Category Archives: Singles

Sometimes a “one-off” is the only way to get something off your chest and on to the internet. What follows is a list of articles that just don’t fit in any one particular place but deserve their right to be read.

Wait… Which Player Am I?

Sometimes people can be lazy. Usually no one is really affected by this laziness because those people typically stay at home, eating chips off the floor, and watch reruns of “Who’s the Boss?” still trying to decide who’s really the boss. But then you have some of those lazy people who produce something from their laziness. It’s especially noticeable in the retro gaming industry when deciding to create a 2 player mode. Playing games with your friends is fun right? Unless 2 player is just a lame rip off of player 1. Let’s look at some lame ass character rip offs shall we?

doubledragon

Double Dragon 2: The Revenge

Released: December 1988

Developed by: Technos Japan

Published by: Technos Japan

Player 1: Billy

Player 2: Jimmy Lee

So I don’t think they ever explained that the Double Dragons were actually twins. Or that they prefer the same hair cut, color, and style. They seem to work out at the same gym, by the same trainer, and have the same stance.

The only thing they seem to differ on is what color clothing to wear. It looks like they are either wearing jump suits or a baby’s onesies. In either matter, Billy likes Blue and Jimmy Lee likes red. You ask if they want sprinkles on their ice cream they both yes. But when it comes to coloring of clothes, not style or design, just color, the Double Dragons differ. Who in their right mind would buy a red pair of jeans anyway? Geez. Totally not fashionable.

guerrillawarfare

Guerrilla War

Released: 1987

Developed by: SNK

Published by: SNK

Player 1: Unnamed rebel commando 1

Player 2: Unnamed rebel commando 2

War is hell. War makes men out of boys. Guerrilla War decides it’s best not to color coordinate with the environment because it’s more fun to stick out like a sore thumb to the enemy than wear the same jacket from Kohl’s as your buddy. Oh the humanity!

Not only are the jackets a different color, apparently the Government has the funds to create blue and yellow helmets as well for your personal selection. The helmets and jackets have to match! You can’t have a yellow jacket with a blue helmet or a blue jacket with a yellow helmet. That’s just crazy talk! Crazy talk I tell you.

But it does give a great insight at how we treat virtual soldiers fighting for our virtual country and freedom. They’re not good enough even to have names. Just Unnamed Rebel Commando. That’s all you are, maggot! Now drop down and give me 20 while I try out these new green pants that are standard issue.

rivercityransom

River City Ransom

Released: January 1990

Developed by: Technos Japan

Published by: American Technos

Player 1: Alex

Player 2: Ryan

The streets will run red in River City as street gangs positioned by Slick combat Alex and Ryan to stop from retrieving Ryan’s Girlfriend. The cult classic River City Ransom has been met with much criticism and fans begging for sequels.

The color swap in this game is an interesting one. The game developers didn’t go for the ho-hum Red and Blue swap. They switched it up! Who wouldn’t look better in comparison in white jeans and a blue tee than his friend who just so happened to show up in blue jeans and a white tee shirt? Make the eye a little smaller so he doesn’t look scared all the time, give him the little Superman curl at the end of his hair and Boom! You’ve got a completely different person with a different set of beliefs, goals, and life lessons. Yeah… that’s how that works…

heavybarrel

Heavy Barrel

Released: 1987

Developed by: Data East

Published by: Data East

Player 1: Soldier 1

Player 2: Soldier 2

Granted, Guerrilla War and Heavy Barrel are basically the same game. Both are over head run and gun types that pits you against an unlimited amount of terrorists to shoot and destroy.

I’m guessing though, the virtual war in Heavy Barrel must be in the future because the Government now has the money to not only issue matching jackets and helmets but also pants and guns! That’s right! Does the red colored gun not match your eyes? Well, now you have your choice of red or blue! And you don’t need a helmet like the old fashion wars! No, sir! We now have the technology to provide high impact sweat bands. Sweat bands – not just for those 70s & 80s work out videos any longer. Sweat bands – the only way to fly.

smashtv

Smash TV

Released: 1990

Developed by: Beam Soft

Published by: Acclaim Entertainment

Player 1: Contestant 1

Player 2: Contestant 2

Now, let me bring you into the future of reality TV in the year 1999! That’s right. Smash TV pits two contestants in a hands-on, no-holds-barred, do-or-die adventure set in 1999! Crazy what could have been if this game would not have been made.

