Blaster Master (NES)

Pub: Sunsoft | Dev: Tokai Engineering | November 1988
Pub: Sunsoft | Dev: Tokai Engineering | November 1988

Blaster Master celebrates 30 years this month. Released in November of 1988, Blaster Master is one of those beloved 8-bit classics that most kids from the NES era fondly remembers. Although my gaming crew never held it quite in the same light as Contra or Mega Man 2, it was always right up there with the best of the rest. There was something about it. Something different and memorable. The ability to man a powered up tank was unique enough on its own, but throw in the ability to hop out of said tank to patrol around on foot made the blasting experience double cool. Switching from side-scrolling action to a top-down shooter differentiated Blaster Master from the masses, making it stand out in an era where most games featured very little variety. As a fun bonus, the title of the game encompassed the late ’80s. BLASTER MASTER. It was cool, yet cheesy. Charming, yet campy. It fit in perfectly with the times we were growing up in. Happy 30th Anniversary, Blaster Master!

The good old days when   back of boxes were so cool
The good old days when back of boxes were so cool

THE STORY GOES…

And who said Jason and Freddy can't be friends??
And who said Jason and Freddy can’t be friends?

The game features a timeless plot. You know it by heart. But just for the record…

Boy loves frog.

Frog escapes.

Frog licks radioactive tin.

Boy follows frog underground.

Boy finds tank.

Boy saves world.

Riveting stuff, really.

"Would you like flies with that?" [SMH -Ed.]
“Would you like flies with that?”  [Oh dear -Ed.]
No lid eh? Way to go, Einstein...
No lid eh? Way to go, Einstein…
Where the HELL is this kid living anyhow... AREA 51?!
Where the HELL is this kid living anyhow… AREA 51?!
Have we not learned anything from Godzilla?
Remember Godzilla, anyone?
Mmm, giant frog legs
Mmm, giant frog legs
You gotta appreciate the nonsensical wacky plot
You gotta appreciate the nonsensical wacky plot

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[You mean HELMET. Hmm, why did I hire you again? Remember kids, STAY IN SCHOOL!-Ed]
[You mean HELMET. Why did I hire you again?
Remember kids, ALWAYS STAY IN SCHOOL!-Ed]
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THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

Hard to fathom it's been 30 years
Hard to fathom it’s been 30 years

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Navigating Sophia around the landscape is satisfying in and of itself. Managing the momentum of the tank as it moves about is all part of the fun. Add to that a healthy dosage of blasting bad guys and it’s a grand old time.

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You can leap out of the tank and patrol around on foot as Jason himself. He has his own health bar and there are certain locations that only Jason has access to.

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The tank is inoperable underwater, so Jason hops out for a quick swim. Thankfully, you don’t need to worry about finding water bubbles as a respite. Sonic the Hedgehog Jason ain’t!

Zap the jellyfish or swim around
Zap the jellyfish or swim around

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You’ll find a ladder at the end here that will take you to the first overhead section, where you’ll play exclusively as Jason.

He becomes a much easier target to hit
Reminiscent of NES Rygar, no?

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Life Force is another NES classic
Life Force is another NES classic
"Don't open til Doomsday!"
“Do not open until Doomsday!”

You’ll receive an upgrade for your tank after defeating the boss. Backtrack because now you can destroy the wall guardian with your new power-up. Nice!

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It definitely does, what with its backtracking and various upgrades that allow you to access previously inaccessible areas.

It's got that classic NES vibe
It’s got that classic NES vibe to it
Overpower these cronies
Overpower these cronies
Yup, you know what this means!
Yup you know what this means
Shades of Legend of Zelda
Shades of Legend of Zelda

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New power-ups allow you to expand the game as well as fortify your tank.

Stage variety is always nice
Stage variety is always nice
Blast their asses into tomorrow
Blast their asses into tomorrow
Oh no, could it be Fred?!
Oh no, could it be Fred?!
Obligatory swimming sections
Obligatory swimming sections
You can see the Metroid influences
You can see the Metroid influence
Looks like crab for dinner
Looks like crab for dinner
Color schemes range from
Blast bricks to reveal new areas
Obligatory slippery ice level
Ice affects your tank’s traction
A true game changer, this
A true game changer, this
Love the colors here
Love the colors here. Classic NES!
It captured my imagination
The action get crazier and crazier
In the words of Van Halen: jump!
In the words of Van Halen: JUMP!
The end (of the world) is near
The end (of the world) nears
The box cover star rears its ugly head
The box cover star finally appears
Can you vanquish the evil Overlord?
Can you slay the evil Overlord?

