“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.
Never send a man to do a robot’s job. Sometimes you have to fight robots with robots. A robot a day keeps Doc Wily away. Today’s game is Mega Man – the game that kicked off one of the greatest game franchises in history.
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.
In The Legend of Kage, you are a young ninja whose bride was stolen by other ninjas. You need to kill those ninjas and retrieve her so she can be kidnapped again in the bizarre ninja version of the circle of life.
Gameplay is fairly straightforward – some levels require you to move to the end and defeat a sort of one-hitpoint-wonder boss. Other levels require you to kill a certain number of ninjas. Still others require that you just scale to the top of an impossibly tall wall. Whatever the case, Unless you grab the orb-of-lets-you-get-hit-one-extra-time, you die one hit, and hits often happen arbitrarily, owing to the frequency with which ninjas throw shurikens in random direction and your (admittedly realistic) inability to control a jump after you leave the ground.
John’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5. With repetitive and painfully arbitrary gameplay, a dearth of enemy varieties, clumsy controls and poor hit detection, the Legend of Kage might be enjoyable to play through once or twice, but it wears quickly and ages poorly.
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.