Not only does this game do the red and blue color swap, the creators also assumed that the second player is black. Now is that racist? I don’t think so. I believe that Williams Entertainment felt that in the year 1999, the world population would be split down the middle with race and engaging them to work together to kill their opponents with machine guns for cash and prizes at the entertainment value for society. We are almost there, world. We are almost there. Let’s make Williams Entertainment proud. Big Money!

lifeforce

Life Force

Released: August 1, 1988

Developed by: Konami

Published by: Konami

Player 1: Vic Viper

Player 2: Lord British

Swapping red and blue color schemes for co-operative game play isn’t segregated to just human-type characters. Oh, no. It’s also a guide line for space ships as well.

In Life Force, the 2 player space ship goes through a red transition from it’s player 1 counterpart and it appears to have an addition to its engine while in flight. The easiest way to create blue flames is by combining it with an element that burns blue naturally. These include: ethanol (e.g. rum, vodka), methanol, isopropyl alcohol, or natural gas. Three of those include some sort of alcohol. And after playing the game for about 20 minutes, my money is on rum. Maybe with a shot of coke. Or even better, R.C. Cola. Mmmm.

bubblebobble

Bubble Bobble

Released: 1986

Developed by: Taito

Published by: Taito and Romstar

Player 1: Bub

Player 2: Bob

Bub and Bob make their way into your home via your television set and Nintendo Entertainment System to blow bubbles… and bobble around…?

Color swapping dragons. They both have the buck tooth sticking out which proves that inbreeding is a natural way of life in the dragon kingdom. But the blue isn’t really a blue, is it? It’s more of a teal. Maybe the mommy dragon drank some food coloring? Or maybe Bob fell in a bucket of mud? Blue mud? I mean crud. There’s just no way these two are twins. But at least they tried to make some sense of 2 Player.

I don’t care what anyone says, there is nothing cute about these monstrous dragons. You think trapping enemies with bubbles and watching them get squashed is cute? It’s not. It’s frightening. And there’s nothing cute about a blue dragon. It’s unnatural. Then again, I would think a dragon that spits bubbles as an attack mechanism is unnatural as well.

battletoads

Battletoads

Released: June 1991

Developed by: Rare

Published by: Tradewest

Player 1: Rash

Player 2: Zits

MUTANT TOADS AS BATTLE MACHINES!

So, we see a ton of strange things in video games. A set of Battletoads is just another to add to the list, but Rare did something interesting here.

As you may recall, Rare developed the Battletoads series to be in direct competition with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So why wouldn’t you pit reptile against reptile?

Rather than having each “battle toad” have a different set of colored gear and sweat band, they  went full force and changed the whole spite yellow. But one of the things that always seemed strange to me is the absence of Pimple. The story always revolves around the 3 of the Battletoads battling the Dark Queen and her renegade space troops. He’s also green, by the way. Maybe that’s why. Even though the story says he was kidnapped in the first two original Battletoads games. I just don’t believe it. Do toads change their skin tone over time? Must be a mishap from how ever they became the ‘Toads.

Why Sega Consoles Were Shit Until the Dreamcast

Below is my opinion about why Sega sucked as a console game company. This is just my opinion. With that in mind, what I write here is completely true and if you don’t agree with me then you are wrong.

Sega was a main driver for coin-op and amusement games back in the 1950’s before switching over to the home video game console market in 1982 with the release of the SG-1000. But the console was released a year before the American video game market crash of 1983 where Sega shown heavy losses.

After a few companies changing hands, Sega was finally bought by CSK and renamed the company to Sega Enterprises Ltd, headquartered in Japan. A couple of years after that the company started trading stock on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Everything seemed to be going well again until…

Now, in terms of tearing Sega consoles down, I’m going to leave out the Sega Master System. This was the company’s first attempt to rejoin the home console market and no one should be at fault for their beginnings. The time was a scary one for anyone wanting to develop games and it’s only fair that they had a first good shot before trying to really compete in the market. Plus it helps my argument because they should have learned from their mistakes.

So on to why Sega consoles are shit!

