Tag Archives: nes
Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters Movie Review
Ecstasy is a trance-like emotion that many consider to be an altered state of consciousness. Zoning in on one particular object and blocking out everything else that surrounds you. An unbreakable focus unlike any other you’ve ever experienced. This is a state that many gamers can relate with, especially those that have had the Tetris bug crawl under their skin.
Last week, I realized that I wasn’t the only person to experience the “Tetris Effect.” After a brief obsession with Tetris a few years back, sometimes my mind would continue to play Tetris without needing to look at the game. Random pieces would drop and I had to sort through them, much like in a real game of Tetris. I was able to spin the pieces, place them, and most importantly, arrange a well to clear four lines at once, a Tetris. Of course, I discovered this after watching the awesome Tetris documentary, Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters.
Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters, released in 2011, is a documentary about the best Tetris players from the United States. As with most documentaries, Ecstasy of Order focused heavily on these characters, all of which had varying, and interesting personalities. Of course, with those personalities came endearing quirks, of which I’m sure some of us also have. Why seek out the best Tetris players in the United States? To make them compete in the first ever 2010 Classic Tetris World Championship.
So, we get to meet a lot of characters and witness not only their personalities, but their history with NES Tetris, and their Tetris strategies. One particular character was only using one button to spin the tetriminos, a handicap that didn’t affect her ability to compete against the best classic Tetris players. One of these characters can be considered a part of the Nintendo World Championships lore; of course, I’m talking about Thor Aackerlund.
Seeing all these players commune to Los Angeles to compete in the 2010 Classic Tetris World Championship was a fantastic journey. Watching them compete once they got there was even better. I genuinely wanted each one of these Tetris players to win the tournament, to claim the title of Tetris World Champion.
It’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. In fact, I feel it rivals The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters as the best gaming documentary ever filmed. I can easily recommend this film to anyone looking to learn more about Tetris. The film – in digital or DVD format – can be purchased from the movie’s official website.
When you have a 7 as the ten thousands’ digit, speak with Launchpad and choose to go back home. Instead of bringing you home, Launchpad will drop you off in a bonus area. Scrooge then must collect gems as Gyro Gearloose throws them out of his copter.
21. Nazo no Murasame Jou/The Mysterious Murasame Castle
I never would have known about The Mysterious Murasame Castle if it weren’t for the inclusion of the Takamaru’s Ninja Castle attraction in Nintendo Land. The game, set in Japan, features an overhead view that makes it look similar to The Legend of Zelda; however, The Mysterious Murasame Castle focuses on action over adventure. Its stages are linear, contained experiences, unlike the open-world of The Legend of Zelda. Also, taking inspiration from the Japanese culture gives the game a unique feel.
11. Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi (Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light)
The Fire Emblem series just recently enjoyed a release on the Nintendo 3DS with Fire Emblem Awakening, but the series got its start on the Famicom. Fire Emblem on the Famicom is the turn-based, strategy RPG that you know and love, albeit with less features. Even though the Famicom game is much more basic than recent Fire Emblem titles, I immediately got sucked into its challenging, tactical gameplay all over again. This game also introduced Marth, whom is arguably the most recognizable character in the Fire Emblem series.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Nintendo’s Family Computer (Famicom) console, better known to us westerners as the Nintendo Entertainment System. For the most part, both consoles received the same games including classics like Super Mario Bros. 3 and DuckTales. However, the Japanese audience got to enjoy a multitude of games that never made an appearance in North America. To celebrate the Famicom’s 30th anniversary, I’ve decided to compile a list of 30 awesome Famicom games that didn’t come to North America.
Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link Review
The Adventure of Link is the second game in the Zelda series, and sequel to the NES classic, The Legend of Zelda. However, Zelda II isn’t exactly a carbon copy of the original like most sequels tend to be; in fact, it changes up the formula quite a bit. Zelda II is widely known to be the black sheep of the Legend of Zelda series. Its gameplay style differs the most from other Zelda games, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is a bad game.
As a direct sequel, Zelda II takes place a few years after the defeat of Ganon. Even though the king of evil was defeated, his presence is still felt throughout Hyrule. Seeking to revive their master, Ganon’s minions cast a spell on Zelda, one that puts her in an eternal slumber. With Zelda out of the way, the minions seek the three pieces of the Triforce to resurrect Ganon. It becomes necessary for them to annihilate Link and steal the Triforce that he bears. Link learns of Zelda’s misfortune and sets out to break the spell and wake her from her slumber.
Already possessing two pieces of the Triforce, Link has to find the third piece to help the princess. The last piece, Courage, resides inside the Great Palace, which is blocked by a mysterious energy. Gaining entrance isn’t an easy task as Link has to set crystals in six statues, each overlooked by one of Ganon’s guardians. It is only after defeating the guardians and setting the crystals that Link can venture inside the Great Palace.