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Often heralded as an NES classic, the real question is does Blaster Master stand the test of time? It was definitely a memorable title 30 years ago, but how well has it aged exactly? Obviously your mileage may vary, but from where I sit Blaster Master is a bit of an uneven playing experience. I found myself looking forward most to the side scrolling tank blasting action while the overhead sections patrolling around as Jason, not so much. Controlling the tank S.O.P.H.I.A. (which stands for Subatomic Omni-directional Probative Hyper-responsive Indomitable Abdicator) with its various power-ups is quite the good time. But the overhead bits feel a little clunky and cumbersome. They did so even back in 1988. 30 years later and it’s even more apparent. Throw into the equation some moderate backtracking and no save or password system and you have a game that hasn’t aged all that well.

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But judged on its own merits 30 years ago, it was an easy 8.5-9.0 of a game for many of us. It’s not as fun to play today but it’s still a decent time. However, I highly recommend playing Blaster Master Zero instead. I beat that one on the Nintendo Switch and it’s AWESOME. Makes it really hard going back to NES Blaster Master! Regardless of which game you choose to play, here’s a toast to 30 years of BLASTER MASTER. Thanks for the memories, SOPHIA!

Blaster Master Zero is the shit
Blaster Master Zero is the bee’s knees

Double Dragon Trilogy (NES)

Where it all began... sort of
Where it all began… sort of

Double Dragon. Man, the series brings back a lot of fond memories for me. It originated in the arcades in 1987 and received a Nintendo port in June 1988. The NES game was where many of us were first exposed to the exploits of the Shadow Warriors and the Lee Brothers. It’s hard to believe the NES version is almost 30 years old. Let’s kick off Double Dragon week here on RVGFanatic with the classic (well, mostly, anyhow) NES trilogy.

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Who could forget this intro?

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THE FIENDS!

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Remember the little music here?

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Make them pay for their sins.

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Remember climbing the ladders?
Or stealing Linda’s whip?

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Love the city in the backdrop.

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Abobo is an all-time iconic NES villain.

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They weren’t levels.
They weren’t stages.
They were missions!

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Ever been hit by a cardboard box?
They’re more vicious than they look!

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You really felt like you were on a mission.

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Scaling this tower was some epic shit.
Seriously made you feel like Bruce Lee.

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Speaking of Bruce Lee…

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Don’t think these are friendly woods.

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Take his knife and throw it back at him!

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This was so atmospheric :)

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Batting practice, anyone?

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Abobo twins busting out was so epic.

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This part always did me in.

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As did this, if I made it this far.

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Watch those sticks of dynamite…

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The Incredible Abobo.

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That moon is straight up Konami!

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How ominous looking…

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OH BLOODY HELL!

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Come here often?

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I’ve got better things to do tonight than die!

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Ah, the 2-player mode we didn’t want.

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A novelty act that didn’t last long.

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Well, at least you could use Abobo.

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How about 2 players in the real mode?

Ask and you shall receive
Ask and you shall receive

Double Dragon II: The Revenge was everything we wanted in a Double Dragon game and more. Now you could play co-op with a buddy and take out the bad guys together. I have so many fond memories of playing this game with my uncle and brother switching off back in January 1990 when it first came out to North American shores. We played the crap out of this game and it was one of our absolute favorites.

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DAMN RIGHT!

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I remember thinking this was a bit spooky.
Let’s just say Marian is in trouble…

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Look, it’s Williams with a new makeover.
Yup, must have been the ’90s.

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I used to call these guys “Leaf Men” :P

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Never gets old stealing their weapons.

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Remember throwing them off the ledge?

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Reminded me of WWF’s Demolition!

demolition-tag-team

Here comes the Ax.
Here comes the Smasher.
The Demolition — walking disaster.
Pain and destruction is our middle name!

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“GET TO DA CHOPPA!”

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Such an awesome moment.

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Not the best position to be in…

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This was even worse.

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I called these guys “Ninja Scarecrows” :P

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I loved these little cutscenes.

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“Neon-filled night” — beautiful phrase.

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I called these guys “Paintbrush Men” :P

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Watch out for the opening chopper door!
Hell of a mustache on this guy.

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Welcome to Skull Island.

KongSkullIsl

“Is that a monkey?”

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Love that sunset.

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It’s the Arnold mid-boss!

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Shades of Contra, anyone?

ContraDD

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

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Bit tricky this was.

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“This is the way to certain death.”
Another great action movie line.

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Gotta have a forest stage.
Wouldn’t be Double Dragon without one.

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This part claimed so many lives…

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What lies up ahead?
Only one way to find out…

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So fun setting these guys on fire.

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It’s Chin from the first Double Dragon!
Oh man, that early ’90s fashion though.

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We meet again, Arnold.
“I’LL BE BACK!”
Yeah, we’ll see about that.

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“There is evil in the air.”
It’s cheesy but that’s the charm.

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Disappearing platforms, yay…

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“Paint THIS, bitch!”

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Concentrate, young Jedi.

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Send my regards to Mr. Fuji!

FujiDD

*devious Mr. Fuji crackle*

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Just a cog in the machine…

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Back again? You weren’t lying, Arnold.

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“Damnit, we just wiped this floor clean!”

