Posted by theuselessgod (339 posts) -

Day 9, and still going. I picked up Super Return of the Jedi today at the game store, finally rounding off my Super Star Wars SNES collection in memory of LucasArts. Pity that company kind of fell of the deep end...then fell off completely.

Today's batch is a mixed bunch of interesting NES games, though I may change your mind about one of them. Also, I've started playing Sleeping Dogs on the PC after Vinny on GiantBomb wouldn't shut up about it...and it's pretty good! Based on the few hours I've sunk, I'd recommend it fo' sho.'

Here's a big band arrangement of the best Zelda song for ya, and on with the reviews.

Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout

A little background

The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout (yeah, I put it wrong in the header graphic, sue me) was released in September of 1990 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bugs Bunny. It was created by Kemco, who actually released a fair number of quality games like Shadowgate, Desert Commander, and others, though to be honest 90% of what they put out was licensed junk. Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout (I'm going to call it that even though it's wrong) is a spin-off sequel to The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle, which is total crap and somehow the series survived all the way to the GBA days.

This game is probably most famous for being panned by a certain gaming nerd who tends to have a temper issue, but is the game really all that bad?

First impressions last forever

I bought this game solely because, as I watched AVGN play it, I thought it looked fun. Really! And guess what? The game is pretty fun! The graphics remind me a lot of the Tiny Tunes game (that's a compliment), and even though they're not the best ever, the game still looks good. Bugs jumps like he's on the moon (which I guess makes sense since he's a rabbit) and can bash enemies with a short range hammer.

What I really noticed was whenever you picked up the carrots (essentially Mario's coins), they turn into little WB logos. Shameless.

But as I played further...

Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout really sucked me in. It has a few cool mechanics, too. Those WBs left behind after picking up carrots? They double as platforms, meaning some areas you have to collect carrots first, then go back and use them as platforms to continue. Skilled players can also get a carrot and still land on the platform, saving time and getting to secret areas. It's a neat gimmick.

The enemies are weird and don't variate much, the most common being these hammer guys that leap into the air and lunge down at you. The weird thing is none of the enemies (except the ghosts later) do any damage if you are standing on top of them, Mario 2 style. Only if you hit them from the side (or get caught in an attack animation) do you take damage.

The biggest annoyance is that when you do take damage, you can't use your weapon for a while when you're invincible. That's less annoying during the game, where you can use the opportunity and the long "stun" time to just run past all the enemies, but on the bosses it can screw you over.

The bosses are also all total jokes. The only one remotely difficult is Yosemite Sam, because he has a projectile. The rest are very simple patterns or deflecting projectiles with the hammer's generous hit box. Daffy's "boss fights" aren't even boss fights; you can't kill him, you just have to jump to the big carrot. One of them I just jumped straight up and bam, boss beaten. Didn't even have to move.

So what's the conclusion?

I'm going to very heartily disagree with AVGN here: The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout is an excellent game. Ok, "excellent" might be a bit generous, but it's still a solid platformer with some cool new ideas. It's only real weakness is that it's really easy and really short. Because of a minigame at the end of the level (where you gamble your carrots to get lives), you can horde absurd amounts of 1ups. By the end of the game, I had 87, and that was with me dying quite a bit on the more obnoxious levels. The other big annoyance in that regard is no mid-level checkpoints, but that only really gets on your nerves for the last three or four levels. This isn't Ghouls and Goblins by any means.

All in all, BBBB is fun, has good graphics and control, feels unique (actually feels a bit like Super Mario Land on the Game Boy for some reason. That's a compliment.) and is a good way to burn an hour or so it takes to beat it. If you see it at the game store, give it a shot! It's certainly one of the more "playable" NES platformers out there.

Copies are cheap, usually around $3.


A little background

Burgertime is a port of an arcade game of the same name, published by Data East (not them again...) in May of 1987, five years after the arcade game debuted. The game has a Donkey Kong-esque arcade feel to it (or more of a hybrid between DK1 and Jr.) with punishing difficulty mixed with lots of vertical and horizontal enemy dodging. It also stars a dude called "Peter Pepper," who should totally hang out with Master Higgens in the "great old-school character names" club.

