Posts Tagged ‘vidiots’

System: Super Nintendo

Release Date: January 1994

Rarity: 53%

Price/Location: $4.40/Vidiots

I’ve mentioned this in the blog before, and I’ve mentioned it numerous times to those I know personally, I like to play these games as sight unseen as possible. Every game I play for this blog is a new gaming experience for me. Which is why I feel I need to include a caveat before I really dive in here. Sometime in the past, I played the first level of this game on an emulator. Although I technically have played this game before, I didn’t think I got a good feel for the game. It’s a very short level. I felt actually buying the game and sitting down and playing it on a TV would give me a better impression of the game.

ZSNES, THE go-to emulator for broke high school gamers everywhere.

Skyblazer was published by Sony Imagesoft, which raised some red flags with me because as far as I could recall, Sony did not have a good track record in video gaming before hitting a home run with the Playstation. A quick look at the games published by Sony Imagesoft shows a lot of movie-based games like Hook, Hudson Hawk, Cliffhanger, Last Action Hero, and some one-off ESPN sports games.

Now, I’ve never actually seen Hudson Hawk, but I’m almost certain Bruce Willis didn’t fight a kangaroo.

I had to do just a bit of digging to find Skyblazer’s developer, as it’s not listed anywhere in the game, on the cartridge, or even on the Skyblazer Wikipedia page. The developer is Ukiyotei Company Ltd. If you have never heard of Ukiyotei, don’t worry, they weren’t around too long, but I was surprised to see that the company actually has a decent track record. Ukiyotei is responsible for the development of games like Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move for Neo-Geo and Neo-Geo Pocket, Metal Slug 1 & 2 for Neo-Geo Pocket, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn for Super Nintendo, and the Playstation version of King of Fighters ’97.

Heh, typical Ukiyotei. Not taking credit for anything.

Jumping into the game, we get some scrolling text on a red background and some Indian-influenced music (India Indian, not Native American) explaining the plot of the game. Raglan, the Lord of Darkness is taking over. You, playing Sky, must stop him. Basic stuff. Options menu? “F*** that,” says Ukiyotei! “Start” and “Pass Word” is all you’re getting!

“What could you possibly want to change?! This game is perfect!” ~Ukiyotei

Skyblazer is a side-scrolling platformer. The first level is the perfect introduction to the game. It’s not a very long level, but still manages to introduce some of the main functions you’ll be using throughout the game. Y to attack (repeatedly pressing Y will make Sky perform a punch-punch-kick combo), B to jump, X to use your powers. When you acquire more powers later, L and R scroll through them. Sky can also climb walls by jumping towards them. He’ll automatically attach himself to the wall, then Up and Down on the control pad will make him climb in that direction. After this first level a cutscene occurs with Ashura, a minion of Raglan’s. He destroys you in one shot and kidnaps a young sorceress.

At this point in the game, you’re just a wimpy whiner. Later in the game, you become a slightly more powerful whiner.

Sky awakens later in a temple with an old man and explains to you that you must get more powerful to defeat Ashura and Raglan and rescue the sorceress. This is where we find out just how unlikable Sky is. His cockyness isn’t endearing in any way. If I could make a comparision, I’d say he reminds me of Link from the Legend of Zelda cartoon, but at least Link’s bravado came off kind of dorky and endearing. Sky is just a dick.

“Well excuuuuse me, Prin-” YES! WE KNOW THE REFERENCE! JEEZ!

There are a few of these temples scattered about the map and you can return to one to get an updated password. The password system works on a 4×4 grid of varying symbols and blank spaces. Since I didn’t have a pen and paper handy and this is 2012 and not 1994, I used modern technology to record my passwords when I needed one. Yes, I used my smartphone camera. I’d say it worked out well.

For anyone who actually plays this game, this password gets you to the final level with… I think 15 lives. Hooray.