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Your greatest enemy is yourself…

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This guy kicked my ass hard.

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Remember using the Game Genie on him?
Yeah, you weren’t alone. Game Genie FTW.

The Sacred Disappointment
The Sacred Disappointment

Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones came out in the US February 1991. To put it simply, my brother and I felt it was a grand disappointment. It didn’t really feel like a Double Dragon game. Certainly there was a lot of potential there but we felt it was never realized. It was hard as hell, too. I don’t mind a difficult game, but when it feels damn near impossible to get past the second level or so, something is not right. I know some people might enjoy this game and that’s fine if you do. I just never did. Nevertheless, let’s take a quick look.

DD3NES

Ah, the infamous Bimmy blunder.
This was a sign of things to come.

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Creepy intro, though.
Points for that.

DD3NES3

I dunno, old lady, you look a bit shady…

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Ah what the hell. Let’s go.

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He nails the homeless man impersonation.

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I never liked the aesthetic.

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Double Dragon II looked way better.

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This is the boss? How disappointing.

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At least they still have a forest stage.

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Nice to see the Great Wall of China, too.

DD3NES15

Chin, you’ve really let yourself go…

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It’s a little depressing :P

DD3NES18

Wait, you can use Chin?!
That’s not jumping the shark at all…

DD3NES20

Beat Ranzou and he becomes an ally.

DD3NES24

Props for branching out, I guess.
But some things don’t need branching out.

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He’s certainly no Abobo.

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Best looking part of the game.
So let’s end it on a high note :P

CLOSING THOUGHTS

DD2NES52

Double Dragon is a classic franchise that I feel has been overlooked and somewhat forgotten over the years. For me growing up with the NES in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the brand of Double Dragon in my mind was right up there with the likes of Mario, Punch-Out!!, Mega Man, Metroid, Castlevania and Contra. It saddens me that it kind of faded away from the spotlight but hey, we’ll always have the memories. On a side note, we did receive Double Dragon IV for PS4 and Steam on January 30, 2017. So the Lee Brothers aren’t officially dead yet.

One of the most iconic moments in NES history
One of the most iconic moments in NES history

The NES trilogy was a mixed bag. The first one was great for its time. The visuals and sound were both excellent. I also kind of liked that you learn more moves as you gain experience. It makes sense being the first game that the Lee Brothers would slowly learn more moves as they go along. The only thing missing a 2-player co-op mode in the regular game mode. The second one is the best. Now you get 2-player co-op and the Lee Brothers know every trick in the book from the very beginning, so there’s no limitations or holding back from jump street. It’s an action-packed game that’s great fun with two. My only complaint? A little bit too much platforming for my liking. I don’t mind a bit of platforming in my beat ‘em ups as long as the control is on point. I can’t say that about Double Dragon II — I’ve lost many a life trying to complete all the damn jumps in that game. As for the third game in the series, I never liked it. It felt outdated and didn’t even feel like Double Dragon, names aside. Guess you can’t win ‘em all. See ya next time for the Lee Brothers’ SNES debut!

Double Dragon: 8.5
Double Dragon II: 9.0
Double Dragon III: 6.0

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (NES)

Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth
Everyone has a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth

It’s hard to fathom that come this October, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! will turn the big 3-0. Wow, where does the time go? Growing up, my brother and friends adored Mario. Don’t get me wrong — I loved the Italian plumber myself, but when it came to the NES it was always about three games that truly cemented me as a gamer for life. Contra, Mega Man 2 and of course, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! I recently reviewed the sequel, Super Punch-Out!!, so it’s only fitting to return to the original and remember why it’s arguably the greatest boxing video game of all time.

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE

The Man, The Myth, The Menace
The Man, The Myth, The Menace

We came for Mike Tyson. We stayed for Little Mac.

MTPO1

Co-starring Carl Otis Winslow!

#mychildhood
#mychildhood

MINOR CIRCUIT

MTPO2

Ah, Glass Joe. Nintendo’s greatest jobber.

MTPO3

Joe’s facial expressions are priceless.

MTPO4

Love seeing that spit flying out!

MTPO5

Mario moonlighting as a ref was so cool.

MTPO6

Von Kaiser is a big step up from Joe.

MTPO7

Earn stars for Mac’s Super Uppercut.

MTPO8

23-13? About to go 23-14.

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Dodging like a smooth criminal.

MTPO10

Control is crazy on point.

MTPO11

Knock off his mustache!

MTPO12

Piston Honda was serious business.

MTPO13

So intimidating the first time you see him!

MTPO14

Snapping his massive head back felt so sweet.

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Piston’s infamous flurry of jabs.

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He polishes it off with a gigantic uppercut.

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Love the way he back peddles before falling.

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Looks like Paul Bunyan with those huge feet!

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Ah, the classic training sequence.

MAJOR CIRCUIT

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Don Flamenco has a face you just want to punch.

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He gave off such a douche and creep vibe!

