NES V-Z

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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  WWF WrestleMania – By Rare / Acclaim

The WWF’s maiden voyage into video games got off to a shaky start with WWF WrestleMania, a game that barely resembles the product it is named after. The diminutive roster of six wrestlers consists of 1980s staples like Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, so even though there isn’t much variety, you probably couldn’t have asked for a stronger six. The wrestlers look fairly accurate for the most part, and most of the wrestlers have unique animations which help distinguish them from the rest of the roster. Andre has his “big boot” kick, for instance, and Bam Bam Bigelow can do cartwheels. It’s a nice feature to have different move sets for each character, but they’re not implemented particularly well in WWF WrestleMania. Though you can execute body slams and go for attacks off the top rope, neither is easy to perform and you’ll spend most of the match flailing your limbs at your opponent and watching them do the same to you. When you’ve finally felled your adversary, you’ve got to finish the match by pinfall, but even this is difficult to pull off reliably because the spacing and hitbox detection are so overly strict. And besides, the pin feels like it’s needlessly tacked onto a game that doesn’t much resemble wrestling to begin with. The gameplay is stiff, and the emphasis is on button mashing rather than strategy. Where does that place WWF WrestleMania? It’s not much of a wrestling game, and it doesn’t hold its own as a fighting game either. Though Rare got some things right with the presentation, WWF WrestleMania is one of the WWF games that even a hardcore fan should skip. There would be better wrestling games for the NES ahead.

Review by wyldephang

5/10

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  WWF WrestleMania Challenge – By Rare / LJN

In the almost two years between WWF WrestleMania and WrestleMania Challenge, the WWF had grown considerably with new rivalries heating up. Appropriately, Rare expanded the roster to nine wrestlers for WrestleMania Challenge, including fan favorites like “Ravishing” Rick Rude and future Hall of Famer Ultimate Warrior. Whereas the previous game bore little to no resemblance to professional wrestling, the effort is a little more authentic to the source this time around. You can strike your opponents, slam them, and perform finishers with relative ease, so your matches will flow a lot like a typical wrestling bout. Though a vast improvement over the previous game, there are still some flaws that must be addressed: the hit detection is still a little sloppy and the movement feels clumsy due to the isometric viewing angle. If you can adapt to the controls, however, it’s easy to sit down with a friend and have fun matches. There is a two-player co-operative tag team story mode added to the game as well, so you and a second player can vie for championship gold together. It’s a great concept—especially for an early wrestling game—but Rare almost kills the experience by forcing the players to use two generic characters named “Yourself.” Was there any reason that we couldn’t pick Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” instead of these plain-looking stand-ins? Probably not. All things considered, WrestleMania Challenge is far from the best wrestling game on the NES, but it’s an improvement over its predecessor and is truer to the WWF product. If you’re expecting a perfect wrestling sim, look elsewhere, but if you want to relive what it was like to be a WWF fan in 1990, then WrestleMania Challenge offers that trip down memory lane to a time when all of us were Hulkamaniacs.

Review by wyldephang

6/10

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  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – By Nintendo

Generally speaking, video game studios avoid making radical changes when they have a winning formula at hand, but Nintendo reinvented the entire Zelda game engine for the greatly anticipated sequel to The Legend of Zelda. While the previous game was an overhead action-adventure game, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link combines side-scrolling action-platforming gameplay with RPG elements. The concept of visiting dungeons and collecting items to advance the quest still remains unchanged, but Link now has a magic meter and can learn spells in addition to the items he acquires. Some spells and items are found in the numerous towns sprinkled around the map. A first for the Zelda series, towns are populated by NPCs who interact with Link and share secrets. Another first is the experience system. You gain experience by defeating enemies and you can spend it to upgrade Link’s health, magic, or attack power. You can essentially build up Link to suit your play style. With experience points and leveling comes the necessary evil of grinding, but you won’t spend too much of the story mode doing it because there are plenty of enemies along the way. You’ll encounter monsters on the world map or in dungeons, and you’ll fight them in side-scrolling mode by pressing B to attack and A to jump. Any damage you take in combat will drain your HP, forcing you to use magic to restore your energy, so dungeons effectively become endurance gauntlets where you have to fend off enemies on limited health and magic reserves. Some enemies die in one or two whacks while others will absorb many more. Difficult and puzzling at times, Zelda II nonetheless deserves special recognition in the Zelda franchise for deviating so far from the formula and still amounting to something gamers can enjoy.

Review by wyldephang

8/10

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