The Legend of Zelda

Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Adventure

The Legend of Zelda! What can I possibly say about it that has not already been said more eloquently than I am able? The game has spawned numerous sequels that range from awesome to bizarre, (to the TRULY UNSPEAKABLE) but the original Legend of Zelda is the one that spawned it all!

This is where it all begins
This is where it all begins

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Kid Icarus

Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 1987
Genre: Platform, Adventure, Top-Scroll

As a child, I spent many an hour perusing D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, reading again and again the legends of tragic heroes such as Theseus, Achilles and Icarus. The moral of every Greek myth has always been, “No matter how awesome you are, you only need to fuck up once to ruin it all.” Kid Icarus? Pretty much the same lesson.

I have nothing negative to say about this title screen.
Wrapped in a gorgeous title screen like most Greek myths.

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Satan, Censorship and Turbo Fish in Hell

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.

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Urban Champion

Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 1986
Genre: Fighting

In Urban Champion, you play one of two apish street brawlers who punch one another for no readily discernible reason. You have two attacks, a weak on that’s quick and a strong one that sends your opponent tumbling like an extra in one of West Side Story’s musical numbers.

When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way...
When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way…

I have heard it said that tragedy is when I stub my toe and comedy is when you fall into an open manhole and die. If this is indeed the case, then Urban Champion has one of the funniest endings of all time!

Yeah, Barber Shop made me want to murder people, too.
Yeah, Barber Shop made me want to murder people, too.

John’s Rating: 2.0 out of 5.0. It’s a fun game for a very short period of time, but it lacks replayability, primarily because if you lose at this game, you probably just suck at video games.


Year: 1986
Genre: Platform – Static
Publisher: Nintendo

Pope ye, pope ye!
Pope ye, pope ye!

As you should be well aware, Miyamoto made Donkey Kong in 1981 because Nintendo couldn’t get the contract to do a Popeye game even though they had already designed it. Shortly thereafter (1982) Nintendo got the rights to do Popeye. In other words, if they had waited just one year to publish, one of two things would happen: either one (or even two) of Nintendo’s most popular franchises would have never existed, or Popeye would now be a character in the newest Super Smash Bros. game.

Pictured - the sort of hijinks that would have been knee-slapping good back in 1930.
Pictured – the sort of hijinks that would have been knee-slapping good in 1930.

This is a game wherein you are a sailor with superpowers, the source of which is eating his veggies. Your ham-fisted foe is Bluto, an engine of pure hatred so mean he had a dream he beat himself up, and if you get that reference, I’m very, very sorry. Anyway, apart from Bluto, and the occasional aggressive bird, the only thing that can kill you is not picking up absolutely everything that your stringbeany girlfriend Olive Oyl drops from the sky onto you, be it hearts (representing, I dunno, blood for a life-saving transfusion), musical notes (her magnum opus, no doubt) or letters to the word HELP (which can be caught in any order and are used to build some sort of metaphysical ladder of assistance).

John’s Rating: 2.0 out of 5.0. There’s no variety in the enemies, and the same basic patterns handily confuse the hell out of poor, stupid Bluto time and time again. There’s no challenge and nothing to look forward to except the same endless pattern of three levels. And before the obvious argument is made, please try to remember that Donkey Kong at least had little bonus bits your could pick up, more than one variety of enemy and more than one way to beat the levels. That warrants at least a one point boost.