Archive for May, 2012

System: Super Nintendo

Release Date: November 1994

Rarity: 18%

Price/Location: $2.99/Gaming Warehouse (Grandville, MI)

This is the game that sparked the idea for this blog. I see this game sitting on a shelf priced at $2.99. I ask myself, “Why would this Nintendo-published game be priced so low?” Now, back in the day, Nintendo wasn’t known for developing or publishing crap games. Often times if you go into a place that sells these classic games, these Nintendo published/developed games are often going to be priced higher. The prices for these games can usually reach anywhere from $20 to 40 (see Super Mario RPG or Donkey Kong Country). Barring any old sports titles Nintendo may have published (which are almost always $0.99, with few exceptions), these games tend to hold their value over time. Which brings me to Tin Star. It piqued my curiosity. Why is it only $2.99? Why is this game amongst the numerous Madden ’94s and Super Bass Fishing games?

By the end of this review, I will determine if I would give this game a HIGH FIVE or if it needs to be returned to the BARGAIN BIN.

The title screen (pictured above) gave me some solace that this was going to be a quality game. Seeing Copyright 1994 Nintendo at the bottom assured me that things were going to be okay. The options menu, however, gave me the first hint that I may not like what I’m about to see:

CURSOR SPEED

Cursor Speed? CURSOR SPEED?! No. NO! It can’t be one of these games. I don’t like these games! Where you have to use the d-pad to move around an aiming reticule to shoot bad guys. I’ve never played one game with this method of control that I’ve actually enjoyed. Sure the Jurassic Park arcade game had you manually control an aiming reticule, but the controller actually made you feel like you were holding a gun. This is merely an SNES controller. I press on.

So the levels in Tin Star are your typical world 1-1, 1-2, yada yada setup, where each “world” is a day of the week (1-1 through 1-4 is Monday). So each day starts off with target practice. You, playing as the hero Tin Star, aim the reticule over a jug sitting on a fence and use the A or B button to shoot it. There is no tutorial or on-screen guidance so you are tasked with figuring out the controls on your own. You’ll need to juggle the jug with your bullets in order to earn more money. Money in this game serves as a point system and, from what I can tell of my initial session with Tin Star, is only spent on saving your game. There may be opportunities later in the game to spend accumulated funds, but I made it to Wednesday without such an opportunity.

The game begins with our hero, a robot cowboy named Tin Star riding into town to help fight crime. The odd thing about this game is that everyone is an overly cartoony robot, despite the old west setting. I guess this cartoon robot art style was a way for Nintendo to maintain its low violence policy in their games early on (such as no blood in the SNES version of Mortal Kombat). These levels are either a side-scrolling 3rd person view or a first-person view with the camera sliding side to side (reminiscent of a carnival shooting gallery). The meat of the game takes place in these segments. Tin Star is defending a stagecoach and a train in these early levels from being invaded by the criminals. Things can get kind of hectic in these segments and some enemy sprites can be hidden when they enter a train car. Thankfully the busyness of the on-screen action is offset by the surprisingly tight controls. Aiming the reticule is quite a cinch and doesn’t feel floaty like some similarly controlled games. At the end of each day, you’ll find yourself in a classic old western showdown with the leader of a gang. To draw your weapon and shoot, you’ll have to wait for a DRAW symbol to appear in one of the four corners of the screen, which is shaped like the cylinder of a gun. Shoot that, then aim for your opponent before he shoots you to score a hit. Deplete his life meter to grab a win. After this you’ll have an opportunity to save using some acquired funds and a new day will start. Some of the stages will have a mini-boss and my biggest complaint of the game stems from these mini-boss fights. In a game as hectic as this one can get, the weak points of these guys is not always apparent, and I found myself frantically shooting at these guys not doing any damage while my life meter was rapidly depleted.

Verdict: HIGH FIVE

I was quite surprised with this game. Every indication initially led me to believe that this game was going to suck and that it deserves its asking price. The tight aiming controls really helped me enjoy this game. I was able to aim quickly and take out the baddies with ease and actually have fun along the way. At no point, aside from struggling with the minibosses, did I feel overly frustrated with the game. I feel for less than a five-spot, I did well in picking up this game.

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