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Give him that electrocution hair.

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One of my childhood friends looked like King Hippo.

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King Hippo’s defense is top-notch.

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Until it isn’t. Classic moment!

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One knock-out and he’s done for.

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Great Tiger used to give me fits.

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Love how his eyes bug out when you drill him.

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His teleportation trick was a bit trippy.

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Look for his turban to flash…

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One of the all-time great NES villains!

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Such an imposing sight the very first time!

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Did this feel good or what?

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He’s got buggy eye syndrome, too.

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The Bull Charge is such an iconic move.

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As was the counter for it!

WORLD CIRCUIT

Note: You’ll have rematches with Piston Honda and Don Flamenco in this circuit. However, I’ll skip showing them again even though they are slightly tweaked to be more difficult second time around.

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Soda Popinksi. What an all-time great name!

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He scared me as a kid…

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He always whupped my ass.

MTPO38

“Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream.” He’ll be glad to.

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Enjoy this while you can.

MTPO40

He’s a tough bastard!

MTPO41

He’s no Randy Savage, though.

MTPO42

They just keep getting bigger and bigger.

MTPO43

Watch out for his Macho Spin Punch.

MTPO44

Whew!

MTPO45

A NES rite of passage.

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Making it this far was impressive alone.

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Hey, he’s not so bad…

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Yeah, right. Gotta be super fast!

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Arguably the most intense NES final boss battle.

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You were a legend if you could beat Tyson legit.

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My brother’s friend was able to make it to Tyson on a few occasions. Just getting to Iron Mike was an accomplishment in and of itself. Being able to land a few blows was enough to earn you a couple high fives. Tyson is very fast and very hard to hit, let alone knock out. If anyone ever did, they became a gawd damn legend. No one in my group could ever do it, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Tyson terrorized many Nintendo kids growing up in the ’80s. He’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

MTPO54

Show him who’s boss, Mac!

TELL ‘IM, DOC LOUIS!

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In-between rounds Doc Louis will give you tips.

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Gotta love the added damage to the avatars!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Mike-Tyson-Punch-Out-Cast

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is one of my favorite NES games of all time. I love the 8-bit Nintendo but if I were to be perfectly honest a large portion of its library has not aged well. To be frank, some have aged downright terribly. However, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! stands the test of time even nearly 30 years later. From the huge sprites to the different strategies one must adopt from fighter to fighter, there’s no denying this is one of the all-time classics. A truly great game never goes out of style. No matter how much time passes by, it remains as playable and fun as ever. Few games can claim that. This game can. It’s always hard to admit when a childhood favorite fails to live up to standards. In this case, there are thankfully no nostalgia goggles. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is still a TKO even three decades after its initial release. That says it all, really.

OVERALL: 9.5

Whisper sweet nothings into my ear, Doc
Whisper sweet nothings into my ear, Doc
Rock on Rocky, er, Little Mac
Rock on Rocky, er, Little Mac

Rampage (NES)

"GREAT SCOTTS! MY WIFE!" "YOUR WIFE?!?! THAT'S MY GIRLFRIEND!" "WHAT!? THAT'S MY LESBIAN LOVER YOU FOOLS!"
“GREAT SCOTT — MY WIFE!”
“YOUR WIFE?!?! THAT’S MY GIRLFRIEND!”
“WHAT!? THAT’S MY LESBIAN LOVER YOU FOOLS!”

Ah, Rampage. Hard to believe the 1986 arcade game turned 30 last year. Next year will mark 30 years for the 8-bit NES port. Who didn’t play this game back in the day? I remember seeing the lovely cover at my local mom ‘n pop rental shop EVERGREEN VIDEO and absolutely going nuts. I loved monsters and the cover promised monster mayhem and destruction. My old man handed a Washington over to Tom, Evergreen Video’s owner, as my dad did every Saturday afternoon when my brother and I would go to rent the latest NES title. Remember when games were that cheap to rent? Hell, remember when renting games was a thing?! But I digress. That whole car ride home, all five minutes of it, was the longest five minutes of my life. I couldn’t wait to play Rampage. We rushed to our game room, popped it in and the rest is history. The fact that I remember it fondly to this day nearly 30 years later says it all.

KING KONG VS. GODZILLA

MORE AMAZING THAN YOUR EYES CAN BELIEVE!
More amazing than your eyes can believe!

Man, I remember gawking at this VHS cover at Toys R Us in the late ’80s. Toys R Us used to have a super small VHS section that contained Disney movies and the odd Godzilla film. Long before Capcom made crossovers popular in the late ’90s, there was 1962’s KING KONG vs. GODZILLA! I had no clue such a film existed so I nearly crapped my pants when I first saw the box sitting pretty on the shelf. Suddenly I no longer cared about buying that latest ThunderCats toy or the newest Nintendo game. Rather, all I wanted was to walk away with just a movie… from Toys R Us! We’re talkin’ TOYS R US here! You know it had to take a pretty damn special movie to possess any kid to want to do that. King Kong vs. Godzilla was that special. My parents bought it on sight and I remember being a bit disappointed when I finally saw the movie. Still, I liked it enough and had no regrets of not buying Leonardo: Scuba Diving Edition!

