third level. It wasn't for lack of trying though. Battlemaniacs was basically a 16-bit update of the original and since I could never beat the turbo tunnel in that game, I didn't expect to beat it on this one. The first stage was a canyon and I immediately set out to pummeling pigs. Some trial and error later, I plowed through pigs and skeletons and made it to the giant stone boss. A few deaths and I learned his pattern and beat it into pebbles. Next was the tree. Replacing the original games bungee cord with a hover board-ish device was cool and beating up giant snake creatures was intertwined with navigating through spikes. Finishing this stage led to a bonus level. This put your toad on a giant checker racing through a checkerboard, fighting rats and smacking into bowling pins for points. No sweat there. Next was the turbo tunnel and for 3 days, that's as far as I got. Time and time again, I'd reach that level and time and time again I failed.
1st player was automatically Pimple, and I was cool with that until I found out that using the second controller let you play as Rash. Pimple liked to punch but Rash was a kicker, and looked a lot cooler. I used him every time once I found out how. Despite being an updated version, Battlemaniacs is shorter than the NES original. I watched a playthrough on youtube and after the turbo tunnel is the snake pit. This is followed by a rollercoaster style stage where you are chased by a buzz saw. After that is the dark tower. I sure wish I could've made it that far back then. Cool as it was, a better Battletoads experience awaited me...
This is more like it. Battletoads/Double Dragon is one of my favorite SNES games, one of my favorite beat-em-ups of all time, and simply one of the funnest games I've had the pleasure of playing. Make no mistake, this is no hybrid of gamestyles. Despite the name, this plays purely like a Battletoads game that just happens to have Double Dragon characters in it. And that's a good thing because it meant Billy and Jimmy got to use over-the-top specials just like the toads. I especially liked getting the walker legs in the 2nd level and hammering foes into the ground like a railroad spike. Good times indeed. I also loved how big the boss sprites were, it made the battles feel epic and cool.
For a while, I stuck to using Rash because I didn't see a point to being a Double Dragon guy when I had Battletoads to pick from. I'm glad I finally did because Jimmy ended up being my best person. This is a game that I played a lot with a friend of mine named Jonathan. (He's actually the reason I played the original Battletoads.) We could play this game for hours only to come back for more. I think the farthest we got was the rocket stage where you fight Robo-Manus. This was a tough game too, but I never felt discouraged by it. I have nothing but fond memories of this game and it's still a good choice today if you're in the mood for a brawler.
Clayfighter was one of only a small handful of fighting games I ever rented. I like imagination in my games and this one gave it to me in spades. With fighters that consisted of a snowman, blob of clay, Elvis wannabe, and Viking woman, what was not to like? But underneath it's Claymation charm was a competent fighting game in it's own right. I don't think Clayfighter holds up as well as something like Street Fighter 2, but it's still a lot of fun. I don't remember having a best character, but I liked using Taffy and The Blob the most.
The only downside was that I never had anybody to play it with since nobody else in my house liked fighting games at the time. I still played the heck out of it though. I kept trying to beat the game with each character. I remember the boss of the game being kinda lame. He was a big smily face that bounced around and threw pies at you. I had the chance to play Clayfighter 2: Judgement Clay at a neighbors house and I liked that one better than the first. I was never able to rent it myself though. I do remember renting a tournament editon of the original, but I don't recall any differences between the two. Years later I rented Clayfighter 63 1/3 for the N64 and though I didn't think it was as bad as critics made it out to be, it didn't compare to the original games. This is a series that just begs for a proper reboot on next-gen console but for now it remains a pleasant memory of simpler times.
Even though I wasn't much of a rpg player, I was really excited to get my hands on Mario RPG. Turning the mushroom kingdom into a Role Playing Game? Was there nothing our favorite plumber couldn't do? Thankfully, under the guidance of RPG masters Squaresoft, Mario RPG turned out to be one of the consoles finest rpgs. Using the 3d engine from Donkey Kong Country ,the game looked great, had a brilliant sense of humor,(watching Mario mime past events to NPC's cracks me up to this day), and the story was original and engaging. That being said, back then I just didn't have the patience for RPGS. Rather than fight enemies to level up, I always tried to avoid them to get where I was going faster. Early boss battles kicked my butt as a result and my initial rental only got my as far as Bowyer at the end of the forest in the second town. I was so severely under-leveled I had no chance of beating him. Thank God for my cousin Alan. See, rpgs were practically all he played and he taught me how to play them properly. I spent a weekend at his house and we rented the game again and we played through the whole game together.