Upon starting the game you will notice right away that Zelda II plays much differently from its predecessor. Zelda II begins without pulling any punches by throwing you directly into the sidescrolling perspective. This is something that you will have to get used to quickly because this is how the majority of the game is played. Link does navigate an overworld with an overhead perspective, but this only occurs when traveling between towns, palaces, caves, etc. Link can not battle enemies or collect items in the overworld as it’s mainly used to connect the world.
The majority of this adventure will take place in the sidescrolling view. When touching enemies, caves or palaces, Link will enter a sidescrolling action stage, but more on that in a little bit. Towns also play their first big role in a Zelda game. They are explored in the sidescrolling perspective, much like the action stages, but contain depth that you wouldn’t normally expect in a sidescroller. Link can talk to the villagers, heal, and learn new magic: things you would expect to experience in a town from an RPG. Link may also get hints to help him throughout his journey, making it worthwhile to chat with everyone.
Let’s get back to the action stages. Link fights much differently in this game because of the sidescrolling perspective. He can stab high with his sword, or low while ducking, and even jump – helpful when using new sword techniques. There is an upwards stab and a downwards stab that can be learned, both can only be done after pressing the jump button. Combat is varied as there are a number of different enemies and bosses each with their own pattern. Without mastering these techniques you may have trouble defeating some enemies.
Aside from sword combat, Link can also utilize magic for the first time in the series. There are a total of eight spells including: Life to refill your health, Shield to halve damage, and Thunder to destroy all on-screen enemies. There is a magic meter which will limit the amount of spells you can cast, an element seen in many Zelda games since. It’s also noteworthy to mention that Magic pretty much replaces the item mechanic of the first game, which is severly missed. Regardless, all of the above elements make for a deep, different, and enjoyable combat experience.
Zelda II can be a hard game and it boils down to certain design elements chosen for the game. I think Link controls well in both combat and jumping, so I wouldn’t necessarily blame the controls. However, the game can become frustrating when learning enemy patterns, platforming sections, or when there are multiple enemies on-screen. In these situations it’s best to be patient and advance wisely. Link can also utilize 1UPs for the first time, which can give you a second crack at the obstacle you are trying to overcome. However, this next design choice will have you throwing your controller around quite a bit.
If you lose all of your lives and get the dreaded Game Over screen, you must start again from Zelda’s chamber. This forces you to navigate through the dangers you previously had to overcome, to get back to the area that took all of your lives. Luckily, Zelda II also introduced an experience system which can be used to level up your life, magic, and attack stats. You will even endure grinding similar to that found in RPGs. Using this experience to level up your stats will lend a helping hand, and I think that this is something future Zelda games could expand upon.
Overall, the gameplay is well-designed, save for a few complaints above. Palaces are similar to the dungeons in The Legend of Zelda in that they are mazes that are gradually uncovered by exploring each room, finding keys for locked doors, and culminating in a boss battle. Other familiar elements such as fairies and sword beams can be found, as well. New elements introduced in Zelda II – including the magic meter and towns – even carry forward in the series. So, if you were told this game isn’t like Zelda, somebody lied. Yes, the sidescrolling stages are quite different, but this is a Zelda game at heart.
Visually, I feel that The Adventures of Link does lack a little bit. Sprites are nicely design with great animations, but other aspects lack originality. Most of the game will look almost entirely the same, save for some palette swapping. Maybe I’m picking on this aspect a little too much, but I feel more could have been accomplished. Regardless, there is no doubt a unique atmosphere created in Zelda II, one that is consistent. Musically, Zelda II is better than The Legend of Zelda. There are extremely catchy tunes in the Town Theme and Palace Themes, as well as a beautifully crafted opening and overworld theme. The Palace Theme happens to be one of my personal favourite Zelda tracks, of all time.
3/5 D-Pads: Zelda II isn’t the game you’d expect to play upon insertion of the cartridge, or booting up the Virtual Console, but it’s a satisfying experience. Sword combat is varied and perhaps influential behind Nintendo’s decision to make combat a more complete experience in Skyward Sword. Also, Zelda II carries forward elements that have become staples in the Zelda franchise. Add in a touch of great music and you have a complete Zelda experience, despite what you may have heard. If you’re one of those Zelda fans that has completely ignored this game, please give it a chance, you may be surprised.
Super Mario Bros. 3 Review
Super Mario Bros. 3 is the final Mario game in the NES trilogy, and definitely the best. This game takes what made the gameplay from Super Mario Bros. fun, and not only improves it, but also adds elements that can still be found in the series today.
