“Genre-defining” is not a term that should be thrown about lightly. Any game that truly defines a genre must have elements that, to date, were unique and special. Elements that made the game groundbreaking – that really stuck with players and made them excited to be playing the game.
Metroid has since become one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises, with speedrun competitions still raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. But its humble beginnings were in this NES title, jam packed with exploration, frustration and… something else-ation.
Lode Runner… where to begin? In this “action packed” game, you are a galactic commando, deep behind enemy lines. The evil Bungeling Empire (no, I am not making this up) have extorted a fortune in gold from the people of the galaxy with (still not making this up) excessive fast food taxes.
Ignoring the double-grey morality of robbing the government of money they earned through vice taxes, this game sucks. Despite being some sort of space commando, your only weapon is a drill pistol that can cut holes in the brick floors. These holes, however, regenerate slowly, which can kill you or the guards. And that’s the whole game.
I don’t want to waste more time on this game than it deserves. Not being able to jump in a platform game is not, I suppose, an absolute proof of poor design, but it seems to be a tell. As with Wrecking Crew, the designers realized that removing this feature could potentially leave the player unable to win a given level, and built in a failsafe that takes you right back to the level select screen simply by hitting select… instantly wiping out your score! What a great feature!
John’s Rating: 1.5 out of 5. Technically, this is a game. Technically, you can play it. I just don’t see why you would.
While the Nintendo certainly wasn’t the first video game system, during its run, video games were still a relatively new arrival to the arena of personal entertainment. The issue of media censorship as anything from necessary evil to patriotic duty still came up in the United States, and even with media-friendly video-game-loving Reagan in the White House, it was clear that combating any PR snafu would be an uphill battle.
Nintendo’s headquarters in Japan had already instituted strict guidelines for their video games prohibiting sexual imagery, but Nintendo of America took this all a step further and released strict overarching content guidelines that included things like prohibitions against depictions of domestic violence, drug or alcohol use and, most notably, religious imagery. Though exceptions were allowed for video games such as Castlevania (which has crosses), Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins and a few others that may have been intentional or may have simply slipped in under the radar, the general rule was obeyed to the extent that crosses were on some occasions removed from tombstones and other only vaguely religious depictions.
As such, a game in which you are a green monster using crosses and Bibles to combat a speedo-clad Satan would be a hard sell to say the least.
In Deadly Towers, you’re a knight or prince of some sort (it’s in the opening cinematic, I just forgot and refuse to waste my time reading it again) and everything is trying to kill you. Fortunately, you throw knives. Knives that can kill anything. Fire attacking you? Stab it until it dies! Blue orb? Stab it until it dies!
The game is, for the most part, a collection of poorly thought out or incompetently executed game mechanics. You have 100 hit points to start with, but it probably wouldn’t help you to have a million hit points. The game has mercy invincibility, for example, but it lasts for less than half a second and paralyzes and knocks you backwards in the process. If you are against the wall, the enemy hits you again immediately, and you’re doomed. If you fall off a cliff, you die, and enemies can and will push you off. And speaking of enemies, it’s also worth noting that the game has, essentially, four enemies with dozens of different skins and palette schemes. Oh, look – it’s the knight guy from the last room, only now he’s inexplicably a dragon-headed man. Oh, look – it’s another kind of bat with the exact same movement pattern as all the other varieties.
John’s Rating: 1.5 out of 5. Deadly Towers is a game that has been hailed by some as the very worst Nintendo has to offer, and while I heartily agree that the game is terrible, it sadly wouldn’t even make my top 10 list of worst Nintendo games of all time.
Few names in the video game world are associated with so rich a canonical history as “Belmont,” the surname of the vampire-hunting family from the acclaimed Castlevania series of games, and though the storied background and heroic legacy of the Belmont family has been expounded in the sequels, prequels, interquels and alternate timelines, this is where it all began.