Posts Tagged ‘nes’

Hey Retro Fans!

I try my best to not use my blog for advertising my other projects but this information is awesome for any retro gamers. I have not been quiet about the fact that Final Fantasy II is my favorite game/RPG of all time. One of the most memorable songs on the soundtrack is the one that plays at the title screen and in the “Crystal Rooms”. It’s a harp that plays rising and falling notes in a very pretty key. This song was named by its creator, Nobuo Uematsu, as “Prelude”.

At my DJ desk, I had been helping my daughter get the ropes of writing music by giving her sheet music and letting her play around in the studio. While she was working on Hot Cross Buns, I remembered that I had wanted to remix the FF Prelude song many years ago and I dug out my copy of the score. After a few days of working, I managed to create my own remix of this classic song. Here is the link. Tell me what you think!

Hope you enjoy it!

Megaman 3 and the Rise of Rush

Despite my classes starting back up, I have been able to do a couple of retro game replays. I decided to continue on my Megaman kick by replaying Megaman 3 and 4. I may get to 5 before I get too busy but we’ll see. So here’s a nice little review of Megaman 3 for you all.


The story is pretty much the same as it was before – Dr. Light has something good, Dr. Wiley steals it, Megaman has to go save the world. This time, the story focused on Dr. Light creating a new cyborg construct known as Gamma which would supposedly help fight Dr. Wiley’s robot masters in the future. As soon as Dr. Wiley got wind of this, he launched a technique to steal Gamma (how he steals something that big without anyone noticing, I don’t know). Once again, Dr. Light calls Roll to don the blue helmet and become Mega Man to battle the monsters and restore order. Of course, Megaman happily accepts the requests and dashes off to face 8 robot masters and retrieve Gamma.


Much like the other Megaman series’ games, Megaman 3 features exactly what you would expect. You face the robot masters in a series of themed worlds. Once you beat them, Megaman acquires their power and uses it to face off against other robot masters. One interesting change that occurred in this game that has stuck with the rest of the series (even up to the MMZ era) is the introduction of the ‘slide’ technique. A player can press down and the jump button and Megaman will turn sideways and slide through small crevices in the game. In some cases, the player cannot even pass a section of the level without using the technique.

This game also features the first appearance of Protoman (named Breakman for some reason) who is later revealed to be Megaman’s brother. For some reason, Protoman will randomly show up in the game at various points in the game when Megaman lands in certain rooms. You will know he is coming when you hear a high-pitched whistle melody and the screen seems to freeze temporarily. Protoman will leap down dressed in purple with a scarf and shield and begin attacking you. At some point, presumably when he has taken enough damage, he will disappear, usually breaking a hole in the room so that you can continue on.

Another new addition that remained within the Megaman world until Megaman X was the famous mechanical canine, Rush. Rush is used to replace the previously strange named Item-1, Item-2 and Item-3 from Megaman 2 and takes one one of three forms: Rush Coil which is basically a giant spring, Rush Marine – a literal doggy submarine, and Rush Jet  – one of the most useful (and easily abused) tools in the game – a rocket platform that you can ride around on. When using Rush, Megaman will change into the Red/White motif from Megaman 2’s Item-1/2/3 library but when you click the attack button, rush will teleport down as whatever function you chose much like Megaman teleports upwards when leaving a stage. Just like the other weapons Megaman accquires, using Rush will deplete your energy and you will need to grab power-ups to restore it. Also, like the Items from Megaman 2, Megaman does not start with all of Rush’s forms, they are added to your inventory after beating various robot bosses. Speaking of which…

Robot Masters

Following the recipe of the other successful Megaman series, MM3 features 8 robot masters, each with the eponymous ‘Man’ at the end of their element: Magnet Man, Gemini Man, Spark Man, Hard Man, Shadow Man, Top Man, Needle Man, and Snake Man. Once you complete the Robot Master’s stage, you face the robot master himself. As in other installments, certain bosses are weak against the weapon of another boss even though one could conceivably beat them with the Mega Buster, Mega man’s default blaster weapon. One interesting change this time around is that once Megaman beats the robot boss, he leaps to the center of the room and several energy orbs encircle him before they are absorbed into his body – the first time we see him ‘gaining’ the ability of his foe.