Bowser is back and trying to rule the Mushroom Kingdom once again. Instead of just kidnapping Princess Peach, Bowser also instructs his Koopa Kids to steal magic wands from every king in the Mushroom Kingdom. Not only do they steal their magic wands, but they transform the kings into a variety of animals. Now it’s up to Mario and Luigi to save the land, again.
Super Mario Bros. 3 plays a lot like Super Mario Bros; however, this time around, Mario can don a variety of different suits, each with their own power. Mushrooms and Fire Flowers are still present, but it’s the new suits that take center stage. Some of the suits include a Frog Suit that increases swimming ability, and a Super Leaf that transforms Mario into a raccoon, giving him the ability to fly for a limited time. Mario can also find the Hammer Brother Suit, and of course, the magical Tanooki suit.
Other than for visual appeal, these suits – particularly Racoon and Tanooki Mario – changed the way levels were designed. Flying allowed the developers to include secret areas in the sky that can only be accessed by using one of the flight suits. Flying into the sky for the first time is an incredible feeling, and was a game changing experience for the Mario series.
There are 8 worlds in this game including: Grass Land, Desert Land, Water Land, Giant Land, Sky Land, Ice Land, Pipe Land, and finally, Dark Land, home of Bowser himself. Each world is represented by an overworld map, a first, but consistent feature for the series. Players move Mario around the map and choose which level (or Mini Fortress!) they want to enter. Gamers will definitely be familiar with the sidescrolling view once inside a level. Also, on the map, players can access an item menu that lets them store and use items found in Mushroom Houses. The overworld map is a fantastic addition to the series and sometimes hold secret areas of their own.
At the end of each world, players will have to conquer the dreaded airship. Airships are intense levels accompanied by heart pounding music, and dangerous level design. Getting to the end is a feat in itself, but a battle with one of seven Koopa Kids still waits. These levels are awesome in design, and its theme song is one of the best in the series. Airship levels aren’t the only new level additions in Super Mario Bros. 3 either, also, for the first time, players can venture through many fortress levels.
Fortress levels are castle-like levels that feature many ghostly enemies, some of which make their first appearance in the Mario series. Enemies such as Boos, Thwomps and Dry Bones instantly come to mind. Also, at the end of each fortress, players will fight Boom Boom. Boom Boom doesn’t offer much of a challenge, but serve their role as a mid-world boss quite well.
Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the best looking NES games, and definitely the best looking game in the NES trilogy. Sprites in general are not only highly detailed and colorful, but they are also varied. Having such variety creates the feeling that there is much more to discover, in fact, there is quite a bit discover in the game.
Secrets are around every corner in SMB3: including one of the most famous secrets of all time, warp whistles. Warp whistles are located at various hidden spots throughout the game, and give players the ability to warp to a world of their choosing. Scouring the game for secrets is quite fun, plus there are others to find, such as secret coin boats, and white mushroom houses.
5/5 D-Pads: Overall, Super Mario Bros. 3 is an example of game design at its finest. Level design is among the greatest in the series (rivaled only by Super Mario World), as well as having some of the catchiest theme songs. Suits are a lot of fun to use and add some variety to the gameplay. Super Mario Bros. 3 is a classic game and definitely one of my favourite games. Anyone who hasn’t played this game should download it on the virtual console, it’s only 500 points – that’s just five bucks!
Every now and then, a certain song will come along and get stuck in my head. Tonight, it’s the little ditty above from Super Mario Bros. 2.
Nothing warms my heart up more than the overworld theme from Super Mario Bros. 2, in fact, I consider it to be one of the best Super Mario Bros. themes. There are two layers here that fit together to create one of the most uplifting video game themes I’ve ever heard. Though at first, you might listen to its main jingle, I always catch myself listening for that bad ass bass line.
As a bonus, I’ve included this ragtime version as sight-read by Tom Brier.
Capcom released Mega Man on the Wii U Virtual Console today, but they aren’t ready to stop there. Capcom will be bringing one of their most famous (and frustrating) series to Nintendo’s Wii U. Of course, I’m talking about Super Ghouls’N Ghosts and Ghosts’n Goblins. First, fans will be able to download the SNES classic, Super Ghouls’N Ghosts on May 16th. Later in the month, Wii U owners can grab its equally evil little brother, Ghosts’n Goblins for the NES, on May 30th.
Nintendo has revealed the launch lineup for their Wii U Virtual Console service that will be launching sometime this week. Among the titles are some of the most recognized NES and SNES games in existence. So, what Virtual Console games will be available to purchase later this week?
- Ice Climber
- Donkey Kong Jr.
- Balloon Fight
- Kirby’s Adventure
- Super Mario World