Posts Tagged ‘five’

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)

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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.

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System: NES

Release Date: November 1988

Rarity: 20%

Price/Location: $3.99/Gaming Warehouse (Grandville)

July 11th, 2012

Dear Journal,

Today I went in to the local game shop to purchase some games for my new blog. I picked out a lot of neat games, seven to be exact, but one game really caught my eye. It’s called Super Team Games! It looks like a really fun game! I’ve never seen any other Power Pad game aside from World Class Track Meet, let alone played one. I think a game as unique as this one will make a fun addition to my fledgling blog. But for right now, I’m going to play another fun-looking game I picked up called Dewy’s Adventure!

July 22nd, 2012

Dear Journal,

Well, Dewy’s Adventure was a bust. But what else can you expect from a Wii game that cost $3? I really want to play Super Team Games, but I finally managed to track down an old Nintendo game I’ve been looking a long time for, The Guardian Legend! I want to space out the different systems I play games for a bit, so Super Team Games is going on the back burner for the moment. I hope The Guardian Legend turns out alright, considering how hard it was to find.

August 2nd, 2012

Dear Journal,

The Guardian Legend turned out really fun! It was well worth the trouble of tracking it down! Something odd happened though when I went to put it away. I went to set it on my NES shelf and Super Team Games was sitting in the spot where Guardian Legend was sitting previously! It freaked me out for a second, but I realized I had been really sleepy when I cleaned up my game room. Still, why would I put Super Team Games on the shelf, but leave the other games in the bag? Chalk it up to a lack of sleep, I guess!

August 14th, 2012

Dear Journal,

So I think someone is messing with me. I came down to my game room to work on my Game Boy games article, when I noticed something strange. Super Team Games was sitting on my chair! My girlfriend’s father is always pulling jokes on me, so I just chalked it up to him playing a prank. Strange thing is though; I never mentioned anything about the game to him before. Maybe it was a coincidence.

September 2nd, 2012

Dear Journal,

Ugh, gotta love summer storms right? Unfortunately the power went out and the circuit breaker is in the basement. I’ve been avoiding the basement since last week since I found Super Team Games sitting in my NES! I knew this was no prank that someone was playing! I was the only one home and I had JUST got done playing Bad Dudes! I walked upstairs to grab a Diet Pepsi and came back down and there it was! Then today, when the power went out, I mustered up the courage to go down there… and the red NES light was on and blinking. How?! The power was out!

September 10th, 2012

Dear Journal,

I took my NES to get repaired. I don’t know if it had anything to do with my NES being on while the power was off, but better safe than sorry. I came home to find my Power Pad sitting on the couch! I could have sworn I left it at my dad’s house up north! I need to take a break from playing games in my game room. I’m gonna start a new segment on the blog where I play a hacked ROM version of Super Tecmo Bowl. That will suffice for now.

September 15th, 2012

Dearest Journal,

I’ve been having some strange dreams lately. The children on the box art of Super Team Games came to life. They started throwing logs at me. Each night the logs get closer and closer. I’m afraid to sleep tonight.

September 18th, 2012

Oh God, Journal,

I had been up for 3 straight nights. I must’ve nodded off because I had another nightmare. This time the Super Team Games children had me hooked up to all these wires in some kind of laboratory. The room was a bright white. They were forcing me to play some kind of nightmarish version of their game. I was being forced to use the Power Pad to make someone who looked just like me run down a track made of souls and leap over hurdles made of bloody bones. If that wasn’t freaky enough, when I woke up I was wrapped not in my blanket, but the Power Pad.

September 30th, 2012

Dear Journal,

Things have been going great! The dreams have stopped, the freaky occurrences have gone away, and I’m a lot happier! I’ve gotten back to writing for my blog! I had a little assist from my girlfriend on this one, but it was the first time I went into the basement in almost a month! Baby steps, you know! Hahaha! Of course you don’t! You’re a non-sentient book of paper! Oh, it’s 5:30! Time for my meds!

October 7th, 2012

Greetings and Salutations, Non-Sentient Book of Ground-up Wood Pulp!

Didja know what’s fun? Playing airplanes in the middle of the road! But those stupid big loud metal things that roll down them don’t like it when you do. One shouted “Put some pants on freak!” So I went onto the roof instead! Strange as it may sound to you, NSBGUWP, I can’t fly! Super Team Games said I could! Especially if I used the Power Pad as a cape! Then it suggested my REAL superpower was SUPER LUNG STRENGTH!So it told me to fill the tub up and test it out. Super Team Games said I should bring the toaster with me, just in case I get hungry.