Upon completing the battles with all 8 bosses, the player would assume that they would be taken to Dr. Wiley’s castle but this is not the case. The four corners of the ‘boss grid’ are replaced with darkened images of robots replacing the portrait of the original robot master. When you select that stage, the fanfare screen that usually presents the picture of the robot master is replaced with an orange question mark. These stages are known as the ‘Dark Robot Master’ stages which are essentially harder versions of the original stages (Spark Man, Gemini Man, Needle Man and Shadow Man). At the halfway point and the end of these stages, you face a ‘Dark Robot Master’ which is basically a doppelganger robot that takes on the powers of the robot bosses from Megaman 2. The sprite of the old robot will float down into the body of the dark robot master and you will have to fight them as they were in MM2.

Once you vanquish all the Dark Robot Masters, the “Stage Select” screen changes again and now you see a picture of Protoman (Break Man) and you must face him again. The battle with Protoman is short lived and as usual, he runs away after a certain amount of damage is taken. FINALLY you are able to move on to Wiley’s castle. Just like the other games, you have to beat various challenges that are essentially harder versions of various robot masters stages and a range of weird bosses that must be vanquished. You have to face off against all the old Robot Masters from earlier in the standard ‘teleport tube’ room. You also have to face off against a weird three-copy Megaman clone. Finally, you face Wiley himself.

Dr. Wiley and the End Sequence

The fight with Wiley is much like many other fights with him. You first encounter a HUGE robot with a platform to climb and face. Once can guess by the symbol on the robot, this is Gamma which Dr. Light claimed was stolen. After you beat Gamma, Wiley’s UFO lands inside of Gamma’s body and you face a more powerful version of Wiley. After the battle is over, Wiley falls to the ground and appears to be begging for mercy. When you approach, however, his head pops off like a jack-in-the-box and you realize you have been duped. The stage ends and you have one more level of Wiley’s castle to beat before you face the real madman.

After another longish battle, Wiley finally gives up and throws himself on the floor to beg for mercy. This time it is legit. However, as you approach, giant debris fall on both Megaman and Wiley and you see a weird cloaked robot leap down and bust the blocks. The screen fades to black and Megaman wakes up to find himself in Dr. Light’s office. Dr. Light explains that Wiley’s castle was destroyed but nobody could find Megaman. Suddenly he appeared asleep at Light’s lab. I wonder who did this? I will give you two guesses but you will only need one.

At this point the credits roll in the now standard ‘asteroid belt’ fashion with a stripe in the middle of the screen as the various pen names of the MM3 creators are scrolling. Finally you reach the famous ‘Presented by Capcom’ screen and the credits are over. End Game.


Megaman 3 is a fun game and is a solid addition to the Megaman lineup. Each of the robot masters is unique and different and their stages require some good finger punching skills. This is easily one of the hardest games in the series thus far and is also one of the longest in the history of the game. I found that many of the platforms and challenges felt overly hard and you literally were just panting for breath hoping you could get through to the next level without dying. There are several jumps that will not work unless you stand PERFECTLY before you go. There are some areas where you really can’t get around without your various Rush accessories and even then it can be very hard.

I did find, however, that if you were to use the Rush Jet frequently in the various platforms of death that you could pretty much avoid all trouble. I guess that is why the usage of this ability is highly limited. As a play test, I turned on the code to allow me to have unlimited use of the Rush jet and I found that the game became pitifully easy. Of course, once I tested this, I turned off the cheat and started various stages over. The mechanic of the Rush Jet can be great but can also be heavily abused. I also felt sad that you don’t use a majority of the weapons you acquire other than for one or two bosses. Even then, you only use a limited amount of abilities, most often the Shadow Star (from Shadow Man) and the Magnet Missiles (from Magnet Man).

I think that the introduction of Rush was a great way to unify the support items from the series but I wonder if it caused the game to become unbalanced. Throughout the rest of the Megaman series (up to Megaman X), Rush remains a very critical character even though the methods used to summon him change but to what end? I think Capcom tried their best to balance the challenges of the game with the unique usage of tools/items but sometimes it seems a little extreme – why can’t I find a different way to get through this one stage without using the Rush Marine? (for example). But all in all, the game’s challenge was well worth the effort.

