Tag Archives: nes

Monster in my Pocket – Review a Great Game Day

Monster In My Pocket (U) [!]-1

Licensed video games. Just think about that for a second. Licensed video games. For most of us, a cold chill from scenes of Beetlejuice, Back to the Future and Friday the 13th that haunted as children and for some, still today, creeps down our spines.

There are a few of those titles that still hold supreme though: Batman, Gremlins 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. Plus I’m happy to say that licensed games have really taken a big leap forward in terms of quality, gameplay and sadly, basic game mechanics. Something us retro gamers were not privy to that in the olden days.

Monster In My Pocket (U) [!]-3

These licensed games weren’t subjected just to movies and cartoons. In an era where anything was possible, we saw video games based on girl’s dolls, books and even toys. Tiny toys, especially tiny toys that could fit in your pocket. Toys of a haunting, evil nature that graced many silver screens in force of horror, terror and downright awesomeness. This is where our story begins.

Toys for kids during the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s were all about small moving parts. You’d be crazy to find such a toy now that was rated for kids 12 and up due to something they call a “choking hazard”. Back then, small was in. Hard, possibly metal, tiny toys were what you wanted. The smaller, the better they’d say. One particular franchise that saw that light started from two former executives from Mattel that created a line of miniatures based on monsters and legendary creatures from religion, mythology and popular science fiction. This is Monster in my Pocket.

Monster In My Pocket (U) [!]-5

Developed by Komani, Monster in my Pocket was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990. Basing its storyline primarily on the comic book series (I guess you can’t have much of a story with just toys), you are thrown into the world that is Monster in my Pocket. And it’s a world that you are familiar with. A world where your platforms and environments are your kitchen, your coffee table and your backyard. Places where these little guys had been in my house. Hoping from couch to couch. Attacking enemies from the stove to the countertops. I didn’t have much of an imagination growing up to create elaborate backdrops and scenery. Just a couple of books and a dream.

It’s a beat-em-up. Every one loves beat-em-ups. It’s not the best. You have two characters to pick from (provided you are playing a single player game): the vampire and the monster. Or basically Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster. See? They didn’t have much of an imagination either. Both characters play the same; no different movesets or characteristics. Most of the enemies repeat over and over again. There are some interesting stages like going down into the sewers or fighting a boss in the freezer. Good stuff there.

Monster In My Pocket (U) [!]-6

Here’s why Monster in my Pocket is a great game. It’s a childhood dream come to life. It doesn’t make itself out to be something it’s not. It’s not trying to be groundbreaking or have some crazy overarching story that only a psychologist would understand. You’re playing with your toys around the house. Just like you did when you were a kid. The graphics are fine. You can make out everything with a decent amount of detail. And you get to experience something that we all seem to miss out on as adults: playing with toys around the house.


Go ahead and try. No one is watching. I won’t say anything.

The Black Tie Event Presents… All I Need to Know I Learned in the First 5 Minutes of the Legend of Zelda

We’ve learned so much over the years. From our days of schooling or the au par that would take care of us when our single mother was out “looking for a new Daddy” in Rome or Las Vegas. There are things we were taught that we forgot and there are things that never really mattered that we will never forget.

For this week’s Black Tie Event presents everything I really needed to know, I learned from playing the Legend of Zelda. And only in the first five minutes.

Tighten those ties, it’s about to get life-learned lessons classy in here.

Patience

Patience is huge in gaming. Either in finding out what a boss’s pattern is down to moving one pixel at a time to journey across a large gap or cavern. Those who are familiar with retro gaming and the NES in general, they know patience is a must.

You find the Legend of Zelda on a shelf next to many other titles for sale. You’ve seen the screenshots, you’ve read the reviews. This is the adventure you have been waiting for. You have the sweet crest on the front of the box and a little window that shows off the gold exterior of the cartridge. You purchase the game, run home and slap it in your NES only to get this:

Now, everyone has their own method of getting games to work on their NES because, I don’t know if you know, but every NES is different and requires your special touch. It won’t work on anyone else’s just yours.

You know it’s going to work, sooner or later it’s going to work. But this is what really separates the men from the boys. Some of you will give up and just try to get it to work later. Others will sit for hours getting the game to work. And those who have patience will win in the end. Because after those hours to getting it to work, becoming light headed from all of the blowing into the cartridge, that beautiful logo screen with the flowing waterfall and the glorious theme will sing through your mind until you are lying on your deathbed. Patience is a virtue. And the reward is the Legend of Zelda.

The Importance of a Name

Now, for those who first played Legend of Zelda, didn’t read the instruction booklet or waited for the story scroll. You wanted to play the game right? Right?! So naturally you would put your own name in or something funny hoping for the NPCs to use your name in some sort of conversation. Oh, and by the way, it almost never happens.