The levels are fairly short and vary in challenge. Some are really easy and some are very frustrating, but not to the point of impossibility. Some levels allow you to take advantage of a programming quirk where leaving and re-entering a room will cause any collected items to reappear. This is extremely useful on a level in the middle of the game where a 1up is placed right next to a door. Just pop in and out and rack up extra lives! Any frustration experienced in these levels are diminished by some of the EASIEST boss fights in video game history. Once you figure out a strategy, these boss fights are actually the easiest part of the game. When Sky defeats a boss he gains a new power. The old man from the temples (actually named “Old Man”) explains that you need to collect the 4 minor powers to gain the final power to take on Ashura and Raglan. That’s pretty much the extent of the game through all the levels up until the final one. Show up at a temple, Old Man says you’re not ready yet, continue. Some of these powers I found extremely helpful and some I didn’t really need. The Heal power is probably most useful. It nearly refills your health without making much of a dent in your magic meter. Easily the most overpowered magic in the game. The final power is a bit of a joke. It turns you into a Phoenix bird momentarily and will hit and enemy you merely run into. The only problem is it takes half your magic meter to use and is actually only useful in one specific moment in the fight with Ashura, which comes right before Raglan.

This is not that moment. Those guys can be killed with one punch. This is like lighting a candle with a nuclear bomb.

The final level doesn’t feel like a proper final level. It’s a short vertically auto-scrolling level, not looking a whole lot different that earlier levels. You’re then thrown into a boss rush series which, for some reason, doesn’t feature all the previous bosses. In between these bosses, you get enough gems (like Mario coins) to give you a 1-up and enough health and magic refills to make sure you start off fresh for each boss, making these boss fights EVEN EASIER THAN BEFORE! Not to mention, you also have all the magic you have acquired at your disposal. If this game was holding your hand during boss fights before, it’s just picking up the controller and playing for you now.

The food equivalent of this game.

Ashura is not a hard fight. The only bit of difficulty comes from the fact that he doesn’t move in a set pattern. As stated before, the Phoenix thing will knock his shield off and you can get a few hits in on him while in Phoenix form. After this battle, and a quick cutscene with the sorceress and old man, you are ready to face off with Raglan in the final battle. If the rest of the game is this:

Then the battle with Raglan does this to them:

I expended all of my remaining lives trying to fight this motherf***er. I knew his weak spot, but couldn’t formulate a strategy to avoid his attacks. If you get a game over at this point you continue from the beginning of the level. Meaning the boss rush, Ashura and everything. I never did defeat Raglan, but by this point, I had my mind made up about this game.

Verdict: BARGAIN BIN

I was tentative about giving this one the bargain bin treatment, because what this game does well, it does really well. Unfortunately there’s elements of this game that diminish what the smooth-as-butter controls do for the game. The game is extremely short and took maybe about 2-3 hours to complete. The story is not compelling at all. I felt the only reason I was continuing with the game is because it was so easy, not because I was interested in what happens next. Pretty much everything else about this game from the story, to the characters, to the power ups was unsatisfying. It’s not bad it’s just bland.

The drink equivalent of this game.

Thanks for blazing through Episode 13 like I blazed through Skyblazer! If you want to leave comments, praise, criticisms, or suggestions you can leave them here, or on The Official Five Dollar Gamer Facebook Page!

Thanks for reading!

System: Super Nintendo (also on: PC & Game Boy)

Release Date: April 11th, 1996

Rarity: 30%

Price/Location: $4.40/Vidiots

I first heard about this game a few months ago watching a JonTron video on YouTube. He was counting down his top 20 Super Nintendo games and Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow clocked in at #19. In watching this video and some of JonTron’s other videos, I came to the conclusion that we have quite a similar taste in games. So I took his word for it when saying Maui Mallard was a good game.

I’ve seen enough JonTron to know that he’s probably saying something along the lines of “Mario Party had some classic minigames in it that WERESOFUCKINGAWESOMEOHMAHGERDBLARGHRABLEGRABLJRENFJRNVRJH!”

So imagine my surprise when I stumble into Vidiots one day and find this game priced at under $5! Now I had to take a chance on this game! Not only because JonTron liked it, not only for the blog, not only because I feel incredibly awkward whenever walking out of Vidiots empty-handed, but because all of those things and I wanted to know once and for all: IS THAT F***ING DONALD DUCK OR WHAT!?

Ohh… I guess it is… … … F***.

OK, so in doing some research on this game, I discovered the European versions of the game come out and say Maui Mallard IS Donald Duck! Donald Duck IS Maui Mallard! Einhorn is Finkle! Finkle is EINHORN! OH MY GOD!