Can't wait for their rematch in 2020!
Can’t wait for their rematch in 2020!

Speaking of King Kong, I just watched Kong: Skull Island the other night. It was pretty good, and I am excited for this new “MonsterVerse” that Legendary has created. Crossover franchises are all the rage now, and I can’t wait for King Kong vs. Godzilla to hit theatres on May 29, 2020. That’s sure to be epic.

One of the best shots in any monster film ever!
One of the best shots in any monster film ever
My body is ready. TAKE MY MONEY
My body is ready. TAKE MY MONEY

After discovering the internet in the late ’90s, I purchased a subtitled version of King Kong vs. Godzilla. I enjoyed it a lot more than the English dub. So, how does this all relate to Rampage? Well of course…

I hope you weren't too fond of the wolf guy!
I hope you weren’t too fond of the wolf guy…

RampageNES2

I'll say!
I’ll say!

Yeeeeee-ahhh
A used… pink bathrobe
A rare… mint snowglobe
A Smurf… TV tray
I bought on eBay!

My house… is filled with this crap
Shows up in BUBBLE WRAP
Most every day
What I bought on eBay!

Tell me why I need another pet rock
Tell me why I got that ALF alarm clock
Tell me why I bid on Shatner’s old toupee
They had it on eBay!

I’ll buy… your knick-knack
Just check… my feedback
“A++!”  they all say
They love me on eBay!

Gonna buy a slightly damaged golf bag
Gonna buy some Beanie Babies, new with tag
From some guy I’ve never met in NOOOORWAAAY
Found him on eBay!

I am the type who is liable to snipe you
With two seconds left to go, whoaaaa
Got Paypal or Visa, whatever’ll please ya
As long as I’ve got… THE DOOOUGH!

I’ll buy… your tchotchkes
Sell me… your watch, please
I’ll buy… I’ll buy, I’ll buy, I’ll buy…
I’M HIGHEST BIDDER!!

JUNK KEEPS ARRIVING IN THE MAIL
FROM THAT WORLDWIDE GARAGE SALE (Dukes Of Hazard ashtray)
Hey! A Dukes Of Hazard ashtray
OHHHH YEAH… I bought it on eBay!

Wanna buy a Pac-Man Fever lunchbox
Wanna buy a case of vintage tube socks
Wanna buy a Kleenex used by Dr. Dre, used by Dr. Dre!
Found it on eBay!

Wanna buy that Farrah Fawcet poster
Pez dispensers and a toaster
DON’T KNOW WHY… the kind of stuff you’d throw away
I’ll buy on eBay!

What I bought on eBay-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y!

Stop staring at me and do it you goof!
Stop staring at me and do it you goof!

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[That's not kinky at all... -Ed.]
[That’s not kinky at all… -Ed.]
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Jump safely off, or fall down and lose health
Jump safely off, or fall down and lose health
Hey, I did originally write this review in 2008...
Hey, I did originally write this review in 2008…
Better enjoy it -- there's not a whole lot...
Better enjoy it — there’s not a whole lot…

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[No wonder he moved, and it ain't coz of the hairy ape -Ed.]
[No wonder he moved, and it ain’t coz of the ape -Ed.]
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See that little guy?
See that guy?
YUMMY!
YUMMY!
[I knew there was something funny about the ape -Ed.]
[I knew there was something funny about the ape -Ed.]
I CAN HARDLY CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT. CAN YOU?!?!
I CAN HARDLY CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT. CAN YOU?
I mean, look how beautiful Vegas is! So let's check it out
I mean, look how beautiful Vegas is! So let’s see…
Bloody hell, man. That's it?!
Bloody hell, man. That’s it?!
Love that sign. Brings some much needed variety
Love that sign. Brings some much needed variety

Indeed. The best part of the game is scaling a building that allows you to clobber that one, the one behind it and the one next to it as well. That, along with playing with your brother or friend, was as good as it got in Rampage.

Hmmm, where have I seen this before?
Hmmm, where have I seen this before?
Ah yes of course... THE KING OF MONSTERS!
Ah yes of course… THE KING OF MONSTERS!
[Damn you Bowe, I had money on you that night -Ed.]
[Damn you Bowe, I had money on you that night -Ed.]
Fan Man dropping by...
Fan Man dropping by…

November 6, 1993 marks one of the strangest incidents ever witnessed in sports history. It was a rematch between Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield. During round seven, a fan parachuted down just missing the ring. The bizarre incident caused a 21 minute delay.

Holyfield eventually won the bout after the fight went 12 rounds. He regained his World Heavyweight title. It was the only loss Riddick Bowe would ever suffer in his boxing career.

