Two of Us Against the World – Nintendo Entertainment System – A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia – 1990

Title.jpgA Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia
Nintendo Entertainment System
Imagineering / Absolute Entertainment
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
1990

The introduction of the NES to the video gaming market felt like it was a time where a lot of chances were taken. Not to belittle the consoles that had come before it. There were plenty of games that tried something new, but it felt like there was a marked shift in capabilities for the system and the approach to video game mechanics began to spread to a larger variety that was accessible to more developers. With that, some companies attempted to step outside of the box a bit, jumping from their work on earlier consoles to embrace the growth of technology in the field.

Such was the case with Imagineering and Absolute Entertainment who had produced and published games for the Atari and Commodore 64 before making the jump onto the Nintendo Entertainment System. With a bit of innovation and some high aspirations, their first attempt to break into the NES market in conjunction with one another was with a little game that has seen a few entries in its legacy called A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia.

Attempting to put a spin on the classic adventure platformers that were so plentiful in the system’s library, the idea was to create a game that did away with tedious inventory management and would be another step forward in the genre given the influence designer and programmer David Crane had already with his work on Pitfall!, a classic in its own right that pushed the adventure scene in a promising direction.

Having played this game as a kid, I had never finished it and remembered it being a bit too challenging when I had attempted it last. One morning, with my renewed resolved and a few more years of gaming under my belt, I decided to take a swing through the game and take a journey with A Boy and His Blob. Continue reading

Make Like a Tree and Get Out of Here – Nintendo Entertainment System – Back to the Future – 1989

Back to the Future TitleBack to the Future
Nintendo Entertainment System
Beam Software/LJN
Genre: Run-and-Gun Action
1989

Here we are again. Another film adaptation game on the NES, another trial I have wittingly thrown myself into. I’ve made no secret of my love for the somewhat broken Friday the 13th and my enjoyment of the slightly-more-broken Nightmare on Elm Street. That said, those games are also based off of films that I love. Is it biased to give games leeway because we love the source material? Kind of. I still stand by the idea that Friday the 13th has more to offer than it gets credit for, at the very least.

That said, what happens when a game comes up for a property that you’re ambivalent about? Don’t get me wrong- I really enjoy the Back to the Future films. I didn’t grow up watching them every day or anything, though. In fact, I didn’t watch the entirety of the first film until sometime in my late high school career. I enjoyed it, but it doesn’t have the nostalgia factor that some of my favorites have.

I did, however, have vague memories of playing the game on Nintendo a while ago. My childhood mind had some recollections of near-impossible minigames and something about running down a street. For whatever reason, I decided that I wanted to try to fill in those gaps and go back to play Back to the Future now that I’ve grown a bit and found an appreciation for particular game design choices and gained more of a critical eye for ways older games could be improved on.

I’m sure you can already tell how this went, but let’s push forward and maybe we’ll learn a thing or two along the journey!
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Be Sure to Try It Soon-y! – Nintendo Entertainment System – Tiny Toon Adventures – 1991

Tiny Toon Adventures (U)_001
Tiny Toon Adventures

Nintendo Entertainment System
Konami
Genre: Platformer
1991

I grew up with the Looney Tunes among other cartoons and television.  It might be more apt to say that my parents grew up with the Looney Tunes since most of the shorts I watched with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the crew were created well before my time.  There were still cartoons being produced starring those ink and pen anthropomorphic comedians but while they were teaching me the fundamentals of well-timed jokes, they were clearly having a bit of an issue reaching a younger generation.

Cut to 1990 when Warner Brothers, the company that produced Looney Tunes and the Merrie Melodies cartoons, decided that they wanted to “inject new life” into their animation department by creating a show that featured younger versions of the characters the public had come to know and love.  Alongside plenty of other shows that turned classic characters into children and babies at the time, Tiny Toon Adventures, a cartoon about the next generation of Warner Brothers’ stars in training, came to life.

As was the way at the time, once the show had proven to be remotely successful, the market was flooded with merchandise.  Stuffed dolls, lunchboxes, coloring books and, of course, video games. The first of these to hit the shelves was for the Nintendo Entertainment System a year after the cartoon had its first episodes on the air.  Given the mild phenomenon, the game arrived to mostly great reviews across the board. I had some fond memories of playing this game with my babysitter as a kid, but I know some of my other favorite games growing up have let me down as I’ve gone back to them now.

As usual, I had to figure out if Tiny Toon Adventures was one of those games that would fold under the weight of time.
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Case Study in Fading Magic – Nintendo Entertainment System – Hydlide – 1989

Hydlide1Hydlide
Nintendo Entertainment System
T&E Soft Incorporated/FCI
Genre: Action RPG
1989

Tracing any genre back to its roots is difficult, though you can usually find a batch of games that are clear frontrunners in innovation.  Mechanically speaking, there are a lot of games that owe their predecessors for concepts that were not quite perfect when they appeared but have since been worked to impressive precision.  For better or worse, Hydlide was one of those frontrunners.

Originally released in 1984 for computers in Japan, the game worked to present a fantasy role-playing game like no other, though it was joined by Falcom’s Dragon Slayer series at about the same time.  Both are action RPGs and while Dragon Slayer still comes up pretty frequently in my studies on video games and history, I’d only heard of Hydlide in passing once or twice before I found a complete-in-box version at my local gaming store.

There had to be some reason that I had heard so much about one series and not the other, I figured.  Looking into FCI, the publisher, I noticed that they had some hand in helping the Ultima and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games make it over this way, and I’ve enjoyed what I played of those.

Let me recount my journey for you, then, of how I felt about Hydlide on its own merits, historically and playing through it in the year 2018.

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Dabble If You Dare – Nintendo Entertainment System – Taboo: The Sixth Sense – 1989

Taboo Title
Taboo: The Sixth Sense
Nintendo Entertainment System
Rare/Tradewest
Genre: Simulation
1989

Do you believe in the spiritual and the supernatural?  What if there is some kind of force that guides your fate?  The nature of the mystical and magical has permeated the history of the world for as long as the written record has existed and then some.  Whether you believe in it or not, it’s difficult to avoid those that feel there is something “more”- and that there are those who can sense those elements through some kind of attunement to them.

Taboo: The Sixth Sense isn’t a game in the classical sense, though it is meant strictly for entertainment purposes.  Much like arcade novelties like love testers and penny presses, the game is more of an experience than anything else, and it takes about five minutes or so to make a run through.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really much else to write about Taboo without taking away from the rest of what I have to write as a result- so on with the show!

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