In conclusion, Megaman 3 was definitely a turning point in the NES franchise and added several new features that were eventually added to the ‘recipe’ for the next 4 games. You will find the game quite challenging not only from a navigation perspective but also from a sheer volume of effort it will require to stick it out to the end. Unfortunately, the end is not uplifting enough to make up for the effort required but it will certainly be a badge of effort to run this one from start to conclusion.


Faxanadu – Dwarves Elves and Evil Oh My!

I told you all that I was digging into the barrel of NES games that I wanted to complete now that my JNES emulator is working. I just finished off another one of them last night. The platform-RP (picking up on a trend yet?) Faxanadu by Hudson Soft.


Faxanadu centers around an unnamed hero who evidently did something great for the land of Faxanadu many years ago and then he just left and journeyed the world. Well, when the game starts, he has come back to his hometown to find that it is overrun by monsters and there is evidently a war going on between the elves and the dwarves (I think the hero is considered an Elf but you can’t tell). This guy is so well known that the King of the Elves calls him to his throne immediately. He tells the hero that the wells of life that keep the Elves alive have started to dry up and now all the dwarves have become monsters. Man! It’s a good thing the hero came home! Evidently there is some meteorite that fell from space and has corrupted the Dwarves and you have to fix it.

So as the adventure goes on, your hero travels throughout the world of Faxanadu setting right what is wrong. He must restore the water flowing to the wells of life and also figure out just what’s got the dwarves so mad. You adventure through a series of ‘towns’ where you gather information and items and then you travel to various towers (dungeons), the completion of which will either restore a fountain, provide a powerful item needed to restore order or simply give you more clues about what happened.


Faxanadu is light years ahead of its time (common for HudsonSoft games) and features a great gameplay, an extensible item system, magic and weapons. The music is pretty good for an 8bit 1988 game. The world features several different environments and color palettes and a wide variety of interesting puzzles. One thing that REALLY jumped out to me is that the store owners you meet have FULL MOTION ‘portrait’ screens when you speak to them. The tools owner is a portly man with a beard who reminds me of Bill Dautrieve from King of the Hill whose mouth and belly moves as he talks. The key shop owner reminds me of Billy Idol and has a moving cigarette in his mouth. The ‘guru’ in each of the town’s churches looks like an elf from the Hobbit (sans ears of course) with curly hair and the meat salesman reminds me of an older Ned Flanders with a bald spot. At the time that this game was created, there were NO portraits that I can recall and certainly not portraits that moved as you talked.

Your hero can choose from a finite but useful set of actions. He can attack with his various swords (the looks of which actually changed based off the sword you have), he can cast one of 5 spells (you must buy these over time) by pushing the Up arrow and attack, and you can jump. Certain special items such as the keys have no visible change when equipped, you will either receive a messages that the door has a keyhole with the words “Jack” or “King” etc. above the keyhole or (if you have equipped the correct key) you will simply see a message that says “I used the key” and it is removed from your inventory. There are 5 different keys you can acquire through various means: The most common key is the Jack Key (listed as Key J in inventory), the Joker Key (listed as Key JO in inventory), the Queen Key (listed as Key Q), the King Key (listed as Key K) and the super-special Ace key (listed as Key A). Each door will only accept ONE key, you cannot use a higher ranking key (aka King Key to open a Jack door) on a lower ranking door and vice versa. You can acquire a J Key, Q Key, and K Key from the various key makers (different towns have different keys) but you can only acquire the Joker key and the Ace key from special people at certain points in the game.

Outside of these things, you basically jump, hack, blast (magic), and climb (ladders) your way around the game. You face enemies such as Duckmen, Death Angels, Hornets, Frogmen, Gladiators, and my personal favorite for messed up names – the Bone Demon Dog… yes… that is what he is called. Your character can collect golds (that’s actually what they are called) which he uses to buy armor, spells, potions, keys, etc. He also can collect ointments which will restore his HP and make him auto-heal for a brief period of time, he can collect a power glove that will make his attacks stronger for a short period of time, and a few other things. You can also purchase a unique item called the Wing Boots (I usually buy a few pair when I find them in a store) which will allow you to float around for a brief period of time and are required to use in one particular event in the game (flying to restore the water to the sky fountain). There are various rings you are given that allow you to enter certain doors and will also be required to speak to certain people.

