Well, to be honest, the Nintendo’s release titles do not, for the most part, stand the test of time. Hell, to be honest, we only played some of them because they were the only video games available for the system, and we sure as hell couldn’t go back to the ATARI 2600 after seeing graphics that consisted of multiple pixels in different colors.
The Nintendo Entertainment System was probably the most important achievement of 1985! Forget Reagan meeting Gorbachev and all that other Cold-war-era BS! The Nintendo was where it’s at!
Going onward from here, we have a lot more games to cover each year, and I intend to give full reviews only to those that deserve it. For most of them (those rated less than 4 and not awful or significant enough to warrant further exposition), I’ll just give a couple sentences and a screencap. For some of them, it’s far, far more than they deserve.
I skipped this in my alphabetical listing because, frankly, I wanted to finish 1985 with a game that did not suck. Super Mario Bros. spawned the most successful video game franchise in history. You noticed I didn’t say, “probably” or “one of” anywhere in that sentence, and it isn’t because I am biased (though I probably am): Mario is, empirically speaking, the greatest video game franchise of all to this day. Though its impressive 40 million units sold is due, in no small part, to it being bundled with the console, many of the sequels continue to be worldwide best-sellers to this day. To this day. When I say “to this day” I mean “it still moves preposterous numbers of units when sold without any changes on virtual console.”
I could go on gushing about this. I could wax eloquent about Mario’s origins, his first appearance, or any of that crap that people talk about when Mario is presented in a blog. In fact, I think I will.
Year: 1985 Publisher: Nintendo Genre: Puzzle Action
Back in 1985, someone at Nintendo decided that it would be a great idea to have a Mario game wherein Mario cannot jump. Probably the sensible thing to do with someone who made that suggestion is to sit them down circle-time style and explain to them that when Mario was introduced, his name was actually “Jumpman,” and that if Nintendo hadn’t been late with the rent payments, they wouldn’t have ever thought to name him Mario. Then, in full sight of all the other employees, that employee should have been shot in the back of the head and left there as an example.
Year: 1985 Publisher: Nintendo Genre: Shooting – Zapper
If a certain “certified sane” Floridian lawyer is to be understood and believed, the Nintendo Zapper was, for many children, their first taste of murder and a gateway to the immoral video-game-playing lifestyle. Thus, Wild Gunman was, without a doubt, the first TRUE Nintendo murder simulator, allowing us to finally live out our depraved fantasy of being an officer of the law and bringing violent felons to justice.
Also, as previously mentioned, when I was a child, the thought of actually shooting a duck was anathema to me. Outlaws and cowboys, on the other hand, were the bread and butter of the “pretending to shoot things” set. If this game had some vastly simplified caricatures of native Americans drawn almost exclusively from stereotypical depictions of the plains Indians, we’d have the triune exemplars of an entire (remarkably brief) era!
Ok, so I admit a bit of bias – as a child I never wanted to be a contemporary police officer (what with the movies depicting drug lords as unstoppable forces with machineguns and real life appearing to confirm this), I would have gladly been the sheriff of a silver mining town, because the movies showed you exactly what to expect from the outlaws: a gun identical to yours in every meaningful way. (Note: I know the “Wild West” wasn’t actually that way, but I choose to ignore this fact because it is boring.)
Now, these days, this sort of thing is mini-game fodder: the kind of thing that gets rolled into another game because, heck, why not? Heck, Kirby’s Adventure (a review for another time) has a Wild-Gunman-esque mini game, and that was still Nintendo era. Back in the day, though, simpler crappier games than this would claim a month’s worth of a child’s allowance and entertain him for hours. Simpler times, my friends, simpler times…
The standard mode is a showdown where you are forbidden to shoot until your opponent draws. (As a child, I always wondered why you couldn’t be the one who gets to draw first, mostly because I was pretty sure the zapper worked on MAGIC and would KNOW when I pointed it at the screen, but I digress). Once you’ve mastered that, and you will (unless you have the reflexes of a sea slug) you can upgrade to two outlaws, which is probably a little more than twice as hard. Finally, when you think you’ve tackled that, you can take on a whole gang of outlaws who appear, shooting-gallery style, in the various windows and entryways of a saloon.
I think that the most important thing to note about this game is that it’s all in how you play it. Sure, you could sit there, Zapper in hand, ready to fire the moment the game indicated that it was your turn to draw, but that completely ignores the opportunity for self-imposed challenge that this game represents. As far as I’m concerned, you aren’t actually playing Wild Gunman unless you tuck the Zapper into the waistband of your pants and stand in front-facing horse stance, taunting your computerized opponent until the screen barks “DRAW!” and you whip out your sixgun to make mincemeat of the outlaws! YEAH!
John’s Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0, though I anticipate a veritable shitstorm for daring to rate this as high as both Hogan’s Alley and Duck Hunt. Frankly, this game provides more atmosphere and an opportunity for a bit of role-playing that I didn’t really find in either of those games. The only thing it lacks is some sort of two-player mode, which makes sense because, frankly, how the heck would you pull that off?
Year: 1985 Publisher: Nintendo Genre: Sports – Tennis
I believe that, since my childhood, there has been not only a general tendency to make games easier (which is super-good) but also a dumbing down of expectations. Players were once required to control every aspect of the game’s interaction, whereas now there exist a good many games that take parts that would have once fell out of the player’s purview out of their hands. Take, for example, the Nintendo version of Tennis vs. the analogous Wii Sports subgame.