First impressions last forever

This game is hella hard. I think I like it (I really enjoy old arcade pointy games like Pac-Man, Galaga, and the Donkey Kong games, but for some reason I'm just awful at Burgertime.

That being said, this is a pretty faithful arcade port (from what little of the arcade version I've played). It looks like an old NES game, but doesn't fall into that usual Data East trap of porting games over and making them way worse. Maybe because Data East also made the arcade version of this one. Who knows.

But as I played further...

I still suck at it, but it's still a fun, challenging arcade game. The goal is simple: stomp on all the ingredients (in order, if possible) of the burgers to drop them below, and once you finish four burgers you go to the next stage. The issues is that you have to climb up and down all these ladders, and these jerk foods all want you dead. Eggs, milk, hot-dogs: all murderers. Calamity!

You have a limited stun attack for emergencies, but the real way to kill them is to smash-em-up into the sandwich by dropping the ingredients on them (somebody's getting a little "extra" with their burger. Hope they like egg!). It's kind of Donkey Kong Jr. in that way, except I'm actually good at Donkey Kong Jr. I suck at Burgertime, if you missed that memo.

So what's the conclusion?

I'd say play the arcade game (or an emulated copy) a bit and decide if it's your cup of arcade tea, and if so snatch it up. If not, then don't. I'm not saying if this game is good or bad, and as a port it's solidly made and accurate to the arcade experience.

I just suck at it.

That's the thing about these old arcade games: they're really hit-or-miss. I think that's why Pac-Man took off so well: it's probably the most accessible and playable of the arcade games of that era. The others had such a high bar of entry, people didn't want to put more coins in. Like Burgertime. Which I suck at.

Woah, tangent.

Anyway, if you like arcade games, Burgertime is 'aight. If you don't, then don't bother.

It's usually around $5-10 for a cart.

Captain Skyhawk

A little background

In June of 1991, Rare punched out yet another game for the NES, this time bringing us Captain Skyhawk. This game is another one that seems to plague my local gaming stores (it and Silent Scope): there's like twenty trillion copies and I don't know why. Usually when that happens, I assume the game is bad. Is this game bad? Well, that's what I'm here for.

Also, fun fact: this game's music was composed by David Wise, who also did all the Donkey Kong Country music. Except now that I think about it, I don't remember much music in this game, just a lot of shooting and jet engine sounds. Maybe he wrote that, too, who knows.

First impressions last forever

Holy balls this game looks like Zaxxon, and that's a good thing (Zaxxon is boss hog!). You fly a plane over an 3D esque landscape, being able to determine your height from the ground. The difference between this and Zaxxon is Zaxxon was on an isometric style, while this one you just fly straight up. Which isn't as cool, because Zaxxon had areas that required precise height/depth levels to continue, while Captain Starhawk you can just fly at maximum height 99% of the time and be ok. I'm fine with this.

After beating the first level oh hey a 3D, tail-end fighting stage ala Afterburner? Did they just rip off a bunch of Sega games to make this?

But as I played further...

They did rip off a bunch of Sega games to make this, but you know what? I'm ok with it, because Captain Starhawk is all right in my book.

The "another damn NES shmup" stages are my favorite, because they control best and have the best looking graphics, as well as are a fun challenge. The first stage is just survival, while the second requires you to bomb two locations (and will cycle until you do). Not to bad, honestly.

The 3D stages kind of suck, Top Gun style. I mean, they're ok, and mostly just seem there as bonus stages, but the graphics look bad and the controls are dodgy at best.

I do like that this game has an upgrade system, though you should just use a turbo controller and only upgrade your regular cannon, because then you'll destroy everything. I don't like that you have to "dock with the space station"(?! Why is a jet in space?) in order to proceed at that point, which is annoying until you figure out the exact timing.

Also: don't be fooled by the "Continue?" button without a number; you only get five and then it's a game over.

So what's the conclusion?

I think this game's ok. I was a huge fan of Zaxxon back when my parents first bought a Commodore 64 (I was like three or something), and this game has that Zaxxon feel to it. I also like Afterburner, which this game doesn't ape quite as well. I still have to give it to Rare, though: those guys sure dabbled in just about every genre before becoming Microsoft's Kinect bitch. And while I still think they're firmly set as gaming's "Jack of all trades, master of none," Captain Starhawk is still a fun and solid NES game.