1. Variations of 1 console

The Sega Genesis 1 was released in 1989. Although technical superior to the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Genesis failed to really gain momentum in the U.S. market. A lot of this is due to great advertising ventures on the part of Nintendo and the president of Sega at the time just not knowing his ass from a hole in the ground. What’s a company to do to get back into the console war? Not focus on software! Are you crazy ha ha software that’s a good one. Let’s re-release the same system 4 more times. Yeah… that’ll work…

sega genesis consoles 800x600

A. Sega Genesis 2

So rather than trying to develop better games for the console, Sega thought it would be a good idea to just re-release the Genesis. In comes the Sega Genesis 2!

So is it faster? No. Can it produce better visuals? No. Is the sound quality better? No. Just a cosmetic change. Nothing else. Does it look better than the Sega Genesis 1? Well, that’s debatable. Sure, it might look sleeker, but it lost some features from it’s predecessor. Most notably the headphone jack. The headphone jack on the console allowed the player to plug in headphones, which muted the T.V. speakers giving the player the ability to play quietly. A feature that I can guarantee all parents missed. No one wants to hear you shooting through Space Harrier especially not your tired mother who just got off the 12 hour late shift to pick your dumbass up from school only to come home, cook dinner for you and the rest of the family with no “thank you” from anyone!

B. Sega Genesis 3

Yes. There was another one. It’s so small, you can fit it in your pocket! Because that’s what you want to do with a home video game console. The reason it’s called a home console is because you are suppose to play it at home! You can literally put this system in your back pocket granted you still have those JNCO pants lying around from when you were trying to hit on that Emo chick at school.

And guess what? It’s even less compatible then the previous two. Less games work on the Genesis 3, particularly games containing the DSP chip and it’s also incompatible with the Sega CD, 32x and Power Base Converter (more shit I’ll get to in a minute). Unbelievable.

C. Sega Nomad

A portable Sega Genesis? Sounds good right? Well it wasn’t. This was just another ill faded attempt to keep the Genesis library alive because Sega feared the up coming generation of consoles and they had every right to be so. Plus it’s bulky, killed batteries, and the button set up was atrocious.

D. Sega Firecore

The Sega Firecore was released 2009! Yes. 2009. Sega was once again trying to bank on the one of the largest libraries for a gaming console one last time. The Firecore is smaller than the Genesis 3 (what? The 3 wasn’t small enough?) and is just as incompatible as the Genesis 3 was. Oh! But wait! There’s 20 built in games! Give me a break.

2. Shitty Add-ons

Sega was known for being a head of the curve. The issue with this is technology didn’t have a chance to catch up before Sega got their hands on it and tried to sell it off as an amazing add-on.

sega battleship

A. Sega CD

The Sega CD was released in 1992 as an add-on for the Sega Genesis. It could play CD-Rom based games by attaching it to the Genesis, plugging in it’s own power cable, and it’s own video cable. Yeah… all of that just to play more shitty games. CD-Roms were new even to PCs at the time and the biggest complaint was loading times. You bring that to an under powered console and the loading times almost triple. Oh, and since there was more than 1 Sega Genesis, they had to release 2 Sega CDs. One was not compatible with the other.

The technology was so new, in fact, that it didn’t have the ability to use the full dimensions of the screen for full motion video which was the point of the CD all along. It had a larger memory bank so that meant bigger and better games right? Let’s not think about moving all of that memory to the T.V. screen.

B. Sega 32X

The 32X was released for the up coming doom of the 16-bit era. The thought was more bits the better game. Even today, game companies believe that as long as the game looks beautiful it can make up for it’s short comings in the gameplay arena. They were wrong then and are still wrong today. Again, the 32x wasn’t compatible with every version of the Genesis, but you were able to use it on the Genesis 1 and 2. That’s a plus I guess. Too bad there weren’t any good games for it except for rehashes of games that were already released on better consoles and/or the PC.

3. Memorable Franchises

Everyone knows that if a console is going to survive it comes from the software. Yes, the hardware is important because if the console just doesn’t work, no one is going to make games for it. But your games have to be top notch in notoriety and popularity. These are the games that will live on longer than the console itself. These are the games that players will go out and buy every time a new iteration comes out because they are characters we are familiar with, we care about, and want to know how the story continues. And you need more than just one. One character will not push your name to the end of time. You need to develop a multiple of franchises to reach every demographic. No, you won’t hit them all, but you will give your players a choice. And they have to be worth playing.

