NES O-R

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Pac-Man - By Tengen

Certain games need no introduction and such is the case with Pac-Man. This highly successful maze game has been ported and cloned more than any other game out there. For the uninitiated, in Pac-Man you control the titular character through a maze eating dots until the maze is cleared before moving to the next stage. In between certain stages, intermissions play to give the player a little respite (and some entertainment) before continuing the game. Of course, the game would offer no challenge if it weren’t for the presence of four pesky ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde) who chase Pac-Man through the maze making every effort to stop him from clearing the maze. Thankfully, Pac-Man does have a way to turn the tables around on the ghosts. If he manages to eat one of the four power pellets at the corners of the maze, he can eat the ghosts for a brief period of time. The more ghosts Pac-Man manages to heat, the higher the bonus for each ghost eaten. In addition to the ghosts, certain bonus items (fruits, Galaxians, keys, and others) appear under the ghost pen in the center of the maze. These indicate the level at which the game is being played and their bonus value increases with each level the player advances. The NES port captures all the elements of the arcade and does it very well. Instead of stretching the maze horizontally, as many other home ports do, the maze maintains the same aspect as it does on the arcade with the score, extra lives, and bonus item indicator appearing on the right side of the screen. If you want to play a good game of Pac-Man, look no further.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Pac-Mania - By Tengen

So, how do you refresh Pac-Man? Well, you make it an isometric game, of course! Pac-Man’s success led to new variations on the theme by introducing Ms. Pac-Man and Jr. Pac-Man, among others, but those sequels had different main characters. With Pac-Mania, Pac-Man returns to the table but this time on a pseudo-3D environment that includes four different environments as well as new ghost enemies to deal with. The goal of the game remains the same as in the original, clear all the dots on the maze while avoiding the ghosts and eating bonus items. Power pellets on the corners of the maze give Pac-Man the ability to eat the ghosts but Pac-Man has a new trick that he didn’t have before - he can jump over the ghosts to avoid them if they get too close to him. Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde are all here but they are not alone. Sue has joined them, though she is now purple in color, and so have Funky, a green ghost that can also jump, and Spunky, a gray ghost that also jumps. Sue not only has a different color on Pac-Mania, she also has a different attitude and ability - she hones in Pac-Man and she has super speed to follow him. The bonus items include the traditional type but also some that give Pac-Man extra abilities such as speed boosts or a point multiplier. The four environments in the game are Pac-Man’s Park (an isometric version of the original maze), Block Town (a Lego-like maze), Sandbox Land (walls made of pyramids), and Jungly Steps (pathways with no railings that resemble steps). All of these elements are effectively captured by this NES port, making it an excellent adaptation of the arcade original.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Pitfall: The Unofficial Adventure – By Neverware

Anybody with even a basic familiarity with retro gaming knows about Pitfall, whether they’ve played it on the 2600, the Apple iPhone or one of the many, many systems in between. This particular homebrew is based on the original version release for the 2600 and even if it’s not quite close enough to the real thing there are some nice features in there. For those of you who haven’t played Pitfall, it’s pretty simple, you control Pitfall Harry, an explorer searching for hidden treasures in the jungle. You’re free to move either to the left or the right in order to explore more of the jungle and the playfield itself is split into two levels: the jungle itself and the underground, which you can travel to with ladders and holes and the ground. While you’re searching for the treasure you’ll have to be careful to avoid all the hazards across the jungle. You’ve got logs to jump over, vines to swing across, alligators to jump across and random bonfires that the game never cares to explain just who lit them. Your only goal, for the most part, is to find all the treasures hidden across the jungle and to boost your score as high as you can before the end of the game. This happens after you use your three lives or you expend the twenty minutes you’re given, whichever comes first. This NES version looks and plays pretty similarly to the Atari original with one major change. Unlike the Atari version you’re free to control Harry’s jump while you’re in the air, something you couldn’t do in the Atari version. You also have the option of creating your own custom jungle to play through once you finish the one included. Unfortunately, there’s no sound, which means you have to play the game in eerie silence!

