Athletic World

Publisher: Bandai
Year: 1987
Genre: Power Pad

Do you own a Power Pad? The answer to that is, “No, you do not own a power pad because no one does.” The Power Pad was part of an insidious plot to convince us to use video games as a way of staying fit and healthy. How stupid is that? So stupid that DDR made huge amounts of money off the idea. So stupid that all three major game systems of the 21st century are courting that same fitness nut “gamer” crowd through motion sensing cameras and motion capture controllers. So stupid that Pokémon Go is the most popular mobile game of all time. It’s all part of conspiracy to make gamers use games as exercise, and it finds all its roots here.

Family "Fun" Fitness
Family “Fun” Fitness

Without a Power Pad, this game is a dull button masher. WITH a power pad, this game is a dull excuse to not go outside because you can get all the energy you need staring at a TV.

I "won," but at what cost?
I “won,” but at what cost?

John’s Rating: 0.0 out of 5.0, because I don’t have a power pad, and I’m not going to get one, and you can’t convince me that I’m making a poor life decision.


Publisher: SNK
Year: 1987
Genre: Platform

The gods must be crazy retarded. Athena is a game about the Greek Goddess of Wisdom a princess and her quest to rid the land of evil make really stupid life decisions.

Athena, pictured here having a mild stroke.
Athena, pictured here having a mild stroke.

The plot begins with her opening Pandora’s Box the Door Which Shouldn’t Be Opened at Mount Olympus Victory Castle, leading her to enter the Underworld Fantasy World to battle some evil guy named Dante… no wait, that last one’s right.

At least her best armor isn't a chainmail bikini.
At least her best armor isn’t a chainmail bikini.

John’s Rating: 1.5 out of 5.0. Athena jumps a randomly determined height when you hit A. Let me say that again – you jump a randomly determined height when you hit A. It doesn’t matter how long or short you hold the button, Athena either jumps very high or makes a tiny near-useless hop. Nothing I can figure out influences which one it will be. That alone would be a game-breaker, but it also suffers from obnoxious music, poor hit detection and a collection of nearly useless weapons that replace your useful weapons if you so much as look at them wrong. Oh, and levels have no check points. You’re welcome.

As a final note, I know that the first two games by SNK were phenomenally lousy, but they really were a great company, and in upcoming releases, I will be able to sing their praises rather than cursing their name.


Publisher: Taito
Year: 1987
Genre: Breakout Clone 

Every day, people in the civilized world encounter, at bare minimum, four walls (presuming they have a coffee can in their bedroom to poop in), and you know what? Sometimes, we don’t like it. Sometimes, a man just has to say, “You know what, Mr. Wall? Who the hell are you to come into MY house and tell me which of MY rooms are partitioned from one another?” For those of you who, like me, have found themselves injuring some portion of their anatomy in a furious tequila-fueled attempt at libero cubiculum, Arkanoid may well prove to be the cathartic experience you need.

"Hey, kid - wanna eff up some walls?"
“Hey, kid – wanna eff up some walls?”

Continue reading “Arkanoid”

Alpha Mission

Publisher: SNK
Year: 1987
Genre: Top-Scroll Shmup

Space Shooters are a staple genre of the NES. You might recall me giving Gradius the first perfect score of this blog, so I’m certainly not biased against them. Shmups, as they are sometimes called, have represented a huge slice of the gaming pie – and a rather delicious slice at that!

Grape and peach - delicious!
Grape and peach – delicious!

Having said that, there are certain qualities I expect in a space shooter. The first is variety – repetition is a huge game killer for any sort of Shmup, so a large variety of environments and enemies is a must. The second is graphic consistency – if a game takes itself seriously, it should make an effort to do so throughout the entire experience, keeping powerups – for example – looking like part of the environment rather than annexes to the games graphic library. The third is a aesthetic quality – the audio and visual experiences should be unobtrusive if not pleasant. Alpha Mission is a generic space shooter example of not working very hard on any of this.

Polygons. Polygons everywhere.
Polygons. Polygons everywhere.

John’s Rating: 2.0 out of 5.0. The only thing that stands out about this game to any meaningful degree is how annoying the music is. Beyond that, it’s pure vanilla paste.

The 3D Battles of World Runner

Publisher: Square
Year: 1987
Genre: Action

It might surprise you to know that 3D imagery achieved through stereoscopy dates back to before the American Civil War. Yes, it’s true: 3D images have existed for nearly two hundred years now. So while the relatively new 3DS has garnered considerable hype, it should come as no surprise to even the youngest most naive reader that it is neither the first 3D Game System, nor the first example of 3D games.

But it does have the most elaborate title screen to date. So that's something.
But it does have the most elaborate title screen to date. So that’s something.

Continue reading “The 3D Battles of World Runner”