nintendo vs sega

This took me longer to do than to write the actual article ha ha

Now take a second and really look at the image above. How many of the Nintendo characters can you name compared to the number of Sega characters you can name. Now, if you can name all of them then you are a true retro gamer and I award you 10 Viking points. If you named more Nintendo than Sega, you sir (or madam) are a typical video game player. If you named more Sega than Nintendo then you are a Sega fan boy and let the flame war begin! And if you can’t name any of them, there’s really no reason for you to be on this blog. I mean, I’m not that pretty looking…

But really, the only Sega franchise that made anything of its self was Sonic and maybe Phantasy Star to some degree. And just like Mega Man, they whored Sonic out to every venue they could get their hands on. Now, some of you could say that Nintendo followed the same path with some if not most of their franchised faces, but there was one thing that Nintendo did differently that Sega did not. Well, I don’t know if I can tell you. It’s kind of a secret. OK, you’re cool, I guess I can trust you… OK… here it is… THE GAMES WERE GOOD!

3. Sega Saturn shenanigans

The Sega Saturn was released on May 11, 1995 a whole 4 months before the legendary “Saturnday” that never came to be. Again, the Saturn on a technical stand point was leaps and bounds ahead of it’s competition. But there was one thing that really brought the system down, at least in my opinion. And it shows that the previous point really hits the mark.

No Sonic Sega Saturn

1. No Sonic pack-in

Sonic was named the mascot of the Sega Corp back when the Genesis was released. And let’s face it, he was way cooler than Mario (and continued to be until Smash Bros was released. That game is something else.)

But how can you decide as a company not to pack in a game that features your mascot? Your leading 1st party franchise? When Nintendo decides to release a new console, the first game that’s tested and released is a Mario game (sans the initial release of the Wii, but now the New Super Mario Bros is a pack-in). How, in good conscious, can you believe that to demonstrate your fantastic new piece of hardware on any other game than your pride and joy? Your milk and honey? Your… hookers and blow…? I don’t know where that can from.

2. Early release

Just thought of another reason that caused Sega to fail with the Saturn: they gave up. Just gave up. Hey guys, it’s not working… the games are few and far between… people are complaining about price… Nintendo… Mario… blah blah blah. Fuck it, let’s make another one!

If you invest time, money, and a shit load of people into a project, you don’t just pull out the second things go awry. You bite down, grip it, and ride it till the end. I mean, come on, Sega is one of the notorious for arcade gaming. It’s not like one failed system is going to sink the company. It takes time to sink a company that big. Even with all of the shit they’ve released after the death of the Dreamcast, they are still running. And they will continue to run. Because all and all, Sega is pretty kick ass when there’s not some jackass making decisions.

Final Thoughts: Could Sega retain their rightful place at the top?

Yes… but it’ll never happen. You know as well as I do we are not lucky enough to have a Dreamcast 2 in our life time. But I’ll tell you this, from the talks and trends I’ve been seeing in the game market, physical media will be a thing of the past in the next “next” generation. All of our games will be downloaded over the space waves and onto a dedicated disk on the console itself.

If Sega would look at the industry for just a moment they would realize that there is a market for physical media. There’s a market for “real” gamers who take initiative to actually sit down and play games. Evaluate it, rate it, and if it’s worth it, recommend it to others. Not play it for five minutes, short attention spanned, and trash it.

Sega could have a great come back by being the “other” video game console. And if that happens, I will be the first in line to pre order. But it better have a Sonic pack-in.

Internet Killed Console Gaming–Point 2

 

Oh, Internet… It’s a love and hate relationship. I’ve become so tied to the Internet, like most of us, and it’s hard to live in a life where you don’t exist. I also can’t stand what you’ve done to one of my most precious loves: console gaming. There’s nothing like hooking a system up to my T.V., holding that controller pad in my hands for the first time and wasting away in the glow from the television set for hours on end. But you have to stop!

Point 2 – Broken games

nes360

I’m a firm believer that it’s about the game play not the graphics which decides the top performers in the gaming world. Shiny cutting edge graphics are no match for great story telling and compelling character arches. You can have the faster processors and load times, but I will not play it if the game just down right sucks. And the Internet has allowed more of these shitty games through the gates with the idea that “We’ll make it better!”

A.

The Internet has made game developers of all kinds lazy. They release broken games with slapped together physics just so they can hit their delivery date to get full exposure for important dead lines such as a system launch date. By doing so, we as gamers, are now teaching these corporations that it’s OK if your game is broken, we will wait for updates and sometimes, even pay to get them. What has become of us?