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Every five or so stages, you conquer another region. No password or save system made beating this game a daunting and tedious chore.

RAMPAGE THROUGH THE YEARS

The boys are back in town ♫ ♫ ♫
The boys are back in town  ♫ ♫ ♫

I was a bit saddened when we never got a Super Rampage on the SNES. I thought that spelled the end but Rampage saw a revival during the 32-bit generation in the form of Rampage World Tour. I bought a copy back in 2003 and it’s OK for what it is, but I was disappointed there wasn’t a three player mode. There was no excuse for that especially since the Saturn could more than handle it. Therefore the port always came off as incredibly lazy to me.

The last Rampage game to date
The last Rampage game to date

Rampage: Total Destruction came out on the Wii in 2006. Who knows if Rampage will ever be resurrected again (in video game form).

Well, speaking about a resurrection...
Well, speaking about a resurrection…

Coming to theatres in April 2018 — Rampage starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The Rock is no stranger to video game movie adaptations. This will be his second video game film, with his first being 2005’s Doom. That was not a good movie. Hopefully Rampage turns out OK, and I think it will. We’ll find out in about a year!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Even nearly 30 years ago, I knew Rampage wasn’t a great game or anything. It’s best played with a like minded bud for no more than 15 minutes. Is there a more mindless one trick pony game than Rampage? It is what it is. It can be fun to pop in for a few minutes once in a blue moon but it’s not something you’ll want to play often. I’ll always remember Rampage for its cool box art and allowing kids to live out our fantasy of being a towering monster crushing buildings left and right — even if it fell way short of what we imagined. I guess there’s only so much you can do with this sort of format. Rampage is one of those games that gives you the nostalgic feels but the memories far surpass the actual experience, if that makes sense. It’s certainly a memorable relic from the good old NES days of late ’80s yore.

The arcade marquee is forever burned in my mind
The arcade marquee is forever burned in my mind

Mega Man 2 (NES)

One of the true cornerstones of the NES library

For anyone who grew up on gaming in the late 1980s and had an 8-bit Nintendo, we all have certain games that we connected with. For many of us, one such game was Mega Man 2. Released in June 1989, Mega Man 2 rocked my world. It truly captivated my imagination. The ability to pick your stage, take enemies’ weapons and the fact that you’re a freaking robot made this game an absolute slam dunk. There’s not much left to say in 2016 that hasn’t already been said thousands of times before, but I still wanted to talk about this game for a bit. It’s an incredibly nostalgic piece of gaming history for me. Remember that intro? It set the mood perfectly and haunts me to this day.

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Ah, childhood memories
Ah, childhood memories
That music, everything. It worked
That music, everything. It worked
The classic select screen
The classic select screen

I remember the first time I saw this, my eyes popped. I never really played the original Mega Man, so this stage select business was brand new to me. Back then all the games I had played were done in a linear fashion. The game had a set order of levels and you had no choice but to follow that order. Not so here. Capcom gave us the freedom to pick and choose. Of course, as we would come to find out, there was a method to their madness. The bosses all had a special weakness that required another boss weapon. So there was a hidden order if you will, but it’s always nice to be given a choice.

The first boss I ever chose
The first boss I ever chose

I selected Wood Man first because I liked his burly look. That plus I figured it would take place in a forest type level. I’ve always had a thing for forests in video games, even way back in 1989.

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Who could ever forget the sleeping bats? As soon as you get near them they spring to life. The purple hare was always a favorite enemy of mine. It wasn’t big or tough enough to be considered a mini boss, but it was strong enough to sustain a few bullets. I love enemies that are a notch above cannon fodder. Of course, the big bad wolf/dog creature and his flaming breath is an image that has been burned into our memory banks, pardon the pun. Classic stuff.

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Watch out for the bird which if not killed early on drops an egg that could be bad news for ya. Love the random sprinting chickens.

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After defeating Wood Man, you take his weapon Leaf Shield. Discovering the proper order of a Mega Man game is all part of the charm and fun.

Ah, Flash Man. Another classic boss
Ah, Flash Man. Another classic

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It’s your classic typical icy level where the surface is slippery. Ah, these images bring back such fond memories of a simpler time. I *hated* that robot rider with a burning passion. He always seemed to zap my health without fail each and every damn time.

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One of my favorite things about fighting Flash Man is that his battle zone isn’t a straight flat surface. I like all the different tiers there. It just makes the fight that much more interesting.

The music here was unrivaled
The music here was unrivaled

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This was one of my lesser favorite levels but it still has its moments. The giant spiked crane reminded me of Contra and the conveyor belt added a decent gimmick to this stage.

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Those Metal Blades are deadly, slicing and dicing anything caught in its path. They become yours after you send Metal Man back to the scrap heap.

The stars are a nice touch
The stars are a nice touch

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Like your typical forest and icy levels, you have your obligatory sky or air level. I’ve never been a big fan of these stages. Not crazy about instant game overs!