As you progress, your hero can purchase stronger weapons and stronger magic and eventually acquire 3 pieces of magical equipment (The Battle suit, the Battle Helm and the Dragonslayer sword) which are required to beat the final boss. When you equip new armor or weapons, the character’s appearance changes accordingly which was rare in those days. You start out looking like some sort of Roman man in a toga and end up looking like a true knight. Once you have restored all the fountains and acquired the Battle Suit and Battle Helm, you must square off against the King Dwarf (who is later revealed to be named Grieve) who has hidden the Dragonslayer sword in his body to protect it from the Evil One. You defeat King Dwarf and receive the Dragonslayer and now you can pound on the Evil One.

So after getting a magic ring from the last guru, you enter the confusing, though relatively short, final dungeon. You make your way to the core of the Evil One’s palace and defeat him. Once he is defeated, the dwarves are no longer possessed and order is restored. What does the hero do now? Easy! He just leaves again after getting a gracious thank you from the King of the Elves. The hero is seen walking away from the Tree of Life and Faxanadu and the game ends.


As I  mentioned earlier, Faxanadu was a game that was well ahead of its time. It did an amazing job at using the full graphic power of the 8-Bit NES system and its sound processor. The world is relatively lush for 8-bit and contains a wide variety of enemies and puzzles. If you haven’t understood how awesome it is to see a full character portrait when you speak to shop-keepers, let me remind you that this is NINTENDO, this is 1988. Sure, you might see a full screen graphic for the title screen of a game and maybe a fancy full screen for a major scene or the end sequence but that’s it. Faxanadu did it. Granted, the shopkeepers ALL look the same based on the shop they run but it’s’ still cool.

Much like Castlevania 2, the world of Faxanadu is relatively open. Granted, you will eventually be blocked by a door or other barricades at the end of certain areas but otherwise you can pretty much cruise around the world in no particular order. You could use the J key on a different door, for instance, and go to a different part of the game. Overall, you can explore a large part of the game map without any issue at all.

The fact that the game features in-game menus to allow you switch between different items, armor, and magic makes it more similar to an RPG than a platformer even though the battles always occur in real-time instead of turns. The equipment and spells, though limited, offer a great variety to the game play and make it easy to try multiple different ways to defeat a bad guy until you find the way that you prefer. The more enemies you beat, the gurus will provide you different titles which become more unique as the game progresses until you reach the class of “Champion” which can be considered as a character advancement (though it doesn’t actually impact play). Overall, the game features many RPG elements that became the staple of the genre even to modern day games.

All in all, Faxanadu is a fun game. It is well translated with virtually no “Engrish” found within the script. The story is a bit strange and leaves some to be desired in the motivational department but not enough to bore the player. The platforms and puzzles of the game are just challenging enough to require precision but not so much so that the games seems overly difficult. I found that the range of enemies was decent enough for a game of the era and the different environments are also interesting to the player. The game may not offer too much in replay value for high-end gamers or those seeking a mind bending challenge but for a retro gamer boy just wanting to relive the old world of games, it won’t disappoint.

Until next time, this is Retro Gamer Boy signing off!


Castlevania 2 – A Game Ahead of Its Time

One of the most prominent games in the Castlevania line of games is the famous “Symphony of the Night” for the Playstation. If you look at the original Castlevania game that started its life as an arcade game (which I easily spent hundreds of dollars in quarters playing in my hometown’s skating rink/arcade) and compare it to SOTN, you might say that you have no idea how the game progressed from here to there.  Believe it or not, it all started with the NES title Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest.

The Story

The premise of the game seems pretty simple. After Simon Belmont battled the famous Count Dracula at the end of the original game, he managed to beat Dracula but it left a curse on the land. Now, when night falls, people in the area become zombies and werewolves and all kinds of wonderfully nasty things. Simon decides that if he collects all of the pieces of Dracula (his rib, his heart, his eye, and his ring) and resurrects him, then kills him again, the curse will end. Sounds logical right? Well that’s what he does. Unlike the original game, this game takes place in a world that allows you to travel all over the ‘world’ to collect Dracula’s pieces. There is some logical order as you need certain things to get certain other things that will be needed to complete the game but otherwise the world is pretty open.