Review by Bobinator

5/10

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 Pro Wrestling – By Nintendo

Pro Wrestling takes us back to an era before wrestling needed storywriters to sell matches, when two skilled wrestlers could sell a Pay-Per-View with nothing but their talent and athleticism. One of Nintendo’s “black box” sports titles, Pro Wrestling was one of the first games to simulate professional wrestling on the NES, and you won’t find elaborate storylines or backstage drama in this game. What you have instead is wrestling at its core: an exhibition of body slams, high-flying stunts, and thrilling mat work. In Pro Wrestling, the storywriters keep their pens capped and let the stars get to work. Speaking of which, you have six characters to choose from, and most of them are designed to look like popular wrestlers. Fighter Hayabusa resembles the Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki, and Kin Corn Karn must be Killer Khan’s evil twin. There are some more generic wrestlers like Star Man, who wears a luchador mask, and The Amazon, who appears to have stumbled in off the set of Creature from the Black Lagoon. Each wrestler has a unique move set and can perform finishers like King Slender’s back breaker and Giant Panther’s iron claw. In addition, you can kick and punch with the A and B buttons and execute body slams and suplexes from the tie-up. Most of the moves are easy to pull off, but overall the game suffers from mediocre collision detection, so quite often you’ll find yourself missing an enzuigiri or clothesline that you swear should’ve connected. When you’ve worn your opponent down, you can win the match by pinning him for the three-count. Pro Wrestling is not the deepest wrestling game out there, but it’s a good effort nonetheless, and you can still pick this one up and have fun with it.

Review by wyldephang

7/10

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  Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – By Sculptured Software / Virgin

Movie-to-game adaptations don’t always fare well. Often a studio will try to shoehorn too much of the original content into the game, resulting in decisions that simply don’t make sense from a gameplay perspective. The veteran programmers at Sculptured Software were certainly up to the task when they were asked to develop a game based on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, but were they able to do it justice? For the most part, the game direction is solid. The narrative flows in a sensible manner for an NES game and the dialogue is done well. The tone is appropriately grim, and you can really feel how the kingdom has suffered under the ironfisted rule of the Sheriff of Nottingham. The game builds him into a terrific villain. In accordance with medieval standards on conflict resolution, duels are commonplace throughout the game, but the combat engine feels clumsy as the hit detection is inconsistent and movement is stiff. Sometimes, you can use the environment to your advantage and have your opponent stand on a table while you hack away at his kneecaps. I guess Robin Hood didn’t earn the epithet Prince of Thieves playing by the rules. The majority of the game plays like a top-down action-adventure title, where you defeat enemies and interact with NPCs in the overworld. There is an inventory system that allows you to equip weapons and use items like bandages, and as you progress through the game, you’ll assemble a party of Merry Men who accompany you into battle during free-for-all skirmishes. Though the game employs many different play styles, not a single one of them feels particularly fleshed out, and the lack of a save feature is just frustrating. Overall, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is an ambitious project, but a little underwhelming.

Review by wyldephang

6/10

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 Rolling Thunder - By Tengen

On this adaptation of the arcade game of the same name, you play the role of Albatross, a member of the World Crime Police Organization’s Rolling Thunder espionage unit. You have been tasked with rescuing Leila Blitz, a missing female agent who has been captured by Geldra, a secret society located in New York. There are a total of 10 stages that Albatross must cross to reach Leila. When Albatross starts his mission he is only equipped with a standard-issue gun. As he moves through the stages, he can replace his gun with an automatic rifle to makes shooting the bad guys easier. Each stage has two floor levels that Albatross can jump to and from, making the game more interesting. One key thing to remember, is that your ammo is limited, so you must explore rooms behind doors in order to find more ammo and even weapons. You enemies are the hooded Geldra soldiers known as “Maskers.” They are dressed in different colors to give you a sense of their abilities. You will also face mutants, ninjas, Blogas, panthers, and lava men. Be careful because Albatross is not wearing any armor and he can be killed rather easily forcing you to start the level again. I am happy to say that the NES port is able to capture the action of the arcade game pretty well. Though the graphics had to be simplified some, all the characters are easy to recognize. The game music is also present and the sound effects have been well reproduced. You do have the ability to save a password so you can start the game at the level you left off. Overall, this is a very good port of an excellent arcade game. Now go rescue Leila!

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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