The Ratings

The Ratings: October

Two bonus episodes really made the month of October feel short here at LTOVG. However, that won't stop me from rating games. In honer of spooktoberfest, this ratings column will be extra special. In addition to a normal rating, and extra SPOOKY rating will be next to it in orange, so that you know how appropriate each game is to play on Halloween. Check it out after the jump.

Super Smash Bros. 10/10 1
Despite being a great game, Super Smash Bros. isn't spooky at all!  None of the stages even have a spooky theme, how hard would it be to get some dead tress in there?  And none of the characters have any costumes that are even remotely spooky.  Wouldn't that be awesome?  Dark Link shows up in Brawl, but where my Zombie Pikachu?  Huh Nintendo?  Huh?
 
Mega Man X 9/10 3
Mega Man X has bot a forest level, and a factory level, a factory level that can be crashed into by a ship leaving to totally dark.  That's a little spooky, but there's no especially scary level, and none of the bosses are even remotely spooky.  I guess there's a Spider Robot in Sigma's fortress that might be spooky if you're afraid of spiders, but other then that, not spooky at all.  You should play it on Halloween anyway, because you should play it on every day.
 
Castlevainia Symphony of the Night 9/10 7
Alright Castlevainia, this should be spooky right?  Well... SotN is trying that's for sure, with all the tentacle monsters and the gothic castle, and even having you play as a vampire who can suck blood from his enemies to heal himself.  Unfortunately, like a lot of bad horror movies, the dialog drags it down and sometimes makes it hilarious rather than funny.  Still, C for effort SotN.
 
Super Metroid 9/10 6
Super Metroid starts out by making you feel isolated in this strange alien world.  As you go deeper and deeper, and more lava starts showing up, it starts to feel like a decent into hell.  However, you're a badass bounty hunter which detracts from the spookyness quite a bit, and the aliens invading the place makes you want to defend it, making you a part of the landscape rather than a visitor.  Still, very nice visuals.
 
Castlevania 9/10 10
Castlevainia is great guys.  As I've said before, the theme combines haunted house with Monster B-Movie, and it creates a really spooky atmosphere.  Sure, you're a bad ass Dracula-Hunter, but your whip has this delay and your jumps have this rigidness that make you plan everything out before you do it.  Make you think.  Make you scared.  Castlevainia is great.  And spooky.  Play it.
 
Mega Man 2 8/10 4
Mega Man 2 has both a spooky forest level, (that's not that spooky) and a factory level.  So what puts it ahead of Mega Man X on the spookometer?  Well one, the factory level is a lot more mechanical and spooky.  But two, the best weapon in the game is a buzz saw, so you spend most of the game chopping up robots with Buzz Saws.  Now that's spooky!
 
Mega Man 8/10 1
Nothing really spooky about the first Mega Man sadly.  Even Wiley's castle doesn't have a skull on it like in Mega Man 2.  Oh well.
 
The Legend of Zelda 8/10 4
For featuring a protagonist who's main trait is supposed to be courage, The Legend of Zelda doesn't give you many spooky adversaries to overcome.  Sure, you slowly go into dungeons and fight horrible monsters at the end, and it has all the spookyness that comes with going out on an adventure, but it never does anything especially frightening, at least not as far as I got into it.
 
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars 8/10 2
Mario isn't very spooky.  The Boos are a scary idea, but there's not even a haunted house in this game.  RPG combat is less spooky then actual platforming as well.  Geno is kind of creepy I guess, being a living puppet, but he's also basically an angel which negates that.
 
Gradius 7/10 6
In space no one can hear you scream.  That's pretty spooky.  Easter Island heads are also pretty spooky, and this game has a lot of them.  You die a lot, which deflates a lot of that spookyness, but Gradius is actually sort of up there on the spooky front.
 
Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber 7/10 4
Ogre Battle has spooky demons and ogres and gorgons and all sorts of scary stuff!  That said, nothing they do is all that scary.  They're just presented as enemies to fight.  That's fine, but the way monsters act is sort of what creates the line between fantasy and horror, and while there's a lot of overlap, Ogre Battle 64 is pretty clearly in the fantasy camp.
 
Castlevainia II: Simon's Quest 7/10 11
That's right bitches.  Castlevainia II is even spookier than Castlevainia!  It's got legends about how terrible it is surrounding it, and it's about going to different mansions and getting something from each.  Trick or Treating is quite spooky, and it ends in Dracula!  What could be spookier than all that?
 
Doom 7/10 5
Doom is similar to Super Metroid and Ogre Battle 64 when it comes to spooky.  It uses all sorts of demons, and you literally descend into hell as you go.  However, you also get more and more powerful sci-fi guns as you go along, becoming more and more able to deal with the challenges you face.  The Demons aren't really scary, they're there to be overcome, which makes it a power metal fantasy rather than a horror game.  Still, at least there's some potential for spooky.
 
Metroid 7/10 4
Metroid has a similar feeling of loneliness and decent as Super Metroid.  It also feels more like you're the invader, and the various creatures attacking you are natives, which increases the spooky feel.  Unfortunately, the graphics aren't as good, and it feels less like a decent into hell and more like, well a video game than its sequel.
 
Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels 6/10 5
Lost Levels!?  Those sounds spooky right!  And this game is also a big of a legend, being so hard it was only released in the mythic land of Japan.  It's still just Mario though.  Much harder than the other games, but not especially scary.
 
Super Mario Bros. 6/10 3
Itsa Mario.  Itsa got underground caves and creepy castles and dragon turtles youa put into lava.  Ok, maybe itsa little spookier than I thought thinking about it, but itsa not a really that spooky.
 
Super Mario Bros. 2 6/10 5
Mario Bros 2 is all actually a dream!  Spoilers.  That means none of the Spooky things within can actually hurt you (unlike other videogames which aren't a dream) which makes it less Spooky.  It also allows for a lot of creepy dream images, like those faces that chase you around... those faces.... Creepy.
 
Pokemon Snap 6/10 3
Pokemon have a lot of potential to be terrifying.  Seriously, read a couple of Pokedex entries.  Despite two cave levels, Pokemon Snap really squanders all the potential spookyness.  The Haunters that only show up when you develop photos are a really nice touch though.

Otherwise, Pokemon Snap is fairly impressive.  It's always surprising to me what a crapshoot N64 graphics can be.  Despite being fun, Super Smash Bros. kind of looks like crap.  Pokemon Snap on the other hand is absolutely beautiful, and as a game about taking pictures, that's obviously quite reliant on visuals, that's a very good thing.  The game play is fun, but like we said in the episode, there's not very much of it.  That said, it didn't really leave me wanting more either.  It's an ok game, but hard to recommend today, due to its price point and the fact that it now has fewer than 10% of the total Pokemon.
 
Animal Crossing 6/10 2
Man that cat at the beginning is creepy.  And that cat on the train WITH NO FACE.  Ughhhh.  That said, for the most part animal crossing is too cute to be creepy, which is the reason these things stand out.  Maybe I'll pop it in to see if the game does anything special on Halloween.

The first Game Cube game we grabbed for the podcast, and probably the only one we'll play for some time.  Animal Crossing is interesting.  As a guy who plays Kingdom of Loathing every day, I understand what can be fun about a game that "refreshes" and encourages you to play every day.  And I got into Animal Crossing.  For a little while.  The reward structure, simply put, wasn't pleasing to me.  It was rare that I felt I really accomplished something, even something small, and the long term goals just seemed too far off.  If you can find it for cheap, I do suggest giving it a try, but it's not something I'd suggest anyone I didn't know personally seek out.

Gunstar Heroes 5/10 1
Sadly, there's really nothing spooky about Gunstar Heroes, at least nothing that I can remember at all.
 
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link 5/10 3
Death Mountain sounds pretty spooky right?  And you spend a lot of time fighting Skeletons and Headless people in the game.  Spooky right?  Well, unfortunately, the game play is just sort of rigid and unfun, and doesn't really give you time to experience  any spookyness.

Super Dodge Ball 5/10
Super Dodge Ball is way to fun to really be spook at all, I mean it takes place in the 80s and... and is that Stalin?  Ghost Stalin?  Ghost Devil Stalin!????  Ahhhhhh!
 
Final Fantasy 5/10 2
Like a few of the other games on this list, the actual mechanics of Final Fantasy, and the fact that it's, wait for it, a fantasy game, offset any potential spookyness.  That and the ability to take between 1-4 characters who can heal you and instantly destroy the undead.

Strider 5/10 ☭ 2.0
Strider takes place in a cyborg future run by some sort of vaguely Russian communist empire that has both a moon base and a flying battleship.  It's scary if you're afraid of Communist empires, so if you've been transported here from the 80s, Happy Halloween.