This movie IS bad! Bad IS this movie!

And now, with the Ace Ventura reference, we bring it full circle and mention that Donald Duck Maui Mallard is also a detective of some sort. He’s on some island and a golden idol statue has gone missing! Uh-oh, better call Donald Duck, Weekend Detective! We start the game in a mansion of some kind and I am immediately lost. What is the context of me being in this mansion? Was this missing idol here at one point? Why are weird zombie butlers throwing spiders at me? What are all these collectables doing scattered about? What are these spinning things throwing me up in the air like an amusement park ride? What the hell is going on?

Pictured: The Level 1 map of the Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow Strategy Guide.

All weirdness of the level aside, the controls are pretty slick. Maui Mallard can be controlled pretty easily. The platforming sections aren’t too frustrating and your weapon (some kind of gun that shoots like… bugs… or something, I dunno it’s a Disney game) fires at an acceptable rate. My only gripe is that of your 2 enemy types in this level, zombie butler and spiders, the spiders appear more frequently and require you to duck to shoot them. Yes, it’s a very minor gripe, but I was mildly perturbed by it. All things considered, Level 1 is pretty easy. Not so easy that I could breeze through it though. There were spots that took a few tries to get through. The level itself goes on for a little too long, but I never felt bored by the environment. It’s incredibly atmospheric. I could picture the mansion in my head in vivid detail as if I was actually traversing through it.

This guy can see how atmospheric the Earth is from his space mansion.

Level 2 brings us to an exterior location on the island. Again, the style here is amazing. The moodiness of the sky and weather coupled with the moss-covered rocks actually made me feel a little chilly. It was 90 degrees outside when I played this game! This was starting to become less of a game and more of an experience. I didn’t mind the lack of challenge up to this point. If the game could maintain what Level 1 brought to the table, then there is no doubt in my mind that this could go down as some kind of classic in my book.

If I actually DID have a book of classic games, this is the cover and the first four chapters.

Unfortunately, Level 2 completely snapped me out of the trance this game had over me. A shaman gives you some ninja powers. Awesome! This is what I had been waiting for! I am now COLD SHADOW! Donald Duck IS Maui Mallard IS Cold Shadow IS… now getting his ass kicked by the very first enemy he sees.

Let me get this straight. Donald Duck pretending to be Magnum P.I. with a bug-shooting gun that can kill other bugs in one hit is a tougher character than Donald Duck pretending to be Magnum P.I. who is GRANTED MAGICAL NINJA F***ING POWERS BY A WITCHDOCTOR?! Imagine, you’re watching Magnum P.I. and were familiar with it. Imagine there was an episode where Tom Selleck just got done taking down the bad guys and a guy thanked him by turning him into a ninja. You’d be like “FERK YEAH! TOM SELLERK AS A NINJER! SO FERKIN ERSOME!” But you’d be WRONG because when Tom Selleck goes out to take down some bad guys, he gets taken out by the first bystander he sees.

Foreground: Maui Mallard.
Midground: Everyone in Level 2.

I really didn’t want to give up on this game. It was SO GOOD up until this point. After a whole bunch of practice, I was actually able to formulate a strategy to getting through the enemies here. It wasn’t perfect but I was well on my way to continuing through the game. There are some neat abilities you gain by becoming a ninja, like using your staff to climb walls. I still had trouble combating enemies at this point, but now I felt like it wasn’t the game’s fault. It just felt like I was doing something wrong.

Verdict: HIGH FIVE

I really struggled when playing the game, but it was a good kind of struggle. Level 2 was a challenge, but never to the point where I was frustrated. Like I said, I never felt like anything was the game’s fault, just my sucky skills. When a game is challenging like this and doesn’t prompt me to throw my controller against the wall in a fit of rage, but rather, actually make me want to practice and get better, it’s definitely a keeper. This, combined with the beautiful environments and engaging atmosphere make this game a winner. JonTron was right to include this in his favorite SNES games.

That. THAT is the face of a man you can trust.

So the verbal blowjob of JonTron Episode 7 of Five Dollar Gamer is complete! If you want to leave comments, praise, criticisms, or suggestions you can leave them here, or on The Official Five Dollar Gamer Facebook Page!

Thanks for reading!