A game that features an ‘open world’ concept is pretty much standard fare for most modern games but back in 1988, such things were unheard of. The game also has a timer feature that makes the game fade from day to night and then back again – also rather rare in the time this game was created. If you take out those elements, the game plays very similar to the original games. You play Simon Belmont who looks mostly the same as he did in the original. You still have the Vampire Killer, the famous expanding whip of the Belmont clan even though you have to locate characters throughout the game to expand it (leather, chain, long chain, morning star and finally flame whip) instead of picking up power-ups. You still have the list of ‘thrown weapons’ which is familiar to the original and you still break through walls with the holy water as in the first game. A majority of the world is still in platforms as the game is famous for and many of the enemies remain there and are largely unchanged. However, it is at this point that the similarities end.

Trying New Things

The first new things one will find is the use of ‘towns’ which look just like regular levels (ripe with platforms and stairs) but with people and different music. You can find townspeople who will either lie to you or offer you very cryptic hints about the game (which may also be lies). You will find ‘cloaked men’ scattered around towns that will sell you items for ‘hearts’ (the same ones you use to fire your weapons). Often these guys will be hiding in buildings that appear empty until you drop some holy water on the floor and break through. Sometimes they will even appear in mansions (which are like the dungeons of the game but will be discussed later) and may not appear at all until you do a certain thing (such as dropping some garlic on the ground). They always sell you items that you must use to complete the game and sometimes they will offer you refills of perishable items such as laurels. The game also features colored crystals of varying degrees that do everything from open secret doors to create platforms in mansions that would otherwise make the stage impassible.

Another feature that is new are the ‘mansions’ which are essentially the dungeons of the game. The owners of these mansions must be creepy as they tend to hide pieces of Dracula in their mansions and hire monsters to guard them. I mean, really, would you just like to have Dracula’s eye chilling in a vase at your house? It would likely be a freaky conversation piece. So within these mansions, you basically hack and slash your way through countless monsters and occasionally a boss or two. Somewhere in the mansion is one of those cloak-covered merchants who will sell you an Oak Stake. You use this oak stake when you finally reach the blinking orb that contains the piece of Dracula in that mansion. Shatter the orb and take the part and move on. That’s what you do with each mansion.

The Final Boss

After you have completed all of the mansions in the game and have collected all pieces of Dracula, you can start the end game. In the end game portion, you will navigate to the ruins of Dracula’s castle (which is disturbingly close to the original starting city in the game). Despite the insanity of the mansions and the tendency for end game stages to be nightmarish, Dracula’s keep is actually quite short and has NO enemies. I am not kidding, you walk right in, go around a few platform mazes and there is the last room. Kind of anti-climatic if you ask me. Anyway, you will eventually make your way to a pedestal in the keep and the various parts of Dracula will fly off Simon and land in a torch base. The torch lights on fire and old Dracula appears and is ready to fight. Much like the stage that leads to him, Dracula’s battle is very anti-climatic. He basically flies around the room throwing boomerangs or ribs at you. If you hide in the bottom right corner of the screen he usually doesn’t hit you very much. When you land enough hits on the Prince of Darkness, he bursts into flames and disappears. Yay! You have won!


Now here is one of the other areas that is unique to this game and the series at this point – multiple endings. If you complete the game in 8 game days or less (remember the whole day and night thing based off time) you will receive the best ending. If you complete the game in 9-12 game days you get a slightly better ending. Lastly, if you take longer than that, you get the bad ending. In the ‘best’ ending (see my gallery for a screenshot), Simon is kneeling at Dracula’s grave and places a rose on it. The game tells you that the reign of terror is finally over and that peace has been restored. It also tells you that by some creepy magic, the blood and sweat of Simon on the earth will be turned into magic which can be used to defend Transylvania (eww!). After the screen cuts, you see the grave by itself and suddenly an earthquake happens and Dracula’s hand rises from the grave (did you really think they would end this cash cow that easily?). In the ‘okay’ ending, you see the same grave as before but no Simon. We are told that although Simon beat Dracula, he was mortally wounded and soon passes away and that soon enough Dracula will rise again and a new hero will be needed. The last ending tells you that the curse is not broken and now Simon is dead (Gee thanks! That’s reassuring).