A perfect example is the newly released The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. Developed by Bethesda Game Studios, Skyrim quickly become the number 1 game at the top of many reviewers charts. The crowd was unanimous: this is an amazing game. Or is it?

Released on November 11, 2011, the first patch was made available for download on November 29, 2011. 18 days after the game was released to stores. 18 days! Now, what did the patch do? Well let’s see what the book of knowledge has to say:

Patch 1.2 was released on November 29, 2011 to fix some of the game’s issues;however, some players reported new bugs in the game following the patch, including more frequent game crashes.

wikipedia.org

18 days after it’s initial release, the game was already broken to the point of the system crashes deeming it completely unplayable. What happened? Well, I will admit that Skyrim is a fucking huge game. I’m talking big. But, the thing you need to remember is that this is the fifth in the series. This is not the first game released by Bethesda Game Studios. With the reputation they have created for themselves, they are vets even gods among game developers. 18 days… it only took players 18 days for them to realize that the game was broken to the point of it being unplayable.

So, they released a patch. To fix things. But that didn’t help. So they released 5 more patches to get the game into fighting shape, the last of which was pushed out on March 20, 2012 again to fix the bugs and system crashes. To me, this shows that Bethesda released a broken game, an unfinished product, a worthless attempt to get my money.

My point is, if the game isn’t ready to be released then don’t release it. There’s a reason that every game company has play testers. They are there to find issues with a game that wouldn’t be found by someone who is making the game.  A new set of eyes if you will. Now, I’m not saying that these play testers will find “every bug imaginable” but if it’s crashing your system… that’s a problem… especially if they need to release 5 different patches to fix the problem. Only with the ability of the Internet can a game company get away with this and make it the norm.

If you have the ability to fix an already released product months if not years after it’s release date, then where is the bar? What would stop a company from releasing a game that just consists of an environment and few if not any actually playable game aspects? I mean, couldn’t the definition of a game be ripped down to just an avatar running around on the screen with no real objectives? Anything is possible.

The lack of updates throughout the life of a video game has forced some game developers in the past to really go that extra mile to do something amazing… Case in point —

B.

Final Fantasy

250px-FF1_USA_boxart

Some of you have heard of a small company called Square (now known as Square Enix). But a few of you may not know that Square was, at one point,  becoming a distant memory. Yes, they were at their wits end ready to call it quits.

Square was at the bottom of the barrel with it came to video games back in the mid to late 1980s. They just couldn’t put anything together to turn a profit. They had one more game in them and if it didn’t work out, well… that was it. Close the doors, pack up all of the Japanese porn and call it quits. It was literally their “Final Fantasy”.

The idea came from a similar company called Enix (which they ended up purchasing, I’m sorry “merging” with later in 2003). The game was called Dragon Quest: an RPG for the Nintendo Famicom. It was a hit, but Square thought they could do it one better. Final Fantasy was released in December 1987. It spawned many squeals and is easily the only reason why Square still exists.

Now, let’s fast forward to today. With all of the technology we have available, what would be of Square if they decided to start today? If those dead drop games they released before Final Fantasy were able to be updated, to fix bugs, in short, to make the game better, would Final Fantasy ever be? Without getting too philosophical, yes, someone down the road would have created the game sooner or later. But would it have been Square? Probably not. Because they weren’t faced with that moment of terror that could close them down forever. They didn’t have the ability to fix a crappy game like game devs do today. Once it was released it was up to the players to decide if the game be worthy or not. If not, that was it. No second chances. Nothing. You’re done. Thanks for playing.

Let’s look at today’s games. What if a company, that released a crappy game, who now has the chance to fix it a second time, does instead of scraping the entire project and go for something different? We’ll never know for sure what amazing games we could be playing other than the 20th version of Call of Duty. But I can tell you, you back someone into a corner with one last chance, the possibility of doing something wonderful and beautiful is more likely than not. Think about that…

Join me for point 3 where I discuss the losing game of…. TROLLS!

Point One

Internet Killed Console Gaming — Point 1

 

The Internet (it is capitalized right?) has killed console gaming forever. It wasn’t something that the causal gamer saw coming, and in fact, very few gamers of any age can really see the implications of how gaming was infected and destroyed by the Internet.

Point 1: Physical Media

Classic_Game_Carts_by_NoSmokingBandit

Ew… gross… what are those disease carrying, oddly shaped things?

