Archive for the ‘Blog Post’ Category

Retro Review: Robocop for the NES


Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Robocop for the NES has received many scathing reviews over the years.  Most reviewers hate the slow moving main character, the game mechanics, the difficulty, and so on.  However, I am here to give a different look on this oft-criticized game.

Robocop on the NES gives the best representation of the first movie in game form.

In the game, you play as the hero Robocop as he roams the streets of Detroit City, stopping crime as he sees.  And the streets are full of criminals who attack the cyborg on sight, unloading their weapons on him, attempting to take him on fist to fist, or even sending attack dogs after him!  Robocop is armed with a pistol, but he will refuse to use it until an enemy attempts to use a weapon against him.  To me, this is fitting as a police officer.  A cop would not use lethal force unless it was used against him, and in game it makes a lot of sense.

Robocop has two forms of life meters to pay attention to.  The first is a time meter, which is how much time he has to clear a stage.  The second is a power meter, which signifies how much damage he can take before failing.  Again, this makes sense in game, as the time meter signifies how much battery power his system is using before he is required to recharge, and power also makes sense for damage taken.

The player can only move left or right, or ascend using stairs,  He has no jumping ability in the game.  Again, this makes sense, as Robocop isn’t exactly the most nimble character in the movies.  One would expect a human body encased in armor and cybernetic parts to not make jumps.  The game also gets criticized because certain players have trouble using stairs to ascend.  I honestly don’t have this issue, and have no problem figuring out the proper angle for Robocop to ascend a stairwell.

The game very loosely follows the events of the movie, with Robocop fighting crime in the streets, saving the mayor from being murdered, taking down a criminal ridden factory, raiding the OCP offices, and finally facing the criminal lords in what looks to be an abandoned construction area.  One of the shortcomings to the game is that it is quite short.  An experienced player will be able to go from the startup screen to final credits in around an hour to an hour and a half.  That being said, the game has a high degree of difficulty, with some stages having a very tight time limit.  This is helped by being to pick up more powerful weapons (but with limited ammunition) along with Time and Power extensions scattered through a level (some of which are required to beat said level).

The game is actually quite fun to play when keeping in mind the original movie and characters, and is only considered not as fun when taken on its own.  With the limitations that Robocop has in the film, this game does a great job of staying true to the core mechanics of the character.  While many critics claim Robocop on the NES was one of the worst things with the Robocop license, I disagree, and present the claim that the worst thing Robocop was ever in was professional wrestling.

 

Oh, don’t believe me?

==============================================================



Nintendo Discontinues NES Classic, Why?


Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Recently Nintendo has announced that they are discontinuing their wildly popular NES Classic Edition, which was just launched in the fourth quarter of 2016.  Nintendo has faced a huge negative backlash over this decision, as many people never had the opportunity to purchase one due to scalpers picking them up immediately and selling them for double to triple the systems MSRP of 59.99.  The question is simple, why?

 

This system had a massive demand, a demand that had not been met yet.  Also, if they had originally planned such a small run, why did they produce it with a second controller as an additional purchase instead of packaged in the unit?  This is a strange decision for a product that was meant to have such a short run.  If you read Nintendos original press release, they simply did not intend it to be a long term product.  However, Nintendo could lose millions of dollars in potential profit with this decision.

 

https _blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com_uploads_card_image_446728_fc201850-9084-4539-bc5c-131f68dc2a93

 

Nintendo. as a corporation, has to know that there still is a huge demand for this product and that consumer trust in the company is damaged since they have developed a history of undersupplying their products at retail.  A possibility is that they have had a third party pull their support and licensing for the system, as it had quite a few third party titles on it.  I find this highly unlikely though, as Nintendo would surely renegotiate license rights in the face of losing a massive amount of profit.  It could be that the system was hacked to support other games not originally on the system, and unlike their other consoles, the NES Classic was not built with a way to update and patch the firmware.  A third possibility is fear that sales of the NES Classic could damage Virtual Console sales on the Nintendo Switch, which seems to be a horrible decision if its the case.

 

No matter what decision, Nintendo has thrown away a huge amount of profit and further damaged their customer faith and trust.  I encourage any readers to contact Nintendo and express your disappointment and anger at this situation.

 

Screenshot (8)

==============================================================



Nostalgia alone cannot make new releases sell


Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

In the past month, we have seen some major retro releases that have flopped.  The release of Double Dragon 4 was huge news, and garnered a lot of talk among the retro gaming community.  Than the game actually released.  And while it definitely had a retro feel, it also felt that the developer forgot how to innovate in the years.  The game replicates the classic NES look, including screen tearing and flickering.  While a nice touch, there should be an option to turn the flicker and tearing on or off.  The enemy variety is painfully low, with way too many recolors.  While there is nothing wrong with keeping the retro look and feel, not taking advantage of a single aspect of the more powerful hardware the game is released on makes no sense if the game isn’t actually running on an NES.  When staying in those strict confines takes away from the game (such as with enemy variety) maybe its time to either take advantage of extra storage or at least look at other games in the NES era that did it right (Battletoads for example had decent variety in baddies).  Double Dragon 4 ended up being a lackluster release and did little to bring more positive attention to the Double Dragon name.  Even the 2012 title Double Dragon Neon did more to improve the standing of Double Dragon than this release.