Strider is sort of like Sonic, it's a very pretty platformer with a bit of a gimmick.  Unlike Sonic, the design doesn't undermine the gimmick.  Also unlike Sonic, they fail on a lot of basic feed back levels, and it's easy to get lost in a game.  It just feels very loose, a lot looser than it actually is.  If it was just a little more clear when you took damage and when you'd killed an enemy, this game would be great, but as is, it's mediocre.

Excitebike 4/10 1
Motorbikes aren't scary.  Racing isn't scary.  NES carts aren't scary.  Nothing to see here.
 
Kirby's Adventure 4/10 3
Like Animal Crossing, Kirby's Adventure isn't spooky until suddenly is.  I guess the sentient tree that serves as the first boss could be seen as kind of creepy, but the extra dimensional space terror that you suddenly have to fight at the end definitely is.
 
Doom 2 4/10 ctrl+v
I could just copy paste what I said about Doom here, but I'm lazy, so if you'd pretend I did, I'd really appreciate that.
 
Zombies Ate My Neighbors 4/10 6
Lots of games take horror elements and use them as fantasy monsters, lots of other media does too.  But one technique that other media has used for a long time that is much rare in video games is parody, and one of the easiest things to parody is horror and spookyness.  So many people go to monster movies to see the zippers that there's a genre of film that caters specifically to that, things like Evil Dead.  Zombie Ate My Neighbors is that.  Like Castlevainia it uses all sorts of classic elements, but it uses them for humor.  It's not scary and it's not a great game, but it does try something that I'd like to see more of in modern games.

Harvest Moon 4/10 1
I just realized none of the Harvest Moon games I've played have a Halloween equivalent.  That  is simply unacceptable.  If you have played a Harvest Moon game with a version of Halloween, tell me in the comments!

Sonic the Hedgehog 3/10 4
Eggman's theme song actually is sort of spooky.  It's a good theme too, way stronger than anything Bowser ever had.  Still, there's plenty of cool levels in Sonic, and none of them are Haunted Mansion themed, at least not in the first game.  More wasted Spookyness potential.
 
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja 3/10 2
I never really got Japanese horror.  I love The Ring, but other then that, it sort of falls flat on me.  Add in the goffyness that Mystical Ninja likes to pepper into Japanese culture, and filter it through the quite mediocre localization, and there's not much spooky to be found here.
 
F-Zero 3/10 1
Races aren't spooky.  The future isn't spooky.  Potential spooky characters like Blood Falcon hadn't been introduced to the series yet.  F-Zero fails on all spooky levels.
 
Act Raiser 3/10 2
Act Raiser is a game in which you play God.  Not only that, but you play God using his remove control statue to battle monsters, you don't even have to battle them yourself.  On the other hand, certain religions would find that to be heresy, so I suppose if you do that's sort of spooky?

Bases Loaded 3/10 1
Baseball isn't spooky, and despite making up teams, Bases Loaded doesn't even grave us with something like "The Killers" or "The Reapers" or even "The Ghouls."
 
Ogre Battle 2/10 4
Like Ogre Battle 64, Ogre Battle is more about Fantasy than spookyness.  The one witch you can get does seem to be experimenting horribly on the populace, and you take a pretty big reputation hit for forgiving her, so that's something I guess.  Not much though.
 
Comix Zone 2/10 3
Man remember the 90s?  With like, Mutant everything and sewer creatures and all that?  Comix Zone has a lot of that.   Much like the 90s, it's a lot sillier than it is Spooky, but I suppose they're at least sort of trying.
 
Double Dragon II The Revenge 2/10 2
And going even further back, to the 80s, we have some gang violence.  Gang violence is scary sure, but it's not s-p-o-o-k-y.
 
Double Dragon 2/10 2
Double Dragon continues to be worse than Double Dragon II in every way, but since you can't play it with a friend, I suppose that actually makes it a little spookier and things even out.
  
Ghosts and Goblins 2/10 -13
One of the hardest games of all time with all manner of Ghosts and.... Zombies and Ghouls and Goblins and Satans and The Devil standing in your way.  Why isn't Ghosts and Goblins especially spooky?  Well part of it is that it's running on NES hardware.  It looks like a cartoon, and while that can be scary, it has to work a lot harder.  You have to be invested in the characters, and here you're really not.  That, and you die way to frequently.  To make horror effective in a game, you have to make the player think he's about to die at all points in time, but never actually kill him.  That makes him remember he's in a game, it makes him frustrated, instead of spooooooooked.
 
Phantasy Star 1/1 1
Seriously, Phantasy Star isn't even worth making a joke about how spooky it isn't.

The Ratings: September

Sequel to sequel month is over, like sequel month before it. It'll probably be a while before we do another theme month, and after Animal Crossing we'll get back to business as usual, which probably means games I'm excited to play but don't actually like. However, while I'm still in a good mood from all the great games we've played recently, lets take a look at how they stack up!

Super Smash Bros. 10/10
Super Smash Bros. isn't a perfect game, but it has a lot going for it. Simple game play with a lot of depth if you want to delve in, interesting and new (for the time) mechanics. Not to mention a bunch of characters that most people are pre disposed to liking, and multiplayer you can play for days. It's honestly a little bit hard to imagine a virtual console game better than Super Smash Bros. I'm sure there's one somewhere on it, but its the swan song of the Nintendo 64, the most advanced console on the VC.

Mega Man X 9/10
Mega Man X is the game that I expected to throne Castlevainia before we played Smash Bros. I've talked a lot about it, both on that episode and many previous, so I don't know how much more I can say here. The graphics still look good today, the platforming is just as tight as previous Mega Man games, the weapons are all unique and interesting, even if it's usually easier to just use the buster, the bosses are all imaginative and cool, and wall jumping is awesome. Go play it.

Castlevainia Symphony of the Night 9/10
Choosing between Symphone of the Night and Super Metroid was really hard for me. They're both great games. Super Metroid is a little more pure, with a minamalist story, better pacing, and a very strong theme that it never breaks. Symphony of the Night just has more. More isn't always better, I think the terrible voice acting actually hurts the story they're trying to tell quite a bit, and the RPG elements some times make the game feel less focused. But at the end of the day, which is more fun? Leveling up in SotN is awesome. Finding new sweet swords when you kill Skeletons is awesome. Street Fighter spells and Pokemon are awesome. They're very similar games, but SotN takes everything from Super Metroid and adds to it. Sure, they don't quite do the things Super Metorid did quite as well, but there's so much new stuff that it's a marvel it works at all, and I have to give it the edge.

Super Metroid 9/10
Super Metroid is still a fantastic game though. It takes everything Metroid did and improves it, stream lining the obscure bits and adding things like a map to smooth out all the bumps that game had. Then it adds in all sorts of cool new mechanics, like the grappling beam and wall jumping. The game has dark graphics with a sort of washed color pallet, but that really works for it, and it manages to feel like a slow, solitary decent into hell. Plus you have laser gun that you can charge up to shoot your enemies with! Super Metroid is a fantastic game, and if you aren't frustrated by a somewhat slow pace, I give it a hearty recommendation.

Castlevania 9/10
Oh how the mighty have fallen. The NES was a great machine, and some great, simple games were on it, but the more games from newer consoles we play, the more even the best of the NES library looks a bit old and busted. That's not to say Castlevania is a bad game, it's super well designed, and quite the challenge with good themeing. If my previous praise of the game hasn't gotten you to play it, I can't imagine this will, but just in case, play it!

Mega Man 2 8/10
Mega Man is a great game. Mega Man 2 doesn't innovate very much on the original, but its longer and has some what more interesting powers, so it just barely gets the edge on the original.

Mega Man 8/10
The original is still pretty good though, iconic design and tight platforming, with a variety of different challenges, both are good, and if you like Mega Man 2, going back for the first one is probably a good idea.

The Legend of Zelda 8/10
Zelda marks the point in the scores where I stop thinking the games are universally great, and more just that the good outweighs the bad. Since Zelda is at the top of that point, I think it has the most good, and its clearly had more influence on modern games than almost any other NES game. It does a somewhat poor job of guiding you, but like Super Metroid, I think the slow pace adds a little bit to the fun.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars 8/10
Super Mario RPG also has a lot of good, its simple and fun, and does a good job blending the Mario iconography into an RPG. However, the pacing is sort of all over the place, at some points you're getting one of the titular seven stars one after another, at other times progress slows almost completely, and there's a frustrating difficulty spike at the end. Still, it's a pretty good game.

Gradius 7/10
Gradius is difficult arcade action at its finest, with cool power ups, interesting decisions and a whole lot of challenge. A little less challenge probably would have gotten it a higher rating in my eyes, but if that sounds like your thing give Gradius a look.

Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber 7/10
Ogre Battle 64 is the first game we've played that I enjoyed in my childhood, but that doesn't quite hold up. It's still a pretty good game, and I played through it just 3 years ago when it first hit the virtual console, but playing it again the cracks in it really show. The story is slow paced, and while not exactly cliche I've certainly seen everything going on there before. The characters aren't very fleshed out either, for the N64 they've got surprising detail, they all have at least one personality trait, but it just doesn't measure up story wise today. And while it's a different sort of tactical game play, games like X-Com and Fire Emblem are just more fun. If Zach's gushing in our episode won you over check it out, if you want a ridiculous amount of game for 10 dollars check it out, but otherwise, skip it.

Castlevainia II: Simon's Quest 7/10
I'm still surprised that I rate Simon's Quest so high, but the game gets a bad rap. It's bad at telling you where you need to go, and many of the obstacles are annoying to overcome rather than entertaining, but the majority of it is whipping demons werewolves and zombies, which is always fun. Anyone who has any interest in game design should play it to completion, see what works about it, what doesn't, and come to their own conclusions.

Doom 7/10
Doom, one of the First First Person Shooters, gets almost everything right about the genre. It's fast and drops you right into the game, the weapons are unique and useful, the enemies clearly need to die, and most of all its fun. The graphics aren't great, and the levels are maze like enough that its easy to get lost, but its still a fun little title.

Metroid 7/10
Metroid isn't nearly the game Super Metroid is, it's more confusing, the graphics don't do a good job of cluing you on where to go, and the Boss Fights aren't satisfying. It's still a good game, with a lot of depth for an NES title, but pay the two extra bucks and play Super Metroid instead.

Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels 6/10
Another very hard game, Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels is still satisfying, do to incredibly tight controls and good level design. So why isn't it as high up as Gradius or Castlevainia? Well... simply put Mario isn't quite as engaging. There's really only one verb, jump, and while its still fun, its not quite as satisfying as those other games. Still, if you like Mario but think it's usually too easy, this is a game for you.

Super Mario Bros. 6/10
A classic. Super Mario Bros. is perhaps the most important game of the entire 1980s and anyone with an interest in videogames should play it to completion. Is it perfect? Far from it, but its still good to this day.

Super Mario Bros. 2 6/10
The black sheep of the Mario NES games is probably my least favorite. It's still fairly solid though, with nice graphics and each character having unique powers adds a lot to the game. If you're a big Mario or platformer fan it might be worth a look, but here's the point where games become difficult to recommend for one reason or another.

Gunstar Heroes 6/10
Gunstar Heroes is very pretty, and like most Genesis games looks like a vibrant arcade experience a console would have trouble producing. The game play is fun too, but really its about all the colors and explosions, which makes it easy to loose track of what you're doing. It's not a half bad co-op experience, but it's not a game I can strongly recommend either.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link 5/10
The Adventure of Link is a huge departure from the previous game, and talking simply, it's too hard. The challenge is overwhelming, and failure makes you start over at the beginning, which means you just spend time getting to the spot you're stuck at over and over again. The biggest Zelda fan boys might want to give it a try, but as a Zelda fan boy myself I say skip it.

Super Dodge Ball 5/10
Super Dodge Ball is hard to talk about, because its fun and quirky but very short.  If you're interested in old NES games it's worth a look.  If you like quirky humerous video games, it's worth a look.  If you're looking for depth, skip it.

Final Fantasy 5/10
I really want to give Final Fantasy another try some time, but I don't think I'm ever going to. The game simply processes too slowly, the gap between making your choices and seeing the outcome is too long for the game to be fun. It's easy to see why with improvements, they were able to make another dozen of the things, but the original needed a little more love.

Excitebike 5/10
Excitebike is a simple little game that's surprisingly fun, you race a dirt bike, you go off jumps, and you try not to crash.  Simple but fun.  Unfortunately five dollars seems a little steep for what seems like a flash or phone game.

Kirby's Adventure 4/10
Speaking of simple, Kirby's Adventure really feels like baby's first platformer.  It's colorful and it has a lot of cool power ups, but it's so easy it becomes boring quickly, despite all that color.  I recommend you skip it.

Doom 2 4/10
Doom 2 takes all the good of Doom, adds a few new weapons, and keeps all the frustration.  It honestly feels more like an expansion pack than a sequel.  If you finish Doom and can't wait for more, pick up Doom 2, but I was quite satisfied with what the first one offered.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors 4/10
Zombies Ate my Neighbors is another simple little game that feels like it should be a phone game... only with a whole lot of progress blocking.  While the theme is good, it feels way too simple for the Super Nintendo, and I have to say pass on it.

Harvest Moon 4/10
Harvest Moon suffers from this weird problem that plagues few other games.  It's only fun for about a third of the length of the game.  That third is still long enough to justify the price of the game... but when that clashes with the desire to complete a game, it just becomes frustrating.  It's not a bad game, it just overstays its welcome.  And has a dozen sequels that have improved on the formula, I recommend you take your pick of those instead.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3/10
I'm surprised that I still have Sonic so low on the totem pole with all the bad games we've played, since Sonic isn't strictly speaking bad.  It's just really frustrating, the mechanics and visuals are all centered around speed, something the game punishes you for.  Metroid, a game about isolation, does more to encourage speed.  And that's terrible.

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja 3/10
Like Sonic, I feel Mystical Ninja probably deserves more than a 3.  It's not a bad game, it just didn't offer anything special, other than some Japanese humor, though I don't think a video game is the best medium for that.  The co-op makes the game fun, but there are definitely better games out there.

F-Zero 3/10
The last of the games that just isn't flat out bad, F-Zero is a racing game, not all that different than racing games today, other than having HP and lives.  I don't know that that really adds anything to the game, and I don't really think I recommend it, but it's not offensive.
 
Act Raiser 3/10
Act Raiser is a worthy experiment, and it has a lot of potential.  I'd actually love to see a sequel to the game, although Act Raiser 2 isn't on the virtual console, and I've heard it's not very good.  If you like genre mixing, it's an interesting example, but the platforming that makes up most of the game isn't very fun, so don't go in expecting much.

Bases Loaded 3/10
Bases Loaded is an impressive Base Ball simulation for the NES.  It's also not much fun, since hitting the ball is almost as difficult as in real life, but with none of the physical feed back.  Unless you're a sports video game nut, I suggest you skip it.

Ogre Battle 2/10
Ogre Battle is kind of terrible.  There are some good ideas there, but most of them were retained for Ogre Battle 64, which fixes all the major issues.  Play that instead.

Comix Zone 2/10
Comix Zone is visually striking, but short, artificially difficult, and uses cheap game play techniques.  Just skip it.

Double Dragon II The Revenge 2/10
Double Dragon II is ok, the "story" is pretty "great", and it has co-op which always makes a game more fun.  The controls are incredibly shaky however, which sort of ruins the whole thing.

Double Dragon 2/10
Double Dragon has all the problems of its sequel, but ear piercing terrible music and no co-op.  Double skip it.

Ghosts and Goblins 2/10
Ghosts and Goblins is a hard game, but not in a fun way like Lost Levels or Castlevainia, where you always know you're at fault for your mistakes.  Instead, the difficulty feels nearly random at times, and unless you feel you have something to prove skip it.

Phantasy Star 1/1
I can at least understand the person who tortures themself with Ghosts n' Goblins.  Phantasy Star is terrible on so many levels... just play any other RPG instead.

The Ratings: August

Sequel month comes to a close, it was fun, we played some of the best games we have for the Podcast this month, and all of them were worth talking about. So here's how they shake out, in my opinion, compared to everything else we've played. I've bolded the games we played this month, so if you just want my additional comments on those, they should be easy to find. If you want to read everything, hit the jump and dig in.


Super Smash Bros. 10/10
Like Castlevania before it, it's going to be tough for anything to dethrone Super Smash Bros. It's the only Nintendo 64 game we've played thus far, and while I love Super Nintendo and NES games, the N64 really is my childhood. Some stuff from that era of games holds up, some of it is laughable, but Super Smash Bros. is the crown jewel, it's tough to see it going anywhere any time soon.

Castlevania 9/10
Castlevainia however, is almost the perfect game for it's time. The challenge, the theme, the controls, the music, everything is absolutely spot on. You've heard me gush about it a lot, but if you've any interest in overcoming a challenging NES game, play it!

Mega Man 2
9/10
I struggled with where to put Mega Man 2. On the episode in which we spoke about it, I talked about how I didn't think it was better than Mega Man and that it felt like it was just a continuation that was a bit weaker. Than I played "hard" mode, and the game became fun. Hard mode isn't really that much harder, a few enemies take more hits, and the boss battles feel like boss battles, but that's enough. Zach talked in that episode about how he felt like the boss battles serve no point, and on "Normal" mode I can see where he's coming from, but Hard mode made them fun and exciting, even if that wasn't Zach's protest. Speaking objectively, it's got 2 extra levels and a longer final stage, more weapons, and some platforming items. It's better than Mega Man and a fun game, even if it didn't try anything especially new.