He also introduced me to the likes of Final Fantasy, Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, and just about every other rpg on SNES, and later the ps1. But I digress. I had a ball with Mario RPG and I'd love to see a proper sequel to it someday. I think Paper Mario's great and all, but I'd love to see Smithy his gang return for another go. Heck, I'd settle for a Smash Bros cameo at this point. Until then, I'll never forget the time Bowser first teamed up with Mario and Peach to save the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario RPG will always hold a special place in my heart.
The very first time I saw screenshot for the game called Super Mario World 2 was in the back of Nintendo Power. And I thought it looked stupid. I couldn't get past the cartoony look and the giant enemy filling the screen look dumb. But then I read more about the game and the games stupidity was replaced by brilliance. Looking back I don't know how I could've thought Yoshi's Island was stupid. Because the game I rented that fateful morning became one my favorite creations ever to come from Nintendo. It was the only copy blockbuster had, too! I played it off and on all day. Every time I said to myself I'd stop, I was exposed to more incredible game design.
The art looked like it was drawn with crayon. The music was haunting in the sense that it stayed in your head long after the system had been turned off. I got to world six by the first night and beat the game the following day. But remember how I said my cousin Alan and I played through Mario RPG? We rented this game again too and he showed me how to find every collectible to unlock the extra stages. It's safely downloaded on my wii u now, but those two rentals were the only time I played Yoshi's Island as kid. Yet in all the years between its managed to hold a spot on my favorite games of all time list. I just wished I would've actually bought it back then because it really is a masterpiece.
If the memory of arcade games is as dear to you all as it is to me, you'll remember that light-gun games came in two forms. The first were games like Area 51, House of the Dead, and Time Crisis where the gun was attached to a cord and you could move the gun around and aim as you pleased. The other form was where the gun was attached to the arcade machine and included games like Operation Wolf, T2: The Arcade Game, and this game. Looking back, Revolution X is a product that could have only come from the 90's. The game featured Aerosmith fighting against the new world order (aptly named the N.W.O.) run by some black-haired woman. How did you help the band battle against these legion of nastiness? A machine gun with unlimited ammo and exploding cds. It was completely ridiculous.
One part of the game even had you going through the jungle fighting tribal warriors. If I remember correctly, my 6th grade class took a field trip to Scandia (see my article The One That Got Away for more details) and I started playing this game because a kid I knew was playing it so I joined him as player 2. Sometime after that, I was at my RPG-loving cousin Alan's house and managed to convince him that I remembered this game being pretty cool and miraculously he agreed to rent it. We played through it several times on different difficulties. And I've never played it since. Dumb as the premise was, I did enjoyed the gameplay more than the T2 arcade game. And if you have a friend to play through it with, it's probably not a bad way to spend an hour or two. Especially if you're in the mood for a chuckle.
For many, this is the quintessential Ninja Turtles game. It's easy to understand why, as the gameplay was fast and tight, the time travel gimmick was cool, and who could forget how awesome it was to throw enemies at the screen to defeat Shredder?
I rented this game with a kid from my school named Casey and while I remember playing through the game multiple times, what stays with me about this rental was Casey and I staying up all night rotating between this game and Donkey Kong Country. Dumb idea. His family was going to some type of Speedway event, dirt bike racing if I remember right, and I was supposed to go with them. I was too exhausted to go with them and ended up going to bed sometime around four o'clock in the afternoon. Getting back to the game itself, I think it's great and all, but over time I've come to enjoy TMNT 3: The Manhattan Project more.
And that's it for this segment. I hope that this list has jogged your memory and brought back some good times. (Except for Power Piggs. Bleh.) It's been a blast looking back on this time in my childhood and I've hoped you've enjoyed taking this ride with me. I'd like to thank those who commented on part 1. I'll get part 3 up as soon as I can. Until then, stay retro folks. Thanks for reading.