 

original

 

Capcom, on the other hand, has proven they can take the retro formula and still make a solid game with Mega Man 9 in 2008 and Mega Man 10 in 2010 (has it really been that long?).  These two games had the feel of the NES games, but still took advantage of online modes for addons and online competition as well as some storage for more enemy variety.  However, last year Capcom released the first six Mega Man titles for mobile users of Android and iOS, and this release was another disaster.  The games are barely even playable, even if you are using an external controller for your mobile.  The frames per second are significantly lower than the NES (roughly 15 FPS on phone, vs. roughly 24 FPS on a standard television in the NES era) making for a very jittery experience.  And without an external controller, using a touch screen to play these games is almost impossible.

 

mega-man-12-19-16-2-1024x576

 

It is rather early in 2017, but already we are seeing examples of companies trying to ride the nostalgia and retro hype trains for quick cash.  For every good release like Nintendos NES Classic, or a solid retro style game like Shovel Knight, we are getting duds like Double Dragon 4 and Mega Man Mobile.  Consumers must force these companies to realize without quality product, they will not be buying.  With options like RetroPie around, retro game fans can build their own console rather than purchase tripe, and if the large companies don’t learn this lesson, they will soon see their profits drop.

==============================================================



What the NES Classic means for Nintendo and Retro Gamers


Monday, December 26th, 2016

The big news story this holiday season was the NES Classic, one of the “hot gift items” fir 2016.  It has been nearly impossible to find on shelves, and scalpers are making a bunch of money reselling these systems on eBay.  I have personally yet to find one, but plan on picking one up once the stock issues are eliminated.

where-to-buy-hatchimals-nes-classic-edition

However, the interesting story behind the huge success of the NES Classic is that we could see a change in the way Nintendo handles their classic IPs.  For close to a decade now the only way to play these classics legally was to either own the original release or purchase it via a Nintendo console or handheld on their Virtual Console, and usually both options were a significant expense.  Original carts can be anywhere from 5 to 100 US dollars, and Virtual Console games range from 5 to 10 dollars.  Now, there is an option to get a bundle of 30 games, all solid titles, for an average cost of 2 dollars each.  The value of this system is astounding, and the consumers have spoken:  they want this format.

I believe in 2017 and 2018, we will see two more releases.  I would first expect to see a second NES Classic, perhaps modeled off the US NES 2 Top Loader.  The second unit will likely feature 30 more titles, perhaps this time with a few more third party titles than the original.  Nintendo still has a large collection of first party NES games that could be sold on a second unit, including a few titles that never saw a US release.  Super Mario Bros 2 Lost Levels and Earthbound Zero are a couple obvious choices.  Capcom could supply us with another Mega Man title, and the RPG front could be augmented with Square-Enixs Dragon Warrior, and perhaps the sequel as well.

img00677-495x371

The second release I would expect Nintendo to release would be an SNES Classic.  Many gamers have fond memories of the 16 bit Nintendo console, and considering Sega has already released a mini Genesis with built in games, I would expect Nintendo to bring a well made SNES with 30 built in games, perhaps at an increased price of 69.99.  First party games would definitely include the two Mario World games, Donkey Kong Country, F-Zero, Super Metroid, Zelda LttP, and Starfox.  Third Party options include Mega Man X, Final Fantasy 2 and 3, Street Fighter (or perhaps Mortal Kombat), Castlevania 4, and Contra 4.  With the way the NES Classic is selling, Nintendo could easily develop this type of console for the 2017 holiday season and replicate the amazing success they had this past season.

With the 3DS seeing a major resurgence in sales this holiday season and the amazing sales of the NES Classic, Nintendo has a chance to get their name back in households using cheaper devices, and they should use this to their advantage to convince consumers to purchase their new Switch.  While their flagship consoles from the modern era have been disappointing since the Wii U, they could easily work their way back into the forefront of gaming simply by selling cheaper products like these.

==============================================================



Retro YouTube: Little Miss Gamer


Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Readers of the blog may remember my writeup on Captain S, a Youtube show that ran in the late 2000’s styled in a family friendly sitcom format.  It was the webshow that put a spotlight on PBC Productions.  This next show was their second large gaming show, running 23 episodes.  Named Little Miss Gamer, it was another show that was highly unique among its peers at the time.  Featuring a female lead, it was light on comedy, featuring no swearing just like Captain S (unlike most shows at the time), and had great appeal to someone not wanting to just watch another “angry review show.”

One fantastic skill that the host has is the ability to take you back to the time you were playing these games she features.  The female lead went by either Little Miss Gamer or “Z”, and had an obvious love of the NES and SNES gaming era.  She shows great passion in each video she produced, and her personality is so positive it’s impossible not to let her upbeat attitude affect you as you watch.  Each episode also has a Viewer Mail segment, giving more interaction than your typical YouTube show at the time and also gives the feeling of Z building a rapport with her viewers.

 

Some shows have some small skits done in them, and others feature some of Z’s puppetry work, which is quite well done for the YouTube era it was in.  Also, it felt very fitting for the show to use puppetry in an era that is filled with cheap CG effects, giving it a retro feel.  Production standards are also pretty high for the era, just like Captain S.  PBC Productions put a lot of effort into their camera and sound work, and it shows in each episode as the production values slowly get better and better.

 

Sadly, the show only lasted from October 2007 to 2010, and had a quiet end as PBC ramped down and their crew moved on to different things.  However, that period had  fantastic episodes released with games ranging from the Atari 2600 to the PS2 and X-Box eras, and it shows that while she has moved on to the newer consoles, she has fond memories of the older games.

The full playlist for the entire shows run can be found here, and below is an embedded video of the first episode.  Be sure to check this classic out!

 

==============================================================