Mega Man 9/10
Sand speaking of Mega Man, it's still good. Not quite as good as Mega Man 2, but still worth paying for and playing if you've any interest in that style of game.

The Legend of Zelda 8/10
An influence on a lot of the games we played this week, The Legend of Zelda is a fun little adventure that really feels like an adventure. You slay monster, find treasure, and rescue a princess, honestly what more could you ask for? The game's not perfect, but it's fun and worth checking out if you're a Zelda fan.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars 8/10
I havn't finished Seven Stars, which is a bit of a shame. I'm close enough that I feel like I've completed the game, there's very little in the way of additional content to see, just Bowser's Castle and some bosses, and a game over that took away too much progress ended my desire for it. The game is really oddly paced, and the graphics are poor, but it's quirky and fun, and I reccomend anyone who likes RPGs give it a play through.

Gradius 8/10
Going back to difficult, skill based NES games we have Gradius. I've only played it a couple of times since the episode, and that makes the problems with it a bit more apparant. The penalty for dying is steep, so taking a break from it is a bad idea, you'll just die more and encounter the hard parts of the game. It's a fair game though, and a ton of fun if space shooters that are super hard are your thing.

Castlevainia II: Simon's Quest
7/10
I'm likely to get some flack for placing such a widely reviled game so highly in this list, but I absolutely loved Simon's Quest. It has problems, a lot of them, but they're fairly infamous, and knowing what they are ahead of time really helps to mitigate what sucks about the experience. I'm not sure what else to say about it, it's surprisingly good. If you have any interest at all in game design or game criticism, I think you should play it through, the things it does wrong are worth noting, as is how fun and satisfying the combat is despite that.

Doom 7/10
Not sure what else to say about Doom, I feel like the fun I didn't have with Doom 2 should almost bring this game down, but that's not fair to it. It's everything that's fun about the First Person Shooter genre, minus multiplayer, distilled into a raw form. Check it out.

Metroid 7/10
Metroid is a game that's ahead of its time in a lot of ways, with branching paths and optional power ups, but it lacks some crucial features like a mini-map. This all gets fixed in Super Metroid, which is a better game over all, but Metroid's still a good one to check out if you like game history, or the franchise.

Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels 7/10
I've spoken at length about how much I like the challenge in Castlevania, about how it's frustrating, but in the way that makes you just want to go again, about how it gives you plenty of lives and doesn't punish you too much for using them, and about how great you feel when you beat a level. Lost Levels does very much the same thing. So why is it not up as high as Castlevainia? Well for starters the theme. I love Mario, but it's just not as exciting as the B horror feel of Castlevainia. Then there's the difficulty, Castlevainia starts easy and provides plenty of challenges, from Medusa heads, to spike traps to Dracula. Mario is pretty much just pits, and they start out very hard. It's a good game, one I'm still playing three weeks after we assigned it, but it's not for everyone.

Super Mario Bros. 6/10
Super Mario Bros. got much closer to the 5/10 slot I want it in this month, with so many of the games being winners, not as close as I might like though. I suppose it's just a really good game, despite being simple, and that far more games went for the glory Mario had back in the day and failed than succeeded.

Super Mario Bros. 2 6/10
Super Mario Bros. 2 is very, very different from Super Mario Bros. When you consider it was originally another game entirely, that's not surprising. My co-hosts gave it a lot of credit for being something new and different, and it deserves that. It's a fun game, and a worthy successor to Mario Bros. But new and different doesn't mean everything. In the end, the game just doesn't feel as tight or interesting as Mario Bros. to me. Sure, multiple characters is cool, and it's nice that they all have different ability sets, but this leads to a few levels where characters can't progress, and Luigi is pretty clearly the best. It's still a good game over all, but there's a reason I think that more inspirtation wasn't drawn from it.

Gunstar Heroes 6/10
Gunstar Heroes is still a game I have trouble talking about. It was fun. It wasn't really anything special. That sets a sort of ill tone for everything below, doesn't it?

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link 6/10
Adventure of Link is a game that's hard to gather my thoughts on. It's hard. That doesn't make it bad. It's simple. That also doesn't make it bad. It's very different from the game that came before. Again, that doesn't make it bad, and in fact, many of the systems are clever and well done. But when you add it all together, it just makes a game that's ok. One that's hard to justify spending a lot of time with when you realize just how difficult it is, when you get too many game overs, especially with how harsh those game overs are. I wish I liked the game, but I don't, not at all, and I'm glad Link to the Past borrowed little from it.

Final Fantasy 5/10
Zelda II's overworld actually reminds me a lot of Final Fantasy. If you read these columns, you know that this is a game I long to go back to, but every time I do, the abysmal run speed just drives me to something else. There's a great game here, I know it, and it's an utter shame that technical problems scare me away from it.

Super Dodge Ball 5/10
A quirky, fun little game, with multiplayer but little if any replayability. As such I havn't replayed it, and don't have much more to say on the game.

Excitebike 5/10
This game isn't very exciting either, but it has a bit of a zen quality that makes it great for playing while listening to podcasts or before bed, like Tetris. Nothing super special, but worth a look if you're interested.

Kirby's Adventure 5/10
Kirby's adventure as I've said before is just boring. It's an incredibly easy platformer. The colors are nice, and there are a lot of really cool power ups, but it's just easy to fall asleep while playing it.. and still win!

Doom 2 4/10
Like Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels, Doom 2 is just more of what came before, but a little harder. The problem, as stated before, was I felt Doom was already starting to wear out its welcome when I played the first one. I'm not a big FPS guy, one will occasionally grab my attention for a while, but it's rare, and they never hold me to them too long. Doom 2 didn't have it for more than a couple of seconds, and while I still say check out the original, I can't recommend the follow up.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors 4/10
A quircky game with a strong theme and some interesting design choices, ruined by a couple of key problems. Chief among them, the complete lack of a save system, combined with a restart at death. I really don't see the big deal when it come to Zombies Ate my Neighbors, and recommend you skip it.

Harvest Moon 4/10
I probably give this game a lot more bile than it deserves. It's fun for about 10 hours, more than quite a few of the more highly rated games. But it lasts about 30, and the part of me that wants to see things through to the end just couldn't stand that. I still stay skip it, since there are a litany of sequels that are vastly improved.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4/10
Sonic sadly didn't make it into sequel week, and he likely won't make it in for a few more months, which is a shame, I'd like to take another crack at a Sonic game, and I remember really liking Sonic 2. This game looks beautiful, but the fun bits of the game play, namely going fast, contrast with what the levels are designed to do, make you take your time to make precise jumps, so what should be a fun imaginative game is just super frustrating instead.

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja 3/10
While still at 3/10, I moved Mystical Ninja up a few games. Why? Well, it wasn't anything special, and it did have some pretty big problems, but I did enjoy it, and that's what should count in a game. It just didn't really stand out at all.

F-Zero 3/10
F-Zero is a racing game that's main feature is impressive graphics for the time. They still look pretty good today, but they're nothing special which makes recommending the game rather difficult. Play the racing game of your choice instead.

Act Raiser 3/10
Act Raiser, as I've said a hundred times before, is a game with an interesting story, a theme it wants to explore, and some really cool game mechanics. That are executed terribly. The RTS portions are overly basic and require no strategy, while the hit boxes in the platform section make it nearly unplayable. Too bad.

Bases Loaded 3/10
While impressive for how realistic it is for an NES game, Bases Loaded is just a little too hard to be fun. You shouldn't have to be a pro hitter to feel like one in a videogame, which is why this game is rated so low. That and I'm not a huge fan of sports games.

Ogre Battle 2/10
Ogre Battle has a fantastic theme and very fun progression elements, and lets you control an entire army of fantasy creatures and characters. So why is it so low? Well, the game has unfair difficulty that makes it a slog. Not especially difficult, but not at all fun, so a great concept ends up languishing here at the bottom of the bin.

Comix Zone 2/10
Speaking of mechanics and difficulty that make a game not fun, Comix Zone. Poor Comix Zone. So much could have been done with this concept. Instead, the designers were lazy, padding out a few short boring levels with fake difficulty. Skip it.

Double Dragon II The Revenge 2/10
An alright time with a friend, but uninteresting fighting and poor jumping controls combined with platformering sections makes Double Dragon II a hard thumbs down.

Double Dragon 2/10
Double Dragon. Take everything I said about Double Dragon II, remove the co-op and add horrible soul crushing music that loops way too quickly. In other words, don't play it.

Phantasy Star 1/1
And here's the inverse Super Smash Brothers. Phantasy Star was a game I'd never played, but playing some of its decendents and having heard great things, I had high expectations. I wanted to play an RPG for the podcast that would be better than Final Fantasy. What I got was much much worse. Moon logic, grinding, boring combat, impossibility to navigate, this game has it all and it's all bad. I don't see anything "beating" it soon. I hope nothing "beats" it any time soon.