October 8th, 2012

Enough of this. I need to PLAY this game if I am going to get over it. I got everything hooked up and ready to go. I turned it on. Don’t let the cutesy graphics fool you, this game is a monster! I selected “Super Obstacle Course” because if I’m going to conquer this game, I’m going all the way. Our first event is “Log Hop” I start running as fast as I can. I leap over the logs with gusto, nothing standing in my way. I am going at what I think is a torrid pace… until I see my opponent has an enormous lead on me. It’s discouraging, but I press on, hoping to gain ground later. This event smoothly transitions into the Belly Bump Ball. At the speed I’m going I send the ball flying! This may not be so bad! I can finally catch up! But I slip! I lose momentum! The ball is barely moving now! I’m fading! My legs are weak! I’m out of breath! Drenched in sweat! Done. The game has beaten me. Journal, Super Team Games is a force to be reckoned with. No game, retro or modern, has given me the workout this one did. You have to be in tip-top shape to succeed. It was a wake-up call. In a sense, I respect this game.

Final Verdict: HIGH FIVE

In all seriousness, this game kicked my ass, but it is quite the workout. Everything about this game is technically functional, but you have to be in shape to play it for an extended amount of time. This isn’t like World Class Track Meet where the events were short and sweet. The sprints on this last quite a bit. That first “Log Hop” event was 2 straight minutes of full-blast sprinting speed. If you want a good workout, forget DDR, forget Wii Fit, and forget P90X. Get yourself an NES, a Power Pad, and a game that defines evil workout, Super Team Games.

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System: Game Boy

Release Date: June 1991

Rarity: 19%

Price/Location: $1.99/GameStop

The funny thing about this game and its predecessor, R.C. Pro-Am for the NES is that the graphics are so primitive, at least when compared to today’s awesome graphics, that one can hardly tell that you are actually racing R.C. cars and not actual cars. I spent years playing R.C. Pro-Am as a kid without putting 2 and 2 together and realizing “Oh, they’re tiny cars and R.C. stands for ‘radio controlled’ and OMG I WANT ONE OF THESE FOR CHRISTMAS!” They just looked like regular ol’ cars to me. Thanks NES.

Pictured: Awesome graphics.

The same problem exists in the game featured in today’s episode, Super R.C. Pro-Am. This was developed by a company called Rare, best known for their critically-acclaimed smash hits Kinect Sports and Grabbed By the Ghoulies. They also did some little-known series of games called Donkey Kong Country and Banj0-Kazooie.

As if saying “From the creators of…” was ever a guarantee of a good time.

So, jumping into the game, you get the title screen, hit start and BOOM! Right into the first race. No options menu, no additional game modes, no pre-race preparations. Rare treats the start button as the ready to race button. The first thing I noticed was the sound. Just like the NES original, there is no music during the race. Pre-race and post-race there is some music, but during the actual gameplay itself, you merely have sound effects. These sound effects are brought over from the NES version but with slight “improvements.” I use that term lightly and put it in quotes solely because of the sound of the tires screeching when you round corners. This is the sound you will hear most of the time and the sound that drove me to turn the volume off after a few races. It’s as if someone is stepping on a cat every time you turn.

The arrows indicate “Bleeding Eardrums Ahead.”

Aside from the sound, the actual gameplay is quite good. The controls are simple, B to go, A to fire weapon. Weapons include rockets to shoot ahead of you or mines to fire behind you. You can only switch weapons by picking up that weapon on the track. Each weapon pickup gives you 5 ammo and stars scattered about the track add 1 to your surplus. There are also tire, battery, and engine upgrades for your car that you can pick up which you WILL NEED in order to succeed in later levels. Same goes for the letter pickups. These letters spell “NINTENDO.” Spell “NINTENDO” and you will be granted a whole new model of car.

Fun Fact: “Spell ‘Nintendo’ and Win A New Car” was a game edited out of a 1993 episode of The Price is Right.

That’s pretty much all there is to the game. Race, shoot, step on cats turn your way to victory. Upgrade your car, rinse, and repeat. Just like nearly every game in the 80s and 90s there is a score and a high score list. The score just seems to serve a purpose of progression in the game, since there is no save or password option.

Actual shot taken from my game. I was 30 points away from the top score after my first game over! 30!

Verdict: BARGAIN BIN

I was a little tentative on giving this game the bargain bin treatment. I feel that the fun factor of a game is very important and this game was actually fun to play. However, I saw everything this game had to offer within the first 10 minutes. There are things that get thrown at you hazard-wise on the tracks in later levels, but these start to pop up fairly early. In addition, this game is virtually identical to the NES version aside from a few cosmetic upgrades. After playing the game for a while, I don’t feel compelled to pick up and play it again. This series would be a perfect candidate for a modern-day remake and I think it would be fantastic. Until then, this game, sadly, must stay in the bargain bin.

So that’s it for Episode 2 of Five Dollar Gamer! If you want to leave comments, praise, criticisms, or suggestions you can leave them here, or on The Official Five Dollar Gamer Facebook Page!

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