Many of us would just put their own name in just to bypass the screen and get to the game. Some of us will find this as a way to reinvent themselves. If you’re shy and an introvert, you could be Krun, the strong and powerful! Ready to save any kidnapped princess or damsel in distress. All of that starts with a name.

I use to think that I was plagued with a boring, easy to forget name. Eric Hunter. Lame. As I grew up, I found out that I have a very powerful name. A name that nearly no one would have an issue spelling first time out (huge deal there) and something that fits my personality. That’s the secret. It’s not my name that makes me, it’s me that makes the name. The name you pick will be echoed through the ages!

Or if you read the instruction booklet, you’d pick Link because that’s what the game’s hero’s name is. You know, whichever works for you. That, or you could pick Zelda, and give your game a totally different view.

Being Alone

Starting a new game in the Legend of Zelda, you get a sense of being utterly alone. You pull down your inventory and you have nothing. No items, no money, nothing. All you have are the clothes on your back and a full bill of health (which, you won’t know until later, can be increased). In front of you are three passageways. You have no idea where they go. You are building your map as you go. No one has given you a hand to push you in the correct direction.

A small note of valuable information here, is that this is the only installment in the Legend of Zelda series where you don’t have a home. In every iteration, you start in someone’s house or Link’s own home. But not here. You get a sense of larger things at work here and something or someone just dropped you in the middle of nowhere.

This is true in life as well. There are many times in your life that you will feel completely hopeless just like Link. You may have a good bill of health and a few roads ahead of you for you to take. But you are on your own. No one is going to help you.

Learning to Trust People

One of the first people you meet in this strange new land is an old man living as a hermit in a nearby cave. Upon entering, he has these famous lines…

The first time I met this “old man” (if he really is an old man), I was worried. There were too many holes in his story. How does he know it’s dangerous out there? He’s old. He’s not going out and running around. He’ll probably stay around his cave only going out as far as he has to for food and water. If he thinks the land octopuses that shoot rocks are dangerously, he’s got another thing coming. How does he really know it’s dangerous out there?

And he’s giving me a free sword. FREE! No swap, no “I’ll get you back later”, nothing. Just… here ya go. At this point in the game, you are already overwhelmed by, what you think anyway, the shear size of the new land you’ve just been thrown into, you haven’t seen or heard anyone or anything at this point, then you have this guy.

Just like in life, you have to decide on a moment’s notice if you can trust someone or not. He seems legit. At least to the point of, on a first meeting, he’s willing to help you along your journey without asking for anything in return. Do you take the sword and hope it really does help you in the end or do you go about your way making your own success without the kindness of strangers? I have seen players do both. Those who don’t take the sword have a tougher time adventuring. Even though it is impressive to watch a swordless Link speedrun.

Sometimes You Get Lucky

Some people seem to just get by without any outside help or direction. It just seems like all the roads are pointed their way and it’s clear sailing from here. Well, let’s face it, sometimes people get lucky. I don’t know how many times I’ve been playing a game and I’m so close to dying that the next hit will take me over the edge sending me back to the start of the level. Then this happens.

That’s right. I got lucky. Sure it could be that the program is written just so that it’ll recognize that you may need a little boost to keep playing while others are trying to keep you down and part of that may be true. Then there are other times where it seems just like a gift from god. Which in some ways is true. Life isn’t a program (unless you believe in the Matrix), and sometimes it just feels like things are going your way. Happens all the time. Take advantage of these incidents. They may be few and far between.

You Learn as You Go

If you’re like me, you didn’t read the instruction booklet that came with the game and you sure as hell didn’t wait for the story to roll after the title screen. So as far as you know, you’re alone in a vast unknown world and it’s up to you figure it out as you go.

You make it through the first dungeon, take out huge dragon and are awarded a… what the hell is this? You pull down your inventory and now there’s something there that wasn’t there before. Hmm… what does it mean? Who knows. You continue on your journey. Because you will figure it out eventually.

That’s the beauty of most things. You learn as you go. You come across something that doesn’t make sense now, hold on to it. Sooner or later it’ll make sense. Either for you or for someone else. There’s a note you receive from another old man (yes another one. They are everywhere in the land of Hyrule) and says to give it to the old woman. There isn’t any young people in Hyrule either, just in case you were wondering.

Now, you can’t use this note. It’s not for you, but as you continue your journey, you come across someone who needs it. This “swap” mechanic is used over and over again in pretty much all of the Legend of Zelda games. It’s a good life lesson. If there’s anytime you are concerned about the goings on in life, just keep going. You’ll figure it out.

I love the Legend of Zelda. It is my absolute favorite game of all time. Sure there are games that come out that may want to compete with it, but they fall short every time. The Legend of Zelda is a one of a kind. Just like you. Now wipe that childlike wonder out of your eyes and start slaying some beasts!