Those, my ignorant gamer of the future, are called “game cartridges”. Those use to be how we played games. They weren’t beamed down from a space station, through your body, to your T.V. set. No, the information was placed on these “carts”, we plugged the “cart” into the game system and played until our hearts content.

This might sound silly now, but I’m telling you, in no more than twenty years from now, no major game company will think about the possibility of placing their cutting edge game on any kind of physical media. Physical media has some major flaws that a business doesn’t want to be apart of anymore.

A:

netflix-wii

I have to buy them again!? But I can get the cart for $2 at my local game shop!

It’s a one time buy – Companies don’t want you to purchase their content once. They want you to purchase it as many times as possible. A game cart, if taken care of, can last the life of the player. Look at the some of the oldest games that are available at your local game shop (i.e. Atari 2600 games). These carts are decades old, but with care, they will still function. This is bad news for companies. The media has to be disposable, forgotten about, or unreliable so that, years down the road, when you want to play that “retro game for the Xbox 36o” you will have to buy it again via an software download.

Look at the popularity of the Xbox Arcade, Playstation Network, or Nintendo’s Wii Shop Channel. The games that are on these services already exist in one if not multiple versions stretch across many consoles and PC set ups. Game consoles you probably already own, maybe even the game itself, but people will buy it yet again for many reasons: convenience, minor updates typically in a graphical nature, rare if not impossible find, etc. The issue with this is that we are feeding the monkey. And it’s not a nice monkey. It’s an evil, evil monkey. By buying into this program, we are telling these game companies that it’s OK to release the same game year after year with little to no incentive to us and we will keep on buying.

B:

Stacks_of_money

Money – placing any kind of information on a disk, whether it be a cartridge or compact disc, is expensive and prone to failure over time. After coping so many discs with the same application, there is always a testing phase to make sure that the games actually work on the console.

Now you might be thinking, well I can get 50 CD-Rs for 10 bucks surely a major corporation can get a better deal on media than I can and I’d say you were right. And they more than likely add that additional cost into the price of the game itself at the point of purchase. But if we are so use to paying $50 and $60 dollars for the latest Xbox 360 game, why would we shake a stick at paying the exact same amount for the same game only to have it downloaded to a hard disk that’s attached to your console? With the blazing speeds that are available for the internet now-a-days including broadband and fiber optics, to download a 4 GB video game would be done in minutes not hours like in the past. Which would cut their production of developing a physical media all together. Less work means less workers means more money in the business’s pocket. Because the games sure as hell won’t cost less.

This type of model has been around for ages really pushed through by Apple’s iTunes app. Here’s my story. Many years ago, I purchased an album from iTunes that was recorded locally and was no longer in production for a physical copy. A few years later, my iPod had crapped out on me, so I went back into iTunes to download the album again. To my amazement, I had to purchase it again since so much time had gone by. But I bought it already didn’t I own it? No. I didn’t. Most digital media that is purchased online is actually only being “rented” from the company for an unknown amount of time. Meaning, if I lost my copy, I will have to buy another.

Now, this is similar to a physical copy as well in some small cases. If I own the CD, and I lose it, I no longer have that copy and I will have to purchase a new one. The difference is I have the ability to make a software “back-up” copy of the hard copy for just this case. Now, the laws of copyright can be read in either direction pertaining to “back-ups” but at the time I was allowed to have one backed up copy of any physical data that I owned.

Apple, and many other companies, use a security called DRM or Digital Rights Management that will only allow you to have one copy of the medium. You are not legally allowed to copy that DRM media from one source to another. Many other companies and just about everyone else is against this model of security but that doesn’t stop deep pocket companies from using it. And the only advantage is to the company not to the user.

In part two, I will be discussing the issue that has cropped up with console games that are just down right broken and how it’s considered “OK” now to release such titles.

Stay tuned!

Point Two

How to Fix Shitty Games–Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure

 

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.

220px-Bill_&_Ted

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

titlebillted

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

 

First Impressions

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.

LJN_logo

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

Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure (2)

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

Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure-2

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

72796-bill-ted-s-excellent-video-game-adventure-nes-screenshot-arrived

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.

72796-bill-ted-s-excellent-video-game-adventure-nes-screenshot-arrived_smaller

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.

5. Direction

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.

bat_strange

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.

72796-bill-ted-s-excellent-video-game-adventure-nes-screenshot-arrived_compass

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.

Final Thoughts

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.