Publisher: SNK Year: 1987 Genre: Shmup, Top-Scroll Old school top-down shooters are pretty generic – endless waves of faceless enemy drones trying to stall your efforts as you steadily plow your way across the battlefield. They’re more notable in their differences than their similarities. Ikari Warriors is one of the first, and has a number of features that worked very well, and others that were, perhaps, not so well considered.
I’ve long held that pro wrestling games would be more realistic if instead of inputting attack combos, each player had to input a “cooperation combo” to perform the moves in such a way that it looks realistic and no one gets seriously hurt. Sure it might not be quite as entertaining as a frantic button-mashing fest, but it would more accurately mirror real professional wrestling. In the case of this game, however, such a system would almost certainly be more entertaining. Frankly, it would be hard-pressed to be less entertaining.
The game has one game mechanic – you punch your opponent. Then, you input a direction and your wrestleman does a move based on that. Back and forth like this until someone can pin someone. There is nothing more to this game, and nothing interesting happens the entire time.
John’s Rating: 1.0 out of 5.0. This entire game – 100% of it – boils down to who punches who first. Positioning is largely irrelevant. The presence of a tag partner in no way changes the dynamic. Moves don’t have different chances of success or allow varied escapes. It’s just punch, lock, lather, rinse, repeat.
Publisher: Nintendo Year: 1986 Genre: Static Platformer (Not to be confused with Super Mario Bros.)
We’ve already spoken of the origin of Mario and the glory that is Super Mario Bros., so it seems almost redundant (or ill-placed) that the prequel should come after the original, and yet – here we are, looking at Mario Bros., the game that introduced Segale’s digital doppelgänger to the world.
Publisher: Bandai Year: 1986 Genre: Fighting AKA: Tag Team Match MUSCLE M.U.S.C.L.E. is an awful, ungodly little wrestling game based on a line of tiny vinyl inaction figures based on some Japanese series that, as far as I can tell, is a parody of Mexican masked wrestling. I didn’t delve much deeper than that, so knowing how anime usually turns out, they’re probably actually magical schoolgirls who transform into tiny vinyl figures to time travel and do battle with a vile alliance of Mark Twain and James Joyce in a literary showdown to decide the fate of the world. Wow, that sounds vastly more interesting than this game.
The actual gameplay involves moving around on screen, attacking your opponent, and doing nothing whatsoever of substance or interest. Seriously, nothing about this game is fun, clever or well-made. If M.U.S.C.L.E. is a parody of Mexican masked wrestling, the game is a parody of video games.
According to Wikipedia, the original Japanese game had a Nazi character named Brocken Jr., whose finisher was called the “Nazi Gas Attack.” He was replaced with a native American character called “Geronimo,” presumably to keep the theme of genocide without celebrating the perpetrator.
John’s Score: 1.0 out of 5.0. This game is so shitty that it insults shit to call it shitty. Not to sound overly like the Angry Nintendo Video Game Nerd here, but the game is terminally bland, chronically glitchy and, even if everything goes according to plan, duller than watching paint dry.
The NES isn’t really well-suited for one-on-one fighting bouts as this game succinctly demonstrates. Mind you, the NES can do way WAY better than Karate Champ with its clumsy (at best) hit detection, its tiny generic move list and its unpleasant graphics. The controls, B to attack left and A to attack right, will be recycled in Double Dragon II, where they will not suck. This awful game didn’t deserve anything that useful anyway.
The game does not find any redeeming quality in the presentation. The sound and music are terrible, but in a forgettable way. The graphics are ugly, jerky and look rushed, like someone with some talent struggling to make something in a medium they have never used – just good enough to be annoying. Somewhere between adequate and inadequate.
John’s Rating: 1.0 out of 5.0. This is just awful. It’s vaguely reminiscent of the much better game Barbarian, which was sadly never ported to the NES. Except, where Barbarian features awesome swords and vicious bloodthirsty barbarians dueling to the death for bikini-clad babes (not to mention a useable control scheme with moves that were of varying utility), Karate Champ has a constipated old man watching people in bathrobes kick each other.