The Ratings: July

First off, I'd like to apologize for not posting lately.  Since listing the Mario games, I went into a bit of a Mario coma.  I had a lot of thoughts on things I wanted to write, but I burned myself out on the franchise and none of that ever materialized, and I havn't had much inspiration to write much else either.  Still, I've got to restart with something, and hopefully a Ratings column will be what I need to start writing weekly again.

Super Smash Bros. 10/10
Well, it had to happen eventually.  Castlevainia is amazing, I hadn't played it until we undertook this project, and it quickly became my favorite NES game.  It's still my favorite game I found doing this Podcast, even though we havn't recorded an episode on it yet!  But it couldn't stay on top forever.  I actually thought I knew what was going to knock it off, but then Zach suggested Smash Bros. as an assignment.  Super Smash Bros. is an incredible game.  It's hours of fun with your friends, reimagining  all your favorite Nintendo characters in a much more violent context.  It is the first game we've played that feels like a "modern" game to me.  It's the first game I ever bought the day it came out.  As we said in that episode, Melee is a sequel that both greatly improved the game play and nearly doubled the content, so in a way it's obsolete.  But it's still an incredible game.

Castlevania 9/10
Which is to take nothing away from Castlevainia.  It's a masterpiece of a platformer, the combat is fun, and the challenge is extreme, but always fair.  You always know you're the one who messed up when you die, and can't help but give it another go.  With Mega Man confirmed for the next Smash Bros. game, Simon Belmont may be my most wanted new challenger, and I'm eager for the day we finally assign Castlevainia III and IV.

Mega Man 9/10
Mega Man is similar to Castlevainia, hared but fair with a good combat aspect.  There's a bit more of a platforming focus, and the theme isn't as tight, and it's got a lot more bugs.  That said it's a bit easier, so if you're the sort of person who tears their hair out at hard games, it might be more for you.

The Legend of Zelda 9/10
Zelda is more of an adventure game.  Tyler has ranted about that title in the past, as it gets applied to damn near everything, but you really feel like you're on an adventure.  The challenge, rather than an extreme platforming segment, is figuring out where to go and finding secrets.  It's not quite as satisfying to me as the raw challenge of Mega Man or Castlevainia, or the chaotic multiplayer of Smash Bros. but it's different and still engaging.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars 8/10
I tried to finish Mario RPG.  As I've said before, the pacing of the game is extremely awkward.  I got to a nice little parody of the Power Rangers that occurs right before the final castle.  Unfortunately, you fight them right after another boss with two forms, with no saves in between.  Plus, for the first time in the game, grinding a bit before taking them on seemed like a wise option.  I might go back to the game, but I feel that loss of 30 minutes or so of progress killed it for me.  It didn't ruin my fun with the game, it's still one of the highest rated games we've played, but I think it revealed my major problem with the game.  It's in consistent.  The pacing, the difficulty, they're all over the place, and the graphics suck.  None of those things make the game unfun, but they're all little spots on it that keep it away from a perfect score.

Doom 8/10
I'm really not sure what to say about Doom.  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, played a little more than half of it, felt satisfied and quit while I was ahead.  I'm quite surprised that it's still ranked so high, which is a testament to how many mediocre games we've played.

Gradius 8/10
Gradius is very similar to Castlevainia.  A hard game that makes you want to retry, because every death is your fault in some way.  So why isn't it ranked as high?  A couple reasons.  First, in Castlevainia, powerups are cool and useful, but you only need 2 to be effective.  In Gradius you need about 10, so when you die and loose them, you might as well restart the game.  Second, Castlevainia has a much more forgiving retry cost.  You start from the last boss you beat on a game over.  In Gradius, you start from the beginning.  Third, the theme of Castlevainia, with all it's horror monsters, is a lot stronger than the generic space shooter of Gradius.

Metroid 7/10
And speaking of space, here we have Metroid.  A game that blurs the line  between something straightforward like Casltevainia, and something more exploration based like a Zelda.  That said, the challenge isn't quite there, and the things that block your way feel a bit more obtuse than Zelda.  It's still a great game, and you can see the Metroidvainia genre in it right from the start, but they were a few ideas short of the genius they'd eventually reach.

Super Mario Bros. 7/10
And here we are again.  Super Mario Bros.  My base line of gaming.  Still at a 7.   I don't know how to feel about this.  I guess it's impressive how good tight controls and decent level design can make a pretty good game.  Or perhaps it's worth noting that even back in the day, most games were crap.  Or maybe 7s are only common in the gaming industry because a game worth paying attention too is going to rate one simply because of all the utter crap that's around.  Anyway, Super Mario Bros.  I can't imagine you havn't played it.  If you havn't, do.

Gunstar Heroes 7/10
Gunstar Heroes didn't really impress me.  I think it was just a little bit overhyped for me.  That said, I've moved it up in the rankings a bit, as I noticed a theme in the games below it.  Most of them would be great, save for one fatal flaw.  There's nothing really wrong with Gunstar, and it is fun, so up it goes.

Final Fantasy 6/10
Here's where we start getting depressing.  Most of the next few games are good, but have some crippling flaw that makes them frustrating of hard to recommend.  For Final Fantasy, it's the pace of the game.  Combat is just so slow.  I've almost gone back to it a couple times, but without some sort of fast forward, I just can't do it.  I barely scratched the surface in that game either.  I did have fun with it, but I almost think it's only so high on the list because I've imagined 80% of the game, and that 80% is great in my head.


Super Dodge Ball 6/10
And next up, Super Dodge Ball.  It's hard to condense my thoughts on this game, so maybe just listen to the episode?  The premise is crazy, in a great way.  The visuals are great, in a way that really adds to the game, making it crazy and energetic.  The game play is fun but... hard to sustain.  It's fun for about the length of the campaign, which is short, and it's a game that looses something in multiplayer.  As I've said before, watch some Youtube videos and if it looks like your thing, it probably is.

Excitebike 6/10
Excitebike is a little bit zen for me.  It's simple, and yet engaging.  I play it like a phone game, usually just to keep my hands busy while I listen to a podcast or the like.  There's not much there, especially by modern standards, but it's fun for a few minutes at a time.

Kirby’s Adventure 6/10
Kirby's Adventure is a platformer, like some of the ones at the top of the list, with incredible sound and graphics for its time and a huge number of fun interesting power ups.  But it's so easy.  It's hard to care about enemies, because you have 6 hit points.  It's hard to care about dying because you have so many lives, and check points are frequent.  Levels are short, so you can always get through.  It doesn't take long for everything to start just glossing over and to start going through the motions.  In other words, it's not fun.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors 5/10
Again, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, while a simple game, is one I have complex thoughts about.  I suggest you check the episode.  It has a strong theme, a quirky humor to it, and some interesting trade offs in game play.  But it just feels... like it's older than it is.  They style is too arcadey, it lacks a save system, and a game over costs you a lot of progress.  It's fun to a certain degree, but hard to invest in, and the lack of check points requires you play it a while.

Harvest Moon 5/10
I don't know how much more I can say about Harvest Moon.  It's coming to the WiiU Virtual Console soon.  Yay?

Sonic the Hedgehog 5/10
Sonic is also a game I feel I've beaten into the ground.  It's a decent platformer, but nothing special.  The thing that makes it stand out is Sonic's acceleration and speed.  Things the game punishes you for using.

F-Zero 4/10
F-Zero is a game I feel I didn't give a fair shake.  There was nothing really wrong with it.  There just wasn't anything that stood out.  I think the graphical style was the main draw when it came out, and while it still looks good today, it's really nothing special.  I'd say skip it if you don't have a specific reason to take a look.

Act Raiser 4/10
Act Raiser's fatal flaw is poor controls, which in a platformer is a hell of a sin.  Everything just feels... loose and like you're loosing control.  Through in poor boss design, and despite the great premise the entire thing just feels... unfinished.

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja 4/10
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja's only real sin is that it's not terribly original.  Sure, the theme is more or less unique, especially for the time, but it didn't do anything game play wise that hadn't been done.  I guess it's real sin is that it didn't impress me much.

Bases Loaded 3/10
And now we move on from games that commit some sin but were otherwise interesting to games that are just bad.  Bases Loaded is on the boarder line in that regard.  The systems are real complex for an NES game, and they feel like they should add up to an interesting, fun experience.  It's just a little too hard to parse what's going on, and thus it falls short.

Ogre Battle 3/10
And speaking of too difficult to parse, Ogre Battle's interface is one giant wall.  Add on endlessly respawning enemies, and you have a disaster.  Ogre Battle 64 fixes this simply by keeping the enemies finite, and that's a great game.  Unfortunately, the series didn't start off that way.