Evaluation of the Game

All in all the game was miles ahead of its time and was pulled off quite well given the capability of the NES and the many new methods used in this game. Unfortunately there were some bad issues as well. One glaring thing I noticed is the presence of good Ol’ Engrish. When you shatter each orb to retrieve each Dracula relic, the screen prompts you “You now PROSESS Dracula’s… (insert part).” Prosess? Eh? I have no idea what that word means. Strangely, when you acquire other things such as the red crystal, the game tells you that you “Possess” that item. Looks like the right hand was not talking to the left at this studio. Also, one of the most infamous hints you receive in the game is “You can break a hole in Deborah’s cliff with your head.” What? Is that a sexual innuendo? Truth be told, what you actually do is use crystal at the base of the Debra Cliff to summon a whirlwind to carry you to another mansion. What on earth this has to do with a hole in the cliff I have NO idea. That also explains why few people figured out this trick without some sort of hint or FAQ.

Another common complaint is that the various people Simon encounters in towns (who are supposed to help him solve the riddles) were too cryptic and thus made the game more confusing. There is certainly some merit to that. When I first played this game, I clearly remember being confused constantly and never knowing what to do next (this was back before the internet and GameFAQs). I did call the Nintendo Power hotline a few times but that only served to get me past some of the easier (yet strange) puzzles such as the requirement of kneeling near a lake with a certain crystal to cause the map to scroll down and reveal a secret path to the next area. But I still couldn’t beat it. I finally rented a VHS tape that was the Nintendo Power walk through for Simon’s Quest until I finally found the way to beat the game. Nowadays I could probably find hundreds of guides and videos on YouTube and of course, GameFAQs but that was not the case in those days. You cannot imagine the excitement I had when I finally found Dracula and beat him.

So in summary, Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest is an amazing game for the time and place in which it occurred. It essentially set the stage for many other open-world adventures including paving the way to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night which included an open world, RP elements, many different endings based on performance of the player in the game, riddles and confusion to make the quest more difficult and so on. If you want to rack your brain for a bit in a fun and entertaining game of the NES era, definitely pick this one up!

Megaman 2 Is Still Awesome

Hello readers, I am sure that many of you get upset with my lack of updates to this blog. The truth is that I usually enjoy retro things but rarely give myself time to post about them. However, today is an exception. I am on a brief break before my final Master’s class in February and have been trying to fill it with awesome retro goodness. I dug way down into the retro barrel until I reached my NES games. The first one I picked up? Megaman 2.

Megaman 2 may be 25 years old and legally allowed to drink and smoke but it is still awesome. It was one of the defining moments in the platform genre and easily one of the first NES games after Mario Bros that I became inhumanly obsessed with. Although there is an original Megaman game, it does not have as many of the hallmarks that came with MM2. For instance, MM2 is the first MM game to feature 8 robot masters (the standard for the other games). It also was the first game to feature the ‘look’ of the main character that stayed with the series until it gave way to the Megaman X series. It also featured the use of specialized items that were not obtained from beating a robot master – the humorously vague Item-1, Item-2, and Item-3. In later installments of the game these items because more common and were eventually merged into the Megadog Rush. The original game did not have such items. It also introduced the amazing Energy tank (E Tank) that helped us all survive some of those crazy levels.

I re-played the game over the weekend and found that I still had almost a muscle memory of the levels, jumps and moves that I developed playing the game for 100s of hours as a kid. I still cringed as I ran away from the giant flying dragon that you face during the first level of Wiley’s castle, yelled loudly when I missed a jump by a half of a nanometer and hearing the famous (bloop bloop bloop) noise and rippling circles, and so on. This allowed me to come to the conclusion that even 25 years after it was made, Mega Man 2 is still awesome.

I also want to take a moment to note the awesomeness that is the latest installment of JNES, my flagship emulator. I had been using the 0.82 version for many years but due to some annoying graphical glitches in MM2, I downloaded the 1.1 version. It has a few issues ‘remembering’ some of my settings but it is much more stable than the other version. Also – Game Genie codes are hard coded into the system now. Granted, I only use those codes if I am trying to speed-run something or test a weird hypothesis but rather than digging around on the internet (GameFAQs appears to have discontinued posting Game Genie codes) for hours to find what might not even work in the game, you simply click on the Cheats tab and it will display the list of codes for the specific game you are playing and you simply check or un-check the cheat you wish to use and the gameplay is changed accordingly. How awesome is that?

