10-Yard Fight [NES]

Wikipedia claims that 10-Yard Fight was the first slightly realistic American football game ever released. Well, they got one word right. “Slightly”. That’s the key word. Because apart from the whole run-the-ball-over-the-line mechanism, there really isn’t any similarities to American football at all.

When you’re on the offence, there’s three choices. You can either run as the quarterback, pass the ball to one of two running backs, or pass it to the sole wide receiver. 90% of the time, a pass to the wide receiver will be intercepted, so that kind of knocks that option out. Conveniently for the defense, no matter whether you or the computer are in possession, the defence will always run a tiny bit faster than the offence – just enough to piss you off if you’ve just made a break.

Bottom left corner, facing left. There's the fucker.

Oh, and another thing. When you’re defending, before at least half of the plays, the wide receiver of the computer team runs from one side of his team to the other, in a process that takes about fifteen seconds each time and is accompanied by the sounds of baby elephants being tortured, which I think were supposed to be footfalls. Do they realise that this is played on a grass surface? Footsteps on a grass surface really aren’t loud enough to require any sort of sound effect, even if you could actually make it sound like footsteps instead of the poor, tortured cries of elephant calves.

I found this game way too easy. And the text that we get to see (not much of it) is hilarious. I played two games. At the beginning of each, I was instructed to “Select your opponent’s skill level!!”. All in caps, of course. For my first game, I chose the easiest difficulty, “High School Team”, as I know of games that are crippling and unforgiving (eg Contra). After winning, I was shown this delightful winning screen:

Your are on your way!!!!!!!

Classic Engrish, as was the norm for NES titles of the time. I was interested about what I would see if I beat the game on Super Bowl difficulty, so I gave it ago, and beat it with a lot more ease than I expected. And do you know what my reward was?

Exactly the same thing. Yep, Im am still on my way to the Super Bowl, even after defeating it.

Brain meltingly boring and dull, 10-Yard Fight is not a game worth playing. One of the most disappointing moments of my life – beating Super Bowl to get the same congratulations as beating High School. Fuck you, Irem.

3D Block [NES]

What the naked silhouette is doing on the title screen, I have absolutely no idea. There’s no girls, tits, or stilettos in 3D Block. No, the “Block” you’re going to encounter is not a 3D penis. All this game is is 3D Tetris – and not the cool, Avatar-style 3D either. I mean three dimensions – instead of just horizontal and vertical, as is in normal Tetris, you have a top-down perspective over a square where the blocks land.

For the first few minutes, this game made absolutely no sense to me. The graphics aren’t good enough to see which direction your active piece is pointing, so most of the time it’s just guesswork and “holy shit I hope it’s pointed the right way.” There’s a lot of button mashing in desperation to get the piece in the right place. Also, I got up to Level 8 before getting bored and pissed off, and I swear that level 2 was the hardest – the pieces were moving so much faster.

Hmm, yes, I understand exactly what is going on here

For some reason, level 3 was skipped completely. I just completed level 2 when I was greeted by a big “04”, leaving me with a raised eyebrow. And why do all NES games have such ugly colours? What’s up with the mustard yellow backdrop? Can’t they use a nicer colour?

But why put a naked woman on the title screen? On the box art, fair enough – entice young, horny males to buy your game with the promise of pixelated tits. Great marketing scheme. But the title screen? If you can see it, it means you’ve already bought the game. So why is it necessary to continue lying, even though the sale is already made? At least there’s four blocks on the title screen too, to give you a little hint to what you’re about to play.

I couldn’t work out what that window on the bottom right of the screen was trying to tell me. Yes, I know I’ve fucked up and I’m right at the top of the pile, you really don’t have to remind me. I mean, I suppose it was trying to do something helpful, but I had no idea what it was.

The obscure NES title 3D Block was boring and repetitive. It would have been fun for ten minutes or so, but I played it for a lot longer than that and so now I’m very, very sick of it. I only played it because I recently downloaded every single NES ROM, and it was number 2. I don’t see myself returning to it very soon.

3-D Battles Of WorldRunner, the [NES]

Embark upon an enthralling journey! Play as the space-cowboy WorldRunner, or, as he is known in Japan, “Jack”, and defend Solar System #517 from the evil alien race, the Serpentbeasts, who are ruled by Grax. As is the case in 99% of all NES games, this story is in no way mentioned in the game itself, but is detailed in the manual.

Apart from having a story that sounds like a Scientologist holy text, along with a fairly generic title, there really isn’t much to fault about this game. So don’t go expecting a hilarious review shredding the game to bits, because it’s not going to happen. Sure, it wouldn’t be brilliant if it were released today, but for 1987, I can imagine it having some pretty new and fun features.

As a gamer, I was drawn in the moment the title screen said it was developed by Square. I mean, fucking Square. The three blokes who did this also created fucking Final-fucking-Fantasy. It has to be awesome. Plus, while the music is repetitive and annoying, I thought it was really good, especially for a NES game. This was explained when a little bit of research exposed that is was composed by the one and only Nobuo Uematsu, the brains behind most of the Final Fantasy music.