Comix Zone 3/10
Oh boy Comix Zone.  Great premise... and that's all it's got going for it.  Boring combat, poor controls, few levels, and health drain in place of puzzles.  Man is this game hard, unfun, and not worth playing.



Double Dragon II The Revenge 2/10
Double Dragon II takes a terrible game and slaps on 2 player co-op.  This helps it out a lot, but it's still a terrible game.

Double Dragon 2/10
See above.  Remove co-op.  Add a few terribles in.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins 2/10
This game's difficulty is legendary, and while that might appeal to some, I havn't gone back and played it sense, and Castlevainia was at the top of this list for a long long time because of its difficulty.

Phantasy Star 1/1
And still at the bottom, Phantasy Star.  Moon logic puzzles, mediocre turn based combat, and designers that expect you to grind continuously all add up to a terrible terrible game.  Lots of those lately.. maybe we can do something about that next month!

The Ratings: June

It's that time again!  The more I do these columns, the more I understand why reviewers give everything a 7.  The more games you play, the more the mundane ones all sort of blur together.  Rather than give everything a 7 though, my instinct is to give stuff a rating between the 3-4 range.  Whether this is because I have higher standards or just want to defy the trope I'm not sure.  Regardless, hit the jump and see how the new meat fares!


Castlevania 10/10
I've played a couple of games that were better than Castlevania since we started the podcast, but we haven't played any of them for the podcast.  Yet. 

Mega Man 9/10
Same with Megaman, I really didn't expect it to be up this high so long.  It's got a lot of flaws, but it's fun, replaying it has just confirmed that, and I'm very excited to get to some of its sequels.

The Legend of Zelda 9/10
And the Legend of Zelda, man the best videogames on the NES were great, but part of me wishes we hadn't played so many of them so soon.  I know there are some undervalued gems out there somewhere, I just hope we play them sooner rather than later. 

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars 8/10
Finally, some new blood making it high on the charts.  Super Mario RPG is a simple but fun title from the end of the Super Nintendo's lifespan.  Graphically it's sort of impressive, however like all early 3d games, it looks terrible in comparison to what we have today, where as most 2d games still look pretty decent, having a vintage look.  The game married Super Mario's art style to an RPG pretty well, although they added a bunch of stuff that feels off tonally.  Still, this inspired games like Paper Mario that capture the Mario universe perfectly.  SMRPG almost beat out Zelda on this list, however the pacing is really funny.   It starts slow, starts compressing super fast in the middle, then slows way down for the end, which starts to make it feel like a slog on the back end.  Still, a great game and I recommend it for anyone with interest in Mario, RPGs or the Super Nintendo.

Doom 8/10
I really didn't expect Doom to stay this high this long, but it has one thing that a lot of first person shooters lack these days.  First and foremost, it's fun.  It doesn't let anything get in the way of that.  The story is stupid, not having to reload guns is stupid, and the heavy metal and demon themes are childish, but it all adds up to fun, which is a thousand times better than being "realistic."

Gradius 8/10
Speaking of things I didn't expect, I haven't played Gradius once since that episode, when it's really the sort of challenging game I love.  I think these sorts of games work best for our assignments, since they encourage being played a lot in short bursts, but don't consume a whole lot of time.  Still if you haven't grabbed it, I suggest you throw it on your 3DS. 

Metroid 7/10
Metroid is another game I didn't expect to be up here all that long, since I didn't really love it.  I liked it enough to complete it, and I don't regret that at all, but I don't think I'm ever going to play it again.  Still, for an NES title it's quite complex, and likely inspired more than one modern title. 

Super Mario Bros. 7/10
Ironically, the baseline game I wanted to compare everything else to ends up being a 7.  Super Mario Bros., while not a complex game, is still a great one though, and one anyone interested in the history of videogames or what makes them good should play.  

Final Fantasy 6/10
Maybe after I finish my Mario binge I'll go back to Final Fantasy.  I liked what was there, and got less than a quarter of the way through, but technical problems made the game so hard to have fun with.  And I'm a guy who plays Dwarf Fortress.  Oh well.  

Gunstar Heroes 6/10
Don't really have anything to say about Gunstar Heroes I haven't already.  It's fine.

Excite Bike 6/10
I wish I'd gotten Excite Bike on the 3DS instead of the Wii virtual console.  It's a very simple game, but quite fun and would be great on a phone.  It's actually really easy to get into a sort of zen state while playing it, which makes it fantastic for doing things like listening to podcasts.  That said, while fun, it's really simple, and I can't recommend it to anyone who isn't curious already. 

Kirby’s Adventure 5/10
Kirby's Adventure gets the role I envisioned Super Mario Bros. having.  The middle of the road.  It's a technical marvel, colorful, and has a huge number of interesting power ups.  Unfortunately, it's also incredibly easy, to the point of being boring.  This was by design, it was supposed to be a game for  kids, but I don't think it quite holds up.

Harvest Moon 5/10
The first assignment I didn't complete, Harvest Moon has a similar problem to Kirby in that it's boring.  However, it starts out fun, the game simply doesn't have enough going on to entertain you to completion, at least Kirby has new levels and enemies. 

Sonic the Hedgehog 5/10
And here we have the corner of games that were good ideas but just messed something up really bad.  At the top, Sonic, a decent platformer that gives you all sorts of interesting super speed options and punishes you for using them.  I've been too scared to play Sonic 2 again since we played this, but I remember it being much better and recommend you try that if you want a Sonic game. 

F-Zero 4/10
Two racing games in one month is too many, they're just too similar.  I'll admit, I didn't really play enough F-Zero, only an hour or two, it just never grabbed me.  If I'd played it more, it might actually be lower on this list, as it never really did anything that annoyed me, I just never got super into it.  F-Zero X is a game I loved, and I'm eager to see if it holds up or just feels like more of the same.

Act Raiser 4/10
I've said my piece on Act Raiser a thousand times.  Great concept, interesting themes, lousy execution. 

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja 4/10
And now we get to the games that are just sort of boring in general.  Mystical Ninja has co-op and is a fun afternoon with a friend, but that's sort of an easy add on for any game, and many have done it better sense.

Comix Zone 3/10
Man, Comix Zone, such a cool premise that doesn't deliver at all.  The enemies are bland, the story stupid, the characters forgettable, and the game play frustrating.  The music and graphics are acceptable, and the game is short which is a sort of mercy, but damn is it not worth playing.  Skip it.

Ogre Battle 3/10
Again, great ideas, a fun tactical system, but just frustratingly hard game play that ruins it all, it doesn't even have the mercy of at least being short.  If the idea of controlling an army of wizards and golems sounds interesting, play Ogre Battle 64 instead. 

Double Dragon II The Revenge 2/10
Another co-op game with almost nothing going on, terrible controls are what hurt Double Dragon 2 the most, but honestly, it's just not fun.  I hear good things about Double Dragon Neon, try that one if you're curious about the series. 

Double Dragon 2/10
Imagine Double Dragon 2 with no co-op, and terrible looping music that makes you want to kill yourself.  Ta-dah, Double Dragon! 

Ghosts ‘n Goblins 2/10
Which is still better than Ghosts 'n Goblins.  Incredible difficulty, power ups that are a detriment more often then a help, and you have to play it twice.  It's notoriously hard, but also incredibly poorly made.

Phantasy Star 1/10
Bleh.  Phantasy Star sucks.  There I'm done, tune in next month, where hopefully I'll be in a better mood.

The Ratings: May

It's time for my easy cop-out column where I hopefully say something new and insightful.  How much do I love Mega Man?  How low did I rank Phantasy Star?  Can anything stop the pure awesome that is Castlevainia?  I answer all this and more after the cut.



Castlevainia 10/10
Of course not.  Castlevainia is reaching this legendary status in my head, where no matter how good a game is, I can't help but feel that it's not quite so good as Castlevainia.  So I replayed it again really quick, and it's still a damn good game.  Good enough to be king of what we've played so far for another month.
 
MegaMan 9/10
Speaking of replaying games, giving MegaMan another go really improved my opinions of it as well.  In fact, I played it a third time after the Bonus Episode we did on it.  I feel we didn't do such a good job of explaining just why the game is so great but it's not just one thing.  The theme of all the levels is so strong, the music is great on every stage, the controls are incredibly tight.  Most of the power ups aren't really worth it and the game suffers from some minor technical errors, but that never takes away from the frantic action, and it's just the right amount of challenge.  It's a solid number two.