It only took me about 5 hours of hard playing to get through the MM2 game in its entirety. I failed jumps frequently in the beginning but as my muscle memory warmed back up I noticed that my ability to plan my jumps and motions increased exponentially. Sure, the 8-bit sound effects are deafening even at low volume in high-def headphones and the graphics are nothing compared to even the visual effects on an older cellphone but the challenge and the joy was still there.

I have an extensive library of old school games on the NES that I now wish to play since the graphic glitches appear to have vanished in this JNES install and hope to knock out a few prior to starting my final class. I am certain that I won’t be able to get to all of them but here are a few that I plan to get through:

1. Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest
2. Wizards and Warriors 3: Kuros’ Visions of Power
3. Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link
4. Adventures of Lolo

That’s all for now but perhaps more will follow. This is the RetroGamerBoy saying “Your Princess is in another castle.”

Dragon Spirit – Addictive yet Painful

So, the evil serpent of hell rises up from his pit and decides to strike at your kingdom. He unleashes a horde of dinosaurs on the world that take over land, sea, and air. If that doesn’t suck enough, he steals your princess and is holding her captive. If you were in this situation, what would you do? Well, Amul, the hero of this dazzling shooter that started its life as an arcade game, decided his best course of action would be to pray to the gods for strength. The result? Amul is granted the powers of the Dragon Spirit and can transform into a powerful dragon spirit. When in Rome? Do as the Romans do! Thus is the setting for this highly addictive and surprisingly high quality (audio and video) for the time game.

The game started life as an arcade game and soon found its way to all of the consoles in the console wars of the 90’s. The most widely played version was the Nintendo version and it was this version that I played initially. However, based on the reviews I have read and my own experience, the Turbo Grafx-16 version was the version that was most like the arcade as far as video and audio quality are concerned. It is for this reason that one of my recent purchases on the Wii Virtual Console was the TGx16 version.

The game is designed much like the flying shooter games that made arcade gaming so popular such as Space Invaders and the original Gradius. however, the concept is made different because your character is a dragon not a spaceship and you shoot fireballs not lasers. Power ups include multiple heads (up to three) and different “color” as well as several upgrades to increase your firepower. The green dragon power up is very fast (smaller) and has crazy strong fireballs. The pink dragon is invincible for a short time (like the Star power up in the Mario series). The white dragon is the ultimate in firepower, the flying rail gun – if you have all three heads then he will shoot 3 fireballs at a time out of both right and left heads and will fire 5 fireballs at a time out of his center head… that means 11 shots at once! You also get power ups such as extra “hearts” to take more damage and fire power-ups to allow you to slowly become a flying machine gun.

Now comes the purpose of the title of this entry. So what’s the big deal about the game? It is HIGHLY addictive. Anyone who has ever had a desire to fly will like the concept of soaring over the skies as a dragon, you will further enjoy the dragon aspect if you like Dragons, Knights, and so on. For someone who loves fantasy like me, this was a dead on choice and it just so happened that you have the chivalrous aspect of saving the princess as every good guy should.

However, you will quickly find that as addictive as the game is, it is painfully difficult even on the easiest setting (only available on the NES version). Even with only one head, you are the biggest thing on the screen (aside from bosses) and with three heads, you can imagine how much easier you are to hit when everything around you is shooting at you. To add insult to injury, some enemies explode when hit, some of them are on the ground which requires you to fire a ground bomb at just the right angle and location to destroy them. If that wasn’t enough, the terrain requires you to move all about or run into a rock or other obstacle and be caught by the ‘forward scroll’ of the game. Luckily, you have a series of continues that act like “1-Ups” and allow you to start back where you left off when (trust me, “if” does not fit, it WILL happen) you die. However, you only get 2 of these from the beginning and you can only increase this as you get deeper into the game. Suffice to say, you often use all your continues within the first two stages if you aren’t practiced in the game.

Your dragon battles his way through 8 stages with the final two stages battling through the palace of Zawell the Hades Serpent to face him and save the princess. If you can manage to take on the evil Hades Serpent and kill him, you will transform back to a human and accomplish what every heroic knight could want, marriage to the princess and the rights to be king of the land. Check this game out but be prepared to devote hours upon hours to battling your way through mountains, lava fields, jungles, frozen tundra, and other wonderful terrain. It may take some work but you will find that the reward of the end scenes is well worth it for the retro gamer!