The Black Tie Events Presents… Why Movie Licensed Games are Doomed to Fail

Is that tie looking a little ragged? How old is it? 2 maybe 3 months? Time to get a new one, my friend. You don’t want to be seen in public looking like that.

There are also quite a few games that have been released to the public that shouldn’t have been. Mainly, video games developed from popular movie franchises. These little gems make their way into our homes with innocent intentions designed to entertain.

Many, if not all, of these movie licensed games fail. Whether they be well deserved games with interesting aspects or not, these games have never seem to work out in a gamer’s eye.

Why, you ask? Lots of reasons. You’ll be surprised to find that some of these games are doomed from the beginning, or in case of our first entry, is actually a good game, but gets roped into being a bad game because of it’s movie tie-in.

Tighten that tie because it’s about to get classy.

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th, released 1980 in America, is about a crazed lunatic that decides to take her vengeance out of a few teenagers who are working to reopen the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake. (For those who may not remember, Mrs. Voorhees, Jason’s mother, was the knife wielding psychopath in the first installment.)

The Nintendo Entertainment System installment was released 1989 some nine years after the first movie. That puts the game released around Friday the 13th VIII: Jason takes Manhattan. Rather than trying to convey a twisting plot around Mrs. Voorhees, Atlus (developer of the game) decided to go back to its roots and emerge the player into the nightmare that is Jason on the familiar ground of Camp Crystal Lake.

Friday the 13th for the NES is considered by many to be one of the worst games ever released. But underneath all of the hype, the game actually performs well in its constraints. Let’s take a look at some of the most common complaints.

Things aren’t all clear to you at first and you are left aimlessly wandering around the camp whacking zombies with your knife.

The game makes you learn how to survive by supplying the player with cryptic messages as you battle your way through the camp grounds looking for Jason. This is before the ever popular (/sarcasm) ”How To Play” tutorials that you find in most modern games. Most players don’t want the game to hold your hand. Instead they opt for “Learn as you play” techniques which include deciphering puzzling notes strewed throughout the game. Sounds like well designed game play to me.

See, everyone has split up so they can “cover more ground,” or something equally brainless, so they’re situated all over the encampment.

Anyone who’s ever seen a horror movie especially those deemed “slasher”, know that the first thing a group does is split up. That way the killer can take them out one by one. You run up the stairs not out the front door when the killer is in the house. If the group stayed together and the victim ran out the front door, the movie would end wouldn’t it? Why would the game, being based off of said movie, be any different? A video game is designed to bring the player into a world that doesn’t exist in their own reality. Making stupid decisions as a group is part of this reality.

The issue here shows that the movie series was already on its last legs before the video game was released. Atlus noticed this and decided to create a spin off of the movie rather than following a movie story line. This was to give the game a chance to burst past the movies. But as society will show time and time again, that if one bit is bad, it’s all bad.

Imagine how this game would have performed if it had a different title?

Street Fighter: the Movie — the Game

Sometimes, a franchise is so popular you really start running out of things to do with it. In the thoughts of the Street Fighter series, creating a movie with a very impressive casting list was a no-brainer. Or so one would think.

Street Fighter: the Movie will always be considered a terrible effort to turn a video game into a movie. An early attempt to cash in on a very popular video game franchise; the opposite of our first entry.

So, first, let’s get the idea confusion out of the way: this is a game, that’s based on a movie, that’s based on a video game. Get it? Hard to wrap one’s head around.

All and all, the idea was sound, take a popular video game turn it into a movie then allow the players to play as the actors themselves that played the characters in the movie who were portraying their video game counterparts. Wait… I think I just confused myself.

The biggest issue here was the movie didn’t fair well among viewers bringing in only a score of 13% on the TomatoMeter from Rotten Tomatoes. So the movie didn’t work. Why would anyone make a game based off a failing movie?

With a bad taste in our mouth, we headed to the arcade to play the first installment of Street Fighter: the Movie – the Game. With expectations all ready low, this game was doomed from the start.

But is the game that bad? Short answer: yes. But it was built upon a structure that, in my opinion, was already a failing attempt at game design. Mortal Kombat was one of the first games that became popular that used real actors for digitized images. Using this kind of technology limits the game to few frames for a proper animation. The moves look jagged or slow; unnatural at times.

Sprites themselves allow a programmer to make the motion fluid without taking up too much space or having an actor stand around for hours on end taking photos moving one inch and then another… and then another… Take a poor idea for a movie, turned video game, with some of the worst ideas for a head to head fighter, the game was pitted against itself and lost.

One thing I can say about this game… Akuma… super cool.

