Archive for April, 2014

solarstrikerbox

Source: GameFAQs

System: Game Boy

Release Date: February 1990

Rarity: 21%

Price: $3.99

I’ve passed this game up numerous times when shopping around for games to play. For some reason Solar Striker was never very eye-catching to me. I just imagined it as some cruddy space-shooter game that probably sold for $20 brand new upon release. But I recently discovered that Solar Striker was a 1st-party game developed by Nintendo R&D1. What other classically legendary games was Nintendo R&D1 responsible for? Go ahead and take a look at the Wikipedia page for Nintendo R&D1 and see for yourself. There’s too many to list here.

They also developed and created the Game Boy itself. Whoa. (Source: giantbomb.com)

They also developed and created the Game Boy itself. Whoa. (Image source: giantbomb.com)

Learning that, I had high hopes for this game. This was the only shooter of its kind developed in-house by Nintendo, so I was excited to experience their one-and-only take on a classic genre. I hoped to find out if there was a reason Nintendo never made another game like this. Was it was so great that no follow-up could ever top it? Or was it so bad it was doomed to live in the obscurity that I rescued it from. Well… this is Nintendo we’re talking about here. If it was good, they WOULD have made a sequel to it. My hopes have slightly diminished.

Seeing "Nintendo" next to that copyright date gives me the warm 'n' fuzzies.

Seeing “Nintendo” next to that copyright date gives me the warm ‘n’ fuzzies.

As soon as the start button is pressed, the game begins. No backstory to learn, no opening cutscene, nothing. This was the (almost) 80’s! That’s what the instruction manuals are for!

30 seconds of reading and some imagination in 1990. 15 minutes of opening cutscenes in 2014. (image source: eBay)

30 seconds of reading and some imagination in 1990. 15 minutes of opening cutscenes in 2014. (image source: eBay)

The game plays like your everyday basic vertically-scrolling shooter. Both A and B fire your lasers and the control pad moves your ship up/down/left/right. Nothing complicated here. That said, that’s the only real issue with this game. It’s not very complicated. It’s a very simple game. Scroll up, shoot enemy ships, and rack up points. That’s what games in this era were all about! Forget the backstory! Let me blow stuff up! I’m like a kid playing Grand Theft Auto for the first time! Pew, pew, pew!

Don't forget getting that double laser. Double lasers rule!

Don’t forget getting that double laser. Double lasers rule!

Verdict: HIGH FIVE

It helps that, despite its simplicity, it does what it does well. The controls are great, the framerate and speed are good, and even the music is fun. Just like Mole Mania, this game is an overlooked gem in the 1st party Nintendo library. I think for $3.99, this is the maximum you should pay for this game. It’s relatively common and there’s not a whole lot to it, but it’s amazing nonetheless.

Not all things that are simple are bad. (image source: quickmeme)

Not all things that are simple are bad. (image source: quickmeme)

Thanks for reading! Twitter and Facebook links on the left side!

mmbox

Source: GameFAQs

System: Game Boy

Release Date: January 1990

Rarity: 25%

Price: $0.99

One of my earliest gaming memories involves playing Excitebike on the NES. My friends and I would use the edit mode to create the wackiest tracks we could to see if we could out do each other. It all came to a head when one of us (probably me) made a course of nothing but large hills. They take forever to get up if you don’t have enough speed. Of course as close as these hills were put together, building speed was impossible. This led to a course of nothing but grass patches and the eventual demise of Excitebike in our NES gaming rotation.

It wasn't exciting anymore.

It wasn’t exciting anymore.  (Source: Wikipedia)

I bring up Excitebike because it seems quite the inspiration for Motocross Maniacs. This game was published by Ultra Games, a subsidiary of Konami, created to skirt Nintendo’s early limits imposed on 3rd party developers as to how many games they can release per year on Nintendo systems. Those crafty bastards.

Like Excitebike, Motocross Maniacs is a side-scrolling dirt bike racing game in which you race against the clock to finish the course. The controls are similar. A to go, B for a nitro boost, left and right tilts your bike on jumps. There is also a mode that adds in a computer controlled opponent. Unlike Excitebike’s drones, you are actually competing against him instead of dodging what are essentially moving obstacles.  The courses are actually pretty challenging, even early on. Not only do you have jumps and hills to contend with, but also loop-de-loops. This adds a really neat dynamic to the game. Some of these loop-de-loops require skillful timing to get on to. Your nitro boosts are limited (rather than Excitebike’s turbo button) and are often required to hit these loops. In fact, nitros are required to make pretty much any jump.

This jump is impossible to make without nitro.

This jump is impossible to make without nitro.

This issue left me frustrated as hell. The game’s 4th course (as pictured above) is all about jumps requiring nitro boosts. Problem is, if you run out, you get stuck. I often had to restart the game or wait for the timer to run out so I could try again. I was getting frustrated with the game until I realized something. There is a strategy at work here. Some jumps you have to use nitro on to complete… but you don’t have to complete all jumps. There are multiple paths through the course. The trick is finding a path that works best for your nitro conservation strategy. This added another cool layer to the game that I hadn’t noticed right away (courses 1-3 allow for liberal use of nitro boosts). Only problem is, as of writing this, I still haven’t found out that strategy and am stuck on course 4. I haven’t given up hope yet.

Verdict: HIGH FIVE

And it’s because I don’t want to give up that I’m scoring this game as a high-five. I’m actually compelled to try to figure out how to tackle this course. It’s frustrating in a good way. I love when a game can challenge me not because of frustrating level design or poor gameplay, but because I haven’t properly formulated a strategy to beat it.  I feel like I’ve definitely got my dollar’s worth out of this game.

Twitter and Facebook links on the left side!

Thanks for reading!