The Legend of Zelda 9/10
I havn't given Zelda another shake, but despite my co-hosts' problems with it, I still think it was a great game.  It doesn't hold up as well as some others, but it's very different and interesting for its time, and of course gave us a ton of great games later down the road, not just limited to the Zelda series.
Doom 8/10
I'm not a big fan of the First Person Shooter genre and when Zach suggested Doom, I sort of rolled my eyes, but had to admit it was an important part of game history.  I had a ton of fun with it though, and while I only played about half way through, I have gone back to the first level a few times to hear the music and just kill some demons for fun.  And while it demonstrates a lot of the problem with early 3d games, in particular how much easier it is to get lost in a virtual space than a real one, it has a lot of charm modern shooters have lost.  If you're a fan of the genre, check this one out for sure.
Gradius 8/10
While I havn't given it a replay like Tyler has, I almost certainly will once it hits Wii U Virtual Console and a I can play it anywhere in the house on a screen inches from my face.
Metroid 7/10
I honestly didn't expect to hold Metroid in such a high regard after so long, but the game is quite inventive and fun in its own way, not quite as influential as Zelda but clearly similar ideas were at play.
Super Mario Bros. 7/10
I really wanted Super Mario Bros. to be a base line, it's such a generic videogame to me,  I figured lots would be better.  Given the state of the review industry, perhaps it's best that the game I consider to be "just fine" hold steady at a 7/10, but it does mean this podcast hasn't turned up nearly as many diamonds in the rough as I'd hoped it might.
Final Fantasy 6/10
Speaking of my expectations for games, I still play Final Fantasy every once in a while, but the combat is just so laggy, after one or two fights I give it up, and I'm pretty lost in the dungeon I'm in.  Here's hoping the WiiU port is better than the Wii one in that regard.
Gunstar Heroes 6/10
Gunstar Heroes is just... fine.  I feel awkward saying anything bad about it, because Tyler and Alex like it so much and I had fun playing it but... it doesn't seem very deep.  It still makes the top half of games we've played thus far easily though, since it is fun.
Kirby’s Adventure 5/10
And now we reach the midstream.  Kirby is actually a pretty good game for the mid way point, it's more complex than Mario with brighter colors and a whole lot more power ups, but it's just not as fun.  A 5 year old could beat it, and that's kind of the point, but it doesn't hold my interest.  Still there's a lot worse...  though of the games we played this month, two made it above the 5 point mark and two below, a pretty decent spread.
Harvest Moon 5/10
The second game at the 5 point mark isn't quite as good, and we get the ball rolling into bad games sort of quickly.  Harvest Moon is fun, as I've said before, just avoid it like the plague if you have any sort of completionist streak.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4/10
Sonic is where we hit games that have major failings.  We discuss Sonic's heavily in that episode.  That said, it's a decent platformer with really pretty graphics, provided you go in without expectations.
Act Raiser 4/10
Act Raiser was full of potential, which gets it a spot up here, but it wasn't really fun, a trait pretty much all games below this point can "claim."
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja 4/10
Mystical Ninja is just a solid "meh"  The theme is quite strong in the visuals, but the translation rather "mucks up" the feel of things.  The combat is generic, the platforming not much better, and co-op seems almost like a desperate attempt to give the game something to buy it for.  Skip this one.

Double Dragon II The Revenge 3/10
Mystical Ninja is bad, but it definately improves on the Co-Op formula from Double Dragon II, adding a lot more that can be done between the players, much much better platforming, and a whole lot more fun.

Ogre Battle 3/10
And now we're to the point where the games just aren't fun.  Ogre Battle is at the top of that heap for the same reason as Act Raiser, it tries a lot, it has an interesting (if generic) setting, and it's very different.  It would be much much higher if they'd managed to make that fun as well.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins 2/10
Infamously hard, Ghosts 'n Goblins deserves that reputation.  Unlike Castlevainia however, which has meticulously planned difficulty that's fun to overcome and master, Ghosts 'n Goblins is a hair tearingly frustrating game with random enemy movement.  Random movement that makes the game impossible to predict and learn.  Every failure feels more like the game is cheating then like it's hard, and while being one of the hardest games of all time gives it a place in gaming history, I recommend everyone stay far far away.  It was recently released on the WiiU Virtual Console, so I may give the game another go with save states, but I don't expect to be converted.
Double Dragon 2/10
Take the poor control and bland setting of Double Dragon remove the co-op fun the amusing cut scenes and add terrible terrible music and this is what you get.  The difference between this and Ghosts 'n Goblins is that I'd at least get a sense of achievment out of that.

Phantasy Star 1/10
And the bottom of the heap.  Phantasy Star.  Where do I begin?  Every bad trope of RPGs is here.  Turn based combat (which I normally enjoy) grinding, moon logic puzzles, poor plot... the list goes on and on.  Some cool features like a talk command are hinted at, but the first few hours doesn't reveal them.  The setting is this blend of Sci-fi and fantasy that could have been really cool, but instead feels half finished, like the level designers and writers never told the monster designers it was a sci-fi game.  This is the game I least wish to return to of all the ones we've played thus far.  I hope we never play worse.

The Ratings: April

It’s that time again. Four new games under our belt, 2 Co-Op side scrollers, a tactical game, and one of the most highly regarded adventure games of all times. Lets see how they fare, and more importantly, can anything dethrone Castlevainia?

For those of you who don’t know, every month, I rank all the games we play on a scale from 1-10. This is a sliding scale, at least one game will always occupy 10/10, and one game will occupy 1/10, with other numbers filling in around them. If we play a game better than the current champ the coming month, it looses its throne. At the end of this podcast, it will be a silly list, trying to gauge how much fun I had with each game. So lets get started.

Castlevainia 10/10
No, no it can’t. This should probably be obvious to anyone that listens to the podcast, since nothing has blown us away this month, nor has any game allowed you to murder even one Dracula.

Mega Man 9/10
Nor can anything bump the Blue Bomber (remember when people called him that?) from his spot right below Dracula. There’s just something about a very basic, moderately difficult platformer where you have an attack that really speaks to me.

The Legend of Zelda 8/10
That said, we’ve certainly played some games of merit, including the first installment in the Zelda franchise, one of the few game franchises that can still get me to buy and play a game on launch day. Our conversation about this game off the mics compared to the episode on it is… weird to me. We all stated at least some level of frustration with it, I was the most favorable towards it, Zach seemed not to like it much at all, and Tyler was sort of in the middle, leaning towards dislike. By the end though, he agreed it was better than Metroid. My feelings for this game are hard to express. Part of my joy in it is out of loyalty to the franchise. My brother asked me if he should play it and I said “it’s not a good game by modern standards”. At the same time, if you’ve any interest in The Legend Of Zelda or the history of video games, I highly recommend you give it a play through.

Gradius 7/10
I’m a little sad about Gradius, the fun arcade action it provides made me think I’d go back to it every once in a while to give it a try or two to see if I could get any further. Sadly I havn’t touched it since we recorded our episode. It’s a pity, hopefully I will soon.

Metroid 7/10
Metroid’s unique non-linear style and fun combat keeps it here, but I can’t help but feel the fact that we’re not playing games that place higher either means we’re terrible at picking them, or there aren’t as many good old games as nostalgia would like me to think

Super Mario Bros. 6/10
I still like the idea of this game being my mid-point. It’s just what my conception of videogames was based on for so long. It’s more than outdated now, but as I’ve said in podcasts, The Legend of Zelda didn’t seem like a game to me because it controlled your jumps. The thought of games were you can’t jump at all was beyond my comprehension. It’s still a good game though, better than a lot of others, so here it stands.

Final Fantasy 6/10
Unlike Gradius, I actually have gone back and played a little Final Fantasy, in order to compare it to another game we’re playing as the assignment in the near future. It’s still fun, but it’s still to slow to focus on. I didn’t have as much fun as playing Mario, but that’s the only reason it’s ranked below it, and I anticipate its rank might rise in the future, especially if we don’t play some really good games soon.

Gunstar Heroes 5/10
For some reason, I feel like I should mark games that rely on co-op to be fun lower than other games. This can be seen with the Double Dragon titles taking the bottom slots, and I’m not sure why. Co-op to some extent is only as fun as the partner you play it with, but at the same time, if a game is truly bad I feel I’d go find something else to do. Playing Gunstar with Alex and Tyler, switching controllers like it was 1995 again was a lot of fun. But I don’t think the game is all that good. If it sounded like it was worth checking out in the episode, and you have a friend to check it out with, do so. Otherwise, skip it.

Harvest Moon 5/10
After thinking on it some more, I’ve decided Harvest Moon actually should be ahead of Kirby’s Adventure. The game is fun. The problem is, it’s not engaging for the length of the game. For a completionist like me… who feels some sort of neurotic need to finish games, especially games with low skill caps, it’s irritating, but it is fun for a while. That said, there are a huge number of sequels and spin offs, and you’re better off looking there.

Kirby’s Adventure 5/10
And here Kirby is in his new spot. Honestly, I was expecting Kirby’s adventure to quickly fall off this list. It’s not a bad game, it’s just not engaging. With its pretty colors, it feels way more Sega than Nintendo. Move along.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4/10
Speaking of games that just aren’t fun… well I feel kind of like a broken record. The Blue Blur’s first game isn’t nearly as good as the Blue Bomber’s. Hopefully we’ll find Sonic 2 more to our taste when we get that far.

