I’m a firm believer that there are many games out there that are just bad. Really bad to the point where there is no fun in even playing them because of design, game play, or plot flaws. A lot of these “bad” games can be enjoyed with fairly easy fixes. Below is one of those games that can easily be fixed so that the game is some what enjoyable.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a 1989 American science fiction comedy buddy film and the first film in the Bill & Ted franchise in which two metalhead slackers travel through time to assemble a menagerie of historical figures for their high school history presentation.
The film was written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon and directed by Stephen Herek. It stars Keanu Reeves as “Ted” Theodore Logan, Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and George Carlin as Rufus. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure received reviews which were mostly positive upon release and was commercially successful. It is now considered a cult classic. A sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, was released two years later. An untitled third film is in development. — wikipedia.org
A Little History
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure is an action-adventure video game that is part of the Bill & Ted franchise and is based on the film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure that was released in North America by LJN for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991. The game’s plot is not an adaptation of the movie, but rather serves as an original continuation to the film’s events. – wikipedia.org
Let’s face it. This game is terrible. I mean one of the lowest of the low, a fierce competitor for E.T. on the 2600. OK, it’s not that bad but this game is pretty bad. The controls are loose, the physics don’t make any sense, and you have no idea what the hell you’re doing. How is any child who was a fan of the movie (I know you’re out there) suppose to enjoy such a horrible game? Tell me. You can’t. You just can’t.
The first dead give away is the publisher for the game.
Now I’m not going to go into rants like AVGN, but he makes a valid point about LJN. Their shit games to passable games ratio is extremely high in the shit department. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get down to what can be fixed to make this game better.
1. The Intro
I love intros to games. I mean, how else are you suppose to know what’s going on in the game if you don’t watch the intro? Especially in this day and age where actually manuals for these retro games are hard to come by unless you are willing to spend a little more on a CIB. Intros are great. It gets everyone on the same page.
I have no issue with a game, that’s based off a movie, not follow the story line of the movie itself. This can end up being either a good or bad thing. It’s OK in this case. But the issue lies in the length and the lack of an option to bypass the story at the beginning. It’s nothing but text with the stupid lingo that I’m guessing was popular at the time. Lots of “dudes”, “dudettes” and “bogus” which does get annoying after a while.
So how does this get fixed? Well how about allowing the intro to the game to play while the player is sitting idle. Not a huge fix, but these sort of small things actually do make the game play speed up and allow the gamer to do what the game was intended to do after all which is to play it. And make the intro something that I would want to watch. Don’t hold me up on long and boring intros every time I reset it.
2. Phone book
Now this one is one of the biggest things that kills the game for me. The phone book has a list of phone numbers (well duh right?) that corresponds to a particular figure in history.
So what’s wrong with this picture? Well, what the hell am I suppose to do? There’s nothing but black around those edges. No “Press Select to enter a phone number”. No, “The one with the flashing number is the one you need to enter”. No nothing. Now, since I do not own the instruction booklet, it may very well be in there that explains what I’m suppose to do. Which is something the game designers weren’t anticipating. I can let that slide. I mean, nowadays with the internet, who needs these books, but back in the day, that was your only source of true information because you sure as hell weren’t going to listen to the fat know-it-all kid down the street tell you what to do in the game. No way no how.
I mean there’s just nothing. The book itself looks great in all it’s pixel glory. The character sprites have a unique look to them and you can tell what it is. I just don’t know what the hell to do.
Since the NES controller has only so many buttons, that after trial and error you’d figure it out. The flashing number is the number to dial. But it’s only after trial and error that you figure this out. And after having to sit through the fucking intro, you’re all ready set to kill this game with fire.
GIVE ME SOME INSTRUCTION ON WHAT TO DO NEXT. THIS ISN’T A SEQUAL. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE BUTTONS DO BASED OFF A PREVIOUS GAME. SOMEONE HELP ME PLEASE!!!1!!11!
So yeah, just add some informational text around the border will clear that up.