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Those squiggly worms were a good place to “farm” for goodies. That big guy there tries to suck you in [Sounds like your standard Saturday night *rimshot* -Ed.]

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One of the joys of playing a Mega Man title is figuring out which boss weapon works best on another boss. It’s a game of trial and error. Keep in mind too that back in 1989 there was no internet. There was no GameFAQs. And there was no YouTube. You couldn’t just find out the solution in mere seconds. Back then it was a real battle of wills. You traded secrets with your buddies on the playground. It was just a sign of the times. Signs from a bygone era.

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When I was a kid I struggled with this stage. Hey, I was 6, OK? I always seemed to get hit by those damn floating Tellies. Especially right at the top just when I’m about to leave that bloody screen forever. Later you come to this makeshift ride with more annoying Tellies.

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I remember watching my brother and his friends getting this far. I never could back in 1989. It’s funny how certain levels haunted us as kids, but we can now dominate as adults. The same applies for vice versa.

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I watched in sheer awe as my brother and his friends made short work of Crash Man. I remember thinking to myself that they just accomplished the impossible. Ah, the innocent of youth.

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I *hated* those laser beams. I never could get past them back in the day. I liked how the screen was dark except for when that enemy chucked his flaming ball.

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Alright, another boss fight where the surface isn’t flat! [Wish I could say that about my wife… *rimshot* c’mon now what the hell -Ed.]

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Ah, the mandatory water stage. I think pretty much everyone has the image of that giant robotic fish firmly implanted in their brains. One of my favorite things about any Mega Man game is reaching the boss zone. I loved the giant Dr. W sign and the “health bar door.” Come on, just look at it. It looks like your health bar!

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Don’t jump too high! It made this fight a little more challenging than normal.

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Those bloody Tellies are back to haunt me. And there’s your token disappearing block jumping section. Over a death pit, of course. Of course.

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Heat Man’s weakness, surprise surprise, is Bubble Man’s Bubble Lead. Even I was able to figure that out as a kid. Thanks Battle Beast. Water always beats fire!

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After defeating all eight robot masters, it’s time to head to Dr. Wily’s evil fortress. This reveals a series of more levels to further extend the game.

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Some of the more iconic bosses in Mega Man history right here. They blew my mind back in the day, particularly the King Kong wannabe. He took up like half the damn screen!

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It’s the final fight! Against Dr. Wily! *laughs* Right, because Capcom and “final” go hand in hand, and I’m not talking about Final Fight, either.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Thanks for the memories, Capcom
Thanks for the memories, Capcom

There were a total of six Mega Man games on the NES. People often debate over the years which one is better: part 2 or 3. My answer remains the same throughout the years, Mega Man 2. Maybe it’s nostalgia talking, but Mega Man 2 just hits a sweet spot for me that very few NES games do. Even to this day, I find it to be highly playable — it’s held up well over the years. If it weren’t for Contra and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, this would be my favorite Nintendo game. From the impressive visuals to the music to the whole novelty of it all, Mega Man 2 stands as one of the finest 8-bit video games ever created. Its lofty place in gaming history is firmly cemented.

I think back to the year 1989 and remember how excited my friends and I were playing Mega Man 2. Discovering each boss’ weakness, figuring out the best path to take and beating the boss with one pellet of health remaining… these were all part of the joy of playing any given Mega Man title. All those Saturday mornings spent in Ben’s garage that summer of 1989 provided a plethora of fond memories. It was the thrill of banding together as a group of friends and playing the game well into the afternoons. When we couldn’t just find out secrets and tips with one simple click. Those were some great times from a bygone era. Those memories stay with me to this day and I can’t help but reminisce about them whenever I think of the greatness that is Mega Man 2. Hats off to you, Capcom. This sequel truly made the Blue Bomber a force to be reckoned with.

OVERALL: 9.5

Super C (NES)

Contra is back, and boy is it tougher than ever
Contra is back, and boy is it tougher than ever

Last Saturday night I was inspired to fire up the old NES for the first time in ages. I still love the system to this day but in terms of actually playing it, it’s been a while. I don’t get to game as much as I’d like these days due to work getting busier and busier, but when I do game I tend to play my Super Nintendo. But last Saturday I had the strangest and strongest urge to revisit my old friend, and my old flame, the 8-bit Nintendo. The first game I played? Super C. Now back in the day I recall playing it briefly, but never thoroughly, and I was adamant on changing that. The game initially kicked my ass until I enabled a few Game Genie cheats to help see me through. Normally I try to beat a game fair and square but I had no guilt here. I just wanted to see all of the crazy levels. This was my journey through hell and back.

Note: Credit vgmuseum.com for these pictures.

Note 2: This past weekend I also published reviews for NES Contra and Contra III: The Alien Wars. Be sure to check them out, too.