Act Raiser 3/10
Act Raiser is not a very fun game, the combat is broken, the platforming awkward, and the sim portions boring. That said, I finished it… and there are a lot of good new ideas in it. That gets it a lot of points in my book. It’s still very low on the totem pole, but thinking on it some more, it’s been raised up quite a bit.

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja 3/10
As I stated, I feel that I should dock a game if they’re more fun when playing co-op. That said… adding a co-op feature should be a boon if it makes a game better. Mystical Ninja co-op was a lot of fun. However, single player was nothing but constant frustration, with many things tacked on to increase the length, but not fun of the game. Come on Konami, it’s how you use it.

 Double Dragon II The Revenge 2/10 Unfortunately for The Revenge, co-op is kind of all it has. That along with confusing controls and a so bad its good story puts it very near the bottom of the list. Sadly, it doesn’t quite hit rock bottom.

Ogre Battle 2/10 I want to like Ogre Battle, I want to rank it higher. I like tactical games, I like fantasy, I love the thought of leading an army of liches dragons and knights into battle against an enemy force. The game just isn’t fun, it’s the game that’s felt like the most work of any that we’ve played, it’s just garbage. Avoid it.

 Double Dragon 1/10 Double Dragon has terrible music, recycled bosses, boring game play, and no co-op. It retains its spot at the bottom of the heap. Will it stay there? We’ll see.

The Ratings: End of February, March, and into April



So I haven’t posted here in a while, and not to let Tyler dominate our sweet blog, I’ve decided to start writing as well!  Since I’ve sort of continued to give games number ratings at the spur of the moment near the end of each episode, I’ve decided to publish a revised list each month, with each game sliding around.  Ideally, this will work like Monopoly, I can only give a game a number rating if there are an equal number of games with each rating.  The exceptions will be 10/10 and 1/10, which are reserved for the best and worst game we’ve played during the Podcasts run.  Without further ado, here’s the list.

Castlevania 10/10
Castlevania maintains it’s spot at the top, for now anyway, just the right mix of challenge and theme.

Mega Man 9/10
Mega Man moves up, due mostly to having played a whole lot more games, and it’s still the perfect combination of action and jumping puzzles that makes for a near perfect NES game.

Gradius 8/10
The most recent game we’ve played, Gradius is considered a classic by man, and it’s easy to see why.  It has a very arcady look and feel, with all sorts of flashing lights, and it’s crazy hard, but once you start to build some skill in it, it’s a lot of fun.  Even though I still haven’t beaten level 3, each time I give it a try it’s an incredible amount of fun.  I certainly wouldn’t want every game to be like Gradius, but I absolutely love it, and I’m very eager to try Gradius III, Super R Type, and other games in the genre.

Metroid 7/10
Metroid is one of the great landmarks of the NES and really shows what a videogame could be, eschewing the traditional level sequence for a single large world to explore.  It’s not a sandbox in the same way we think of such games now, offering little to do but kill bosses and find items, but it has the same set up, if on a much smaller scale.  The lack of a map screen really hurts this game, making it worse then more traditional games that are executed with precision like Castlevania and Mega Man, but it’s still worth an in depth look by anyone interested in game history.

Super Mario Bros. 6/10
A classic, I’m really not sure what I should say about Super Mario Bros…. easily the most influential game on the NES, probably the most influential of the 1980s, maybe the most influential game ever.  I really like the idea of this being my 5/10 midpoint, of rating games purely on whether or not they’re more fun then Super Mario Bros.  Unfortunately, we’ve played way more games that aren’t as good as this than are better, and thus it sits at 6/10.

Final Fantasy 5/10
While I gave it a very favorable review in the episode we recorded on the game, my opinion of Final Fantasy has sort of fallen off since.  I tried to go back and finish it multiple times, and every time I failed.  I actively tried to avoid playing it when it was the assignment as well, and while the game’s systems are interesting and I really want to explore them more, the combat is just too slow.  It kills the game and makes it boring, and no matter how innovative a game is trying to be, the first thing it should be is fun.

Kirby’s Adventure 4/10
Speaking of games that just weren’t fun, for me at least, Kirby’s adventure takes a bit of a hit due to us playing better games, though it’s still a technical marvel as far as NES games are concerened.


Harvest Moon 4/10
While I kind of savaged it in our episode, Harvest Moon was a ton of fun for the first year or so of the game.  The real problem comes from the fact that I was trying to beat it, and the fun died off long before that point, I should have quit while I was ahead.  It was fun for that first chunk, and while 8 dollars will buy you a whole lot more entertainment elsewhere in this day and age, I’ve boosted its rating here to reflect that.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3/10
Flashy graphics and a “cool” in the 90s sense mascot don’t make up for the fact that this game simply isn’t any fun.  My opinion of it gets a little better every day I don’t play it, and there are so many good ideas in it, but it’s just so counter-intuitive.  I remember Sonic the Hedgehog 2 being much better, so perhaps the franchise will be redeemed in my eyes when we get around to that.

Double Dragon II The Revenge 2/10
The game is better than Double Dragon, but really all they added onto it was Co-Op.  That adds a whole lot to a game, but there are better games (Scott Pilgrim) that do the same (Scott Pilgrim) for about the same price (Scott Pilgrim) only better (Scott Pilgrim).  I recommend you pick up the Scott Pilgrim game on XBLA and the PSN Store instead.

ActRaiser 2/10
Act Raiser, while not a very fun game, tried a whole lot of new things, and that’s resulted in it getting put above at least one game this go around.

Double Dragon 1/10
And here’s the bottom of the barrel.  Poor graphics, reuses enemies constantly, shaky controls, terrible music, I really don’t get why this game is considered a classic, like at all.  And I hope I never have to play anything like this again.

Well, that’s the ratings for this month, with luck April will bring not just May flowers, but some sweet old videogames as well.  Got a suggestion for a game you’d like to see us play?  Leave a comment, or email us at LTOVG@Lasttimeonvideogames.com


In the land before Podcasts

Hey everyone, it's me Geremy, and this is my first post!  Before we decided to record a podcast, we played a couple of games and tried out different formats of review.  While we've talked a lot about going back and recording episodes on them, they're not as fresh in our heads as the episodes when we record.  Still, we make a lot of references to them, often using them as a base line for comparisons of other games, and the first few podcasts we have are mostly negative, so I wanted to post my thoughts real quickly on what we have done so far.  Also, I've been half joking about rating every game we play on a sliding scale from 1-10, with the worst game we've played always being at 1 and the best at 10, in parody of now dead gaming magazines with a scale from 7-10.  So without further ado, here's the games we've played so far and how they rank.

Castlevainia-10/10
I'd never played any game in the Castlevainia series before this one, and oh man was I missing out.  The jumps are a bit awkward at first, and the game is incredibly hard, but its the kind of hard that's really really satisfying and makes you say "just one more time" into the wee hours of the night.  I sunk 18 hours into this game which is a mere 6 levels, and I don't regret one of them.  It made me quickly seek out Symphony of the Night to see where this sort of game play could go.  Seriously, if you've never played this game and have a Wii and any interest in old videogames, pick it up.

Mega Man-8/10
While I've played Mega Man games in the past, the only ones I'd ever beaten were Legends for the Play Station and Battle Network on the GBA, I'd never beaten a classic Mega Man game before, so this was the first assignment I suggested.  And I loved it.  It's hard, but not as hard as Castlevainia, until Wiley's Castle.  There's a boss in there that's just impossible to beat, but other then that, the game is great and if you have any interest in Mega Man, I suggest you give it a play through.

Kirby's Adventure-5/10
The first game that me and my partner in crime really disagreed on.  Kirby's Adventure for the NES isn't the first Kirby game, but it's the first to introduce his trademark ability to copy an enemies powers.  Some of the powers are really cool, and not ones I'm familiar with from later games in the series.  And for an NES game, its damn impressive, the graphics are amazing, and really have that Kirby story book feel, with popping colors.  The world map seems more like Super Mario World than Super Mario 3, and it even has three save files rather than a continue or password system.  That said... the game is easy.  Really really easy.  To the point where any time I died, it was because I got bored and quit paying attention, rather then because of any challenge in the game.  It's not bad, but it couldn't hold my attention at all, and I finished it only because it was a game we assigned each other.  If you're a huge Kirby fan, it might be worth giving it a look, but if not, skip it, and if you want to get into the series, play the way better Kirby Superstar for the SNES instead.

Act Raiser-1/10
Which brings us to this weeks offering, Act Raiser, my thoughts on it are made clear in the podcast.

I think I'll post this list once a month or so, with the updated ratings for each game, and some extra notes on the ones that moved around.