If you like shooters, NES jet sound effects, and all those bad crazy NES "special graphics," Captain Skyhawk's got it all here and in spades for ya. Also in space. Why is the jet in space?

Copies are like $3.

Casino Kid

A little background

Ah, Casino Kid. An attempt to fuse the JRPG sprites and elements from Dragon Quest into a game about playing blackjack and poker. SOFEL (whose only other game of note was Wall Street Kid) pumped this game out in October of 1989. There's a truckload of gambling games on the NES, but people seem to remember this one because it looks like a JRPG, with a big-headed sprite wandering around and participating in activities. Hey, that sounds like another game that ended up sucking, Adventures in the Magic Kingdom! Uh oh.

Also, I didn't pay $3 for it, despite what that suggests. Our local game store has 3 for $1 sports and casino games (and I have a 10% off card), so I got it for 30 cents. Score?

First impressions last forever

The game does look like a JRPG! But in a casino! How could this go bad?

But as I played further...

Man, this game sucks.

So the first thing you'll notice is you walk super slow. That's great.

Then you notice that you can't actually play with anybody; you have to play with specific people, in order. The first person is (obviously) the farthest possible distance from you in this maze-like casino, so good luck finding them and getting to actual gameplay.

The "casino" part is also very underwhelming. While it does have poker and blackjack, the game isn't really all I don't mind casino games for the most part, but something about Casino Kid is boring.

The worst part is in order to progress, you have to completely clean out the person. Then you'll have to find the other random person who will now play with you, beat them, and continue. Do that enough times and you win the game. Joy.

So what's the conclusion?

Casino Kid is a pitiful casino game. While it maybe had some good ideas hidden under there (Sword & Poker on iOS combined poker and JRPGs in the most awesome way possible), they must have all been swept under the rug before this game actually came out. Not to spoil future reviews, but the only gambling game you need on the NES (if that's your thing) is Vegas Dreams, which puts this game to complete shame. Bad gambling, boring slow gameplay, and having to walk to arbitrary spots are just huge speed bumps on a road that only leads to playing freaking blackjack anyway.

Avoid. Unless you are collector, and then you can justify the 30 cents. Sort of.

#1 Posted by TruthTellah (9635 posts) -

I really got a kick of out Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout, as well. I played it quite a bit. Definitely wouldn't say it was great, but it had a level of effort in it that one might not expect from a licensed game like that. Worth checking out if you're looking for old NES games like that.

#2 Posted by Chop (2010 posts) -

Really enjoying these blogs. Keep it up, duder!

#3 Posted by Brackynews (4243 posts) -

Clicked for Captain Skyhawk. Left satisfied. :)

#4 Posted by theuselessgod (339 posts) -

I really got a kick of out Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout, as well. I played it quite a bit. Definitely wouldn't say it was great, but it had a level of effort in it that one might not expect from a licensed game like that. Worth checking out if you're looking for old NES games like that.

Agreed! It's hardly revolutionary, but it really isn't as bad as people make it out to be.

@chop said:

Really enjoying these blogs. Keep it up, duder!

Thank you! I'm glad people are reading these. Sometimes I wonder...:P

Clicked for Captain Skyhawk. Left satisfied. :)

I actually never played that game growing up, so I have no nostalgia for it at all. I was very impressed and actually booted it up today (even though it wasn't on today's review list) to replay it to try and beat my high score. Great game!

#5 Edited by jewunit (1091 posts) -

For what it's worth, I thought Casino Kid II was a bit more enjoyable and slightly nicer aesthetically. It's still a casino game though.

#6 Edited by theuselessgod (339 posts) -
@jewunit said:

For what it's worth, I thought Casino Kid II was a bit more enjoyable and slightly nicer aesthetically. It's still a casino game though.

I never played the second one, but now I'll keep my eye out for it!

#7 Edited by Wheady (115 posts) -

Bugs Bunny and Skyhawk sound pretty fun. Casino Kid though...doesn't sound super awesome, lol.

keep these up! very enjoyable read and gives me more things to look for when building my collection.