E.T. – Extra-Terrestrial

What’s cuter than a lonely boy to befriends an extra-terrestrial named simply E.T. that is stranded on Earth? Answer? Nothing. Pulling in just over $11 million dollars on opening night back in 1982 and stayed number one for six more weeks! Huge. Why wouldn’t the game be just as good? Right? Anyone?

E.T. for the ATARI 2600 is constantly cited as being the contributor to the video game crash of 1983. Developed and programmed by one man, Howard Scott Warshaw, was given only five weeks to have the game ready by the Christmas deadline. Talk about a raw deal.

But what he created was an extremely emotional piece of video game art. Not again will these styles be copied until the release of the popular Metroid for the NES.

Stay with me…

Warshaw decided to go against the grain and create something new with the title of E.T.: rather than bumping around as Elliot trying to help E.T. get back to his home planet, you play as E.T. On the quest to get there yourself.

Within E.T., you are pitted against your own solidarity, feeling helpless, abandoned. Around every corner is a man in a yellow suit and hat trying to capture you. You only have some much strength to keep going. Being on a strange new world, everything blends together making it difficult to plot your points and know if you are heading in the right direction or in circles.

When you cry out for aid, you have to incite the one who found you in the first place with candy before he will give you a piece of your planetary space phone. He holds the very key to getting you home but you have to bribe him with candy before he will comply. Taunting you with only 1 piece at a time until you bring him the necessary amount of payment. What a cruel world you are traveling through with E.T. You have no attacks, no power-ups, nothing. You are just a scared alien trying to get home.

After only struggling against the odds do you come out victorious in your adventure, your home planet’s ship comes to pick you up and are taken back to where it’s safe, where people love you, where you are no longer in danger.

A masterpiece…

Let us know what are some of your favorite movie licensed games that didn’t cut it with the mainstream but still holds a special place in your heart?

As always, stay classy.

The Black Tie Event Presents… Games I Quit Playing After 10 Seconds

Tighten that tie, shine those shoes, and button up that jacket, it’s about to get classy up in here. And by classy I mean, really really bad gaming. So bad in fact, you’ll be the best looking thing here. Well second best next to me.

There are a lot of reasons why people stop playing games. Usually these involve responsibilities around the house, work, or school. Not me. No sir. I refuse responsibilities. I am over that. That, my friend, is child’s play. I stop playing certain games because they are crap. Let me demonstrate with a few select titles that have forced me to hit the power button.

Double Dragon – Sega Game Gear

Level 1… first weapon you pick up is a… gun. A gun? There is a gun in Double Dragon. A gun. Why do you need a gun? You are a bad ass, fighting to get back your kidnapped girlfriend, and you’re going to opt for a gun? Who thought that was a good idea? Not one Double Dragon game has you picking up and using a gun. Not one. Stupid.

Beetlejuice – NES

Everyone knows that LJN = Crap. And if you don’t know, well I invite you to pick up a copy of this jeweled dump entitled Beetlejuice.

There are a lot of things wrong with this game. And when I say a lot… I mean the entire game is just one big wrong. But the thing that gets me the most is the hidden traps. Take a look above.

More than half of the screen is red. Red means danger. Red means death. If your screen is more than half a ticket to a watery grave, who would want to continue? There are pit falls everywhere! I understand that a game should be challenging and teach the player to overcome its obstacles, but come on.

Swamp Thing – NES

You play the role of Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing can duck. Swamp Thing can punch.

Swamp Thing can not duck and punch. Swamp Thing Swamp.

Spelunker – NES

Upon starting this game, I quickly realized that this was a plat former. Apparently a very good one considering the reviews and scores. And I am all about trying new things especially those held in high regards. I was gravely mistaken with this title. Let’s take a look at the first level.

As you can see, you are a spelunker… what ever that is. And you have been descended down into a cavern on a platform. Before you is a ledge. Now what do you do…?

Don’t jump to the ledge. Dear god, don’t do that. Because apparently if fall more than 1 foot, you will die. Yup… one foot death. Super… Don’t spelunkers usually have ropes?

Austin Powers: Oh, Behave – Gameboy Advance

OK, so I know what you’re thinking. It’s an Austin Power’s game, there’s no way this can be good. And I’m going to tell you right now… you are 100 percent correct. This game is terrible. But, luckily, I didn’t even get to the “game” the first time I loaded this bad boy up. Take a look at this.

You see the joke? The programmers actually thought it would be funny to have a loading screen for a cartage game. But the in between lines of Austin Power memes is really what got me. Then this happens.

That’s right. Austin Power 2000 complete with it’s own hourglass so that you may watch the loading process unfold. Isn’t that just great? Isn’t it? Here’s the screen I saw next.

Ah, static. It’s it beautiful. I turned the game off if anyone was wondering.

Are there any games that you just had to turn off? Let us know in the comments. And bring your black ties.

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

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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

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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