3. Pointless game aspects
What the hell is going on? I mean, really? If you are making me play this stupid “mini-game” because you couldn’t think of a better way to add the actual time travel in the game, then stop it. Just stop it right there. This whole part of the game is pointless and I have no idea what anything means. Are you going to take away 5 coins if I land in the 5 coin circle? I know I lose money when I land in the skull circles because that’s a worldly ideal: skulls = bad. And it has to be coins because I don’t have 5 of anything else.
But seriously? You couldn’t think of a better way of adding time travel to the game? If not, then don’t put it in. Just bypass the whole thing. I don’t remember Bill or Ted ever getting stuck in the “circuits of time” because they ran out of money.
Coins? So you were able to think ahead on the money idea. Well, a phone call will probably cost more than a quarter in the future so let’s just call them coins. If you thought that, you should have thought that no one would hold on to a tiny ass booklet that tells you exactly what to do screen by screen then either.
Just take it out. It’s not any fun. Give me a sweet ass animated graphic of going through space and time with Bill and Ted saying something like “Dude, this is totally wicked.” “Yeah, Dude, but it’s making me totally sick at my stomach.”
I can relate.
4. Inviting graphics
What am I looking at,you asked? Well it’s a lot of green. That’s it… Just a lot of green. Too much green. Way too much green.
Either give me something more pleasing to look at or get it out of my view. What to know how you fix this bit? Look below.
Ahhh, so much better. Oh what’s that over there? Oh it’s a tree. Well that’s nice. Oh and a fence. Much more pleasing to look at. Yeah, all I did was crop out the crap you don’t have to see anyway. Most of the graphics on the outside of the “gaming area” is off limits anyway. You can’t walk over there. You just can’t. The game won’t let you. It just wants you to look, don’t touch, and the rest of the area is just a lot of puke green to enjoy. Yeah, I like it better this way too.
Now the graphics don’t have to blow my mind. I’m not expecting Final Fantasy or huge sprites like Final Fight. But something better than what you’re giving me. Give me some detail in the grass. Give me more than just one type of rock. Give me something. Put a fucking clown in there I don’t care. Well, I guess, a clown wouldn’t work for the time period, but a Jester would. Or some cattle grazing on the luscious non-existent grass. Something that’s not green.
So, you start the first level, and pat yourself on the back for that because we’ve lost 50 percent of the players all ready. But what do you do? Well you walk around talking to people. But they give you some of the most pointless information.
So… is it strange good? Strange bad? Which way is south? Heard something? Like from a person or an inanimate object? If you heard some from a tree then yes that it strange. What was it? Why won’t you tell me? I’ve got nothing.
You see this throughout most of the game. The game calls these “hints”. There is nothing there that I would call a hint. First, he says that he heard something. OK, but from whom? Someone important? Someone that I care to talk to?
Plus where is south? There’s no map, no indicator of where I am exactly in the level. These levels are actually pretty large to say the lest. To give just a general direction in a space where direction doesn’t technically exist, which way is south? How about this: “I’ve heard something strange can be found down south past _________” then give me a landmark. Like the pastor, or the dueling knights. Fucking something! I just need a little more information. Unless you’re going to give me a map.
Oh well, won’t you look at that. I know where I am because of this handy map I have and well look at that! A compass. Now I know which direction I’m going in. Man, this is going to be a fun adventure. I can’t wait to start talking to people and discovering the secrets of this level. Gee whiz. I hope they make a sequel because I’m already having a blast.
It’s games like this that make me sad. It just missed the turn. Even if this game wasn’t a hit (which it wasn’t) if the engine would have been designed good enough, another game dev could have taken it and made something great with. Something original; something fun. This game is not fun.
So, for those who know how to program, do me a favor: make this game fun. Because I truly believe that a game like this would be great. It was be a great mix between action and RPG. There’s zero violence in this game. I mean you throw pudding cups at enemies to ward them away. How awesome is that? But the train was missed. Thank you, LJN and your rainbow of shit.