Hey, what's that rapidly approaching black bar doing?

The whole game is repetitive. World One is you, Jack, running forwards constantly, dodging obstacles and jumping over chasms in the path, which are just big black rectangles that look nothing like an actual gap in the road. World Two is pretty much the same, with different looking enemies that don’t change in function very much and a space background. At the end of each world, you fight a big snake like thingy like the boss in Arkanoid, or a flying one of those cacti with faces in Mario. There are also a few very Boo-like jumping ball things. And you collect stars, for some reason. Not sure how that ties in with the plot, but whatever.

3-D Worldrunner sees you tie together ridiculously long strings of jumps off springs floating in chasms, avoid columns because you think they’re bad for you and then find out they’re good for you by reading the game’s Wikipedia article, and more. Plus, it has an awesome 3-D mode that you can activate by pressing Select. Pity it’s now pretty much useless because it’s near impossible to get a pair of glasses that were packaged with the game, and other 3-D glasses aren’t the right colours/whatever for it to work (I tried), because this game would be fucking awesome in 3-D.

But look, the game is clever and fun. I got a lot more entertainment out of it than I thought I would when I loaded it up. Oh, and Jack is such a bad-ass mother fucker that he runs and jumps around in space without even caring about stupid, unnecessary stuff like spacesuits.

That is hardcore

Krusty’s Fun House [NES]

Title Screen

Krusty’s Fun House. How can it go wrong? It has all the Simpsons characters in it, it can’t be that bad, right? Right? Surely it’d be a little bit funny, at least? Wrong. Clichéd jokes aside, all Krusty’s Fun House really did was waste the hour of my life that I spent playing it.

See the "pie"? (click to enlarge)

See, you play as Krusty, whose clothes are pretty much the same colour as the background, and what you do is you find these little blocks that are pretty much the same colour as the background, and then press down while standing on them to pick them up. You then place the blocks around the place to herd rats into the exterminating machine, which is controlled by Bart in the only stage that I could bear to play. Apparently the little things that Krusty throws are pies, but they look like round yellow balls. See the picture to the right? Yeah, that’s a “pie”. And you can kick some of the blocks with the B-button, but seeing as you can’t kick anything else (Krusty doesn’t even do a kicking motion when you press B), it’s impossible to work that out for yourself.

I don’t know what the story is, apparently he’s trying to get the rats out of his “lovely fun house” and needs help from “kids”. Hey, Krusty, if the rats “aren’t too bright”, then why do you need my help? Surely you can manage it by yourself? He does seem to be very, very keen on the kids. Within a minute of starting the game, he greets the “kids” three times in consecutive frames, including one way-too-enthusiastic “hiiiiiii kids!”.

Hiiiiiiii Kids!

As I said, you pick up blocks that you find around each level by jumping on them and pressing down. You then place them in wherever you think is necessary to solve the level by pressing down again, and they’ll appear underneath you. To solve a lot of the puzzles, however, what seems like a glitch is actually required, where you stand on the edge of a platform/whatever and press down, and the block spawns not underneath you, but next to you. Like this:

What the fuck?

How are the kids supposed to work this out? I did it completely by accident, then thought “how the hell did I do that?”, and spent the next five minutes trying to replicate it. Also in this game are snakes that shoot laser beams and items dubbed “super balls” – big purple balls that you throw to kill the laser snakes and destroy some blocks. And that’s about it. Oh, and a few palm trees, and platforms that go up and down and up and down.

Ahhhh, shit.

I knuckled through the horrible, frustrating music and Krusty’s cheesy grin for a good hour, until I got to the sixth level. It was at that point that I had one life left (after only just realizing that returning to the level select screen cost a life). The sixth level is time-based. If you don’t sprint down to the exterminator and place a block down, you’re fucked, because the rats all fall in a hole and don’t come out. Needless to say, I was fucked, as I couldn’t restart the level, because it would cause a game-over, which pretty much restarts the console. I couldn’t be bothered enduring the other 5 levels again just to keep playing something that was truly causing me pain, so I gave up.

I don’t even know what the points were doing there. In other games, points usually do something, and you get bonuses for the speed with which you complete a level, the number of lives you have to spare, etc. In this game, they mean fuck all, and if anyone, ever, had the balls to play so long that they got a six-digit score, then congratulations to them, but, dear God, I hope no one has ever been that stupid.

Krusty’s Fun House is not entertainment. Reading mildly funny satirical reviews of it may be, but, by itself, it’s shit. I can imagine this game being created as something else for the mindless children of America, until a market rep thought “Hey! Kids like the Simpsons! Let’s make it Simpson-related!”, and Krusty’s Fun House was born. And please, please listen to me – don’t you ever play it. Ever.