Love the orange purple sky
Love the orange purple sky
You descend upon Hell on Earth
You descend upon Hell on Earth

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Super C came out April 1990, two full years before Contra III: The Alien Wars. I can kind of see where the influences for Contra III‘s first level emanates from. Some of these sights here look awfully familar. Hmmm….

I do miss the classic foot soldiers
I miss the classic foot soldiers
They finally shoot back for a change
They just had a little more style and pizzazz to them
It ain't Contra if it doesn't have a turret
The soldiers run pretty fast
More turrets to take out
More turrets to take out
Forge on ahead
Forge on ahead

The first stage is pretty solid. Sure that first boss isn’t anything mind-blowing or ultra memorable, but I love how after you destroy all the turrets a red beating orb appears in the middle for you to gun down. It sets the stage as a lot of the bosses have compartments or turrets to take out first.

Hey, a top down level!
Hey, a top down level!
Shades of Contra III
Shades of Contra III

Indeed, playing Super C is like peering into the future. Some of Contra III‘s levels and ideas seem to derive somewhat from Super C.

It's also a bit Heavy Barrel-esque
It’s also a bit Heavy Barrel-esque
More turrets
This game has turrets syndrome
A pretty fun romp all in all
A pretty fun romp all in all
A simple but effective boss
A simple but effective boss
Shades of Contra's jungle
Shades of Contra‘s jungle
In the jungle the lion sleeps... TO-NIGHT [... -Ed.]
I do prefer the original, but it’s nice to see the nod
It's too flat for my liking
It’s too flat for my liking

It is. The first game’s jungle had lots of different platforms to jump on or off of. This jungle version lacks that. It’s pretty much a straight flat shot through, and that takes away a lot of the fun and intrigue. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fun level to work your way through, but it’s just not as fascinating as the original.

Mandatory water bit
Mandatory water bit
You can feel a mid boss coming
You can feel a mid boss coming
What did I tell ya?
What did I tell ya?
Bloody collapsing floors!
Bloody collapsing floors!
COMPARTMENTS R US!
COMPARTMENTS R US!
The bubbles are deadly
The bubbles are deadly
It gets rather hard here
It starts to get rather hard here
The 'Eagle Men' are back!
I’ve seen you before…
Going in deep now...
Well I’ll be damned
So many guns...
It’s hard to keep a weapon long

I keep dying and end back up with the weak pea shooter. Did I mention this game is double tough?

Interesting boss...
Decent boss but c’mon Konami

The plates come down one at a time and it’s pretty fun to navigate successfully, but I want some more monsters in my Contra bosses, damnit.

Going into the great wide unknown
Going into the wide unknown
Reminiscent of the Waterfall stage
Shades of the Waterfall stage

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I do prefer the Waterfall level in Contra over this one in Super C, but that has been a running theme, no?

Shit gets real here
Shit gets real here
Unbelievably tough
Unbelievably tough
It's not fair...
It’s not fair…
Bombs away!
Bombs away!
Oooh, creepy and ominous
Oooh, creepy and ominous
Alright, I'm digging this
Alright, I’m digging this
Points for something new
Points for something new
How do you not die here?
How do you not die here?
You can't hold me back, Trump!
You can’t hold me back, Trump!
You looking good, Donald
You looking good there, Donald
Now wait a second...
Now wait a second…
You've hit the motherload, Jimbo
You can see the influences Super C had on Contra III
This is not gonna be good...
This is not gonna be good…
This must be Hell all right
This must be Hell all right
Neat bit where you shoot down
Neat bit where you shoot down
It's those spider scorpions!
More ALIEN than ever before!
You remind me of an old pal
You remind me of an old friend
Who could forget the Demon that guarded the top of the Waterfalls?
Who could ever forget this massive monstrosity?
I must have lost 50 lives here
I must have lost 50 lives here
Finally a moment to breathe
Finally a moment to breathe
Rest time is over
Rest time is over
Awesome mini-boss. They don't make 'em like they used to!
Shame they didn’t bring back the demonic giraffe
Super C: Super Cheap?
Super C: Super Cheap?

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Now wait a second...
A worthy sequel albeit super hard

It was nice to finally go through this game last Saturday, even if I did have to enable a cheat code in order to do so. I managed to finish the game with precisely one life remaining. I doubt that I could ever legit beat this game, even if I were to devote 20 years to mastering this game. I love a good hard challenge but this game seems to cross the line and wander into super cheap territory. I do like it a lot, but I just wish it weren’t so damn difficult. It’s so hard that for me it takes away some of the fun if you’re playing this as is. I know there is a camp of Contra fans who prefer Super C to the original. But for me the original will never be touched, outside of Contra III: The Alien Wars that is. Still, Super C stands as a worthy sequel and it’s cool to see the influences it would come to have in Contra III.

Ranking the first three Contra games (Contra Force doesn’t bloody count).

1. Contra III: The Alien Wars
2. Contra
3. Super C

PS- Remember the creepy commercial? See below.