Archive for July, 2007

Boulders and Bombs

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Boulders and Bombs was in the box when we picked up our Atari 400 from a yard sale, and was easily the most complex game that I ever had for the system.

Since we got the game used, I don’t really know what the back story was, but the game itself went something like this:

The top half of the screen was the sky and the ‘above ground. You didn’t actually do anything up here, but it’s where your antagonists did their thing. Antagonists in this case meaning giant bird-things. We’ll get into what they do in a minute.

The bottom half of the screen is the underground. Underground that’s filled with boulders. You initially control a giant digging apparatus that you use to dig from one side of the screen to the other. After making a tunnel, you press the button and are in control of a little man. You need to make this man run across the screen to the exit tunnel. The little guy has the ability to lay bombs to get out of sticky situations. And so the title of the game is fully represented.

The bird-things (remember those?) will try to impede your progress by drilling holes into the ground and filling up your tunnels with this… stuff that fills up your tunnels and bars the way. You have to then clear the schmutz so your guy can move through. Carefully, lest you smash him over the head with your digging tool (it kills him, incidentally).

You can play up to 4 players with this game (way back in the early 80s!). Players 2, 3, and 4 control the baby giant bird-things and try to stop your progress, while player 1 tries to outwit them.

Overall, it was quite the fun game. I’m actually kind of surprised it’s not more well-known.

Wrecking Crew

Monday, July 30th, 2007

If you want to talk about one of the most obscure games in the Mario universe, you’d be hard pressed to find a game weirder than Wrecking Crew.

Mario, it has been established, is a plumber, but he has a plethora of talents. He’s a true renaissance man. Among other things, he’s a referee, a tennis player, golfer, scientist, go kart driver, and in this game, a demolitions expert.

Mario dons a hard hat and wields a sledge hammer and must (gasp!) destroy things. He’s got to use his brain to smash the things in a precise order so that he can destroy everything on the screen. It’s an odd thing to mention, I know, but you do have smash the occasional ladder. Smash the wrong ladder at the wrong time and you don’t get to climb it, so you lose.

Of course there’s a foreman running around, inexplicably trying to stop you. And don’t be surprised to find some eggplant-men running around. How’s that for a construction site?


Sunday, July 29th, 2007

I’ve said it a few times, but it bears repeating: games from the ’80s were weird. Pengo is no exception. Pengo the penguin inexplicably walks around mazes formed from blocks of ice. Enemies will pop out of some of these blocks and can crush the ice blocks in an effort to walk into Pengo, killing him (or her? I don’t really know). Pengo isn’t going to just stand there and take their abuse! He (or she?) can shove the ice blocks in a straight line and they’ll sail along until they hit another block or the side wall. If there are any enemies in the way then they get squished. Squish them all and you win the level, win the level and you get to go on to the next, win enough levels and you get a cute cutscene.

Pengo is elegant in its simplicity. Well, maybe not so much ‘elegant’, but it is ’simple’. A simple game that’s fun enough I don’t feel cheated spending a quarter on it now and again.

Pengo at the KLOV.

Chip’s Challenge

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

For every Jezzball there was in the Microsoft Entertainment Pack, there was a Chip’s Challenge. A game that, kind of like Skifree, I really didn’t care for, but seemed to have quite the following.

Chip’s is a puzzle game that takes place on a grid (puzzles and grids seem to go together). You, as Chip, run around the level collecting computer chips, avoiding hazards, and using your noggin to solve puzzles, all with the ultimate goal of collecting enough computer chips to open the door to the next level and to get Chip in the door, all without dieing. Chip is very fragile, most likely because he’s a pasty computer nerd (who else would run around giant technological things?). One hit from anything even remotely hazardous and Chip will deadpan, “Bummer”, and you get to start the level over.

The version for Windows apparently had somewhere in the neighborhood of 149 levels, with a handy password feature. Each level had its own password, so you could keep your progress, or go back to play a previous level if you were so inclined.

I did not get through all 149 levels, I barely got through 10 levels. While hearing Chip say “Bummer” when he bought the farm was pretty funny, I just didn’t have the patience to play much more than that. The stages were so large that they didn’t fit neatly into the window, so you had to scroll around and explore a level, figuring out what to do. The problem I had was that you couldn’t really solve most of the levels as you were exploring them. They required careful exploration, planning, and repetition to get the precise sequence of moves needed to complete.

If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, check this page out.


Friday, July 27th, 2007

Jezzball is probably my favorite game from the venerable Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows 3.x. It’s kind of like Qix in that there is a playfield and you must claim a certain percentage of the field before you can move on to the next level. On each stage there is an ever-increasing number of atoms which bounce around ominously. You are armed with the ability to create two barriers that will originate at your cursor and slowly move toward the walls, one in each direction either left and right or up and down. If they hit a wall, they will create a barrier. If they hit an atom, they will disappear and cost you a life. You claim a section by completely walling it off from the atoms. You have to claim at least 75% of the board to win and advance to the next level where you’ll gain another life and another atom. The tricky part is that though the number of atoms increases every level, the field size does not, so you must build progressively smaller ‘rooms’ to house them, and with ever-increasing numbers of atoms this becomes maddeningly difficult.

I know that if you’ve read through all of that, you’re scratching your head and wondering what the heck I’m talking about. Go here.

Hogan’s Alley

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

I do not know who Hogan is, but his alley is infested with cardboard cutouts of gangs and good guys. Good thing I have a Zapper.

Hogan’s Alley is the first light gun game that I played in the arcades. Though to clarify, I didn’t play it, my mom did. But I saw it in action, and that’s what counts!

The home version is slightly more limited, but the basics are the same, the main mode, the bread and butter of the game, is to travel down an alley. Popping out from behind walls, in windows, around fences, and the like are cardboard cutouts of a woman, a professor, a police officer, or one of three gang members (creatively named Gang A, Gang B, and Gang C). Of course, your goal is to shoot the bad guys while not shooting the good guys. Shoot a good guy or take too long to shoot a bad guy and you get a miss. Get too many misses and it’s game over.

Alternatively, you could play the shooting range mode where you are presented with 3 cutouts and must shoot the bad guys instead of the good guys. It’s pretty much the same as the other mode except that the background doesn’t change.

The third mode is a little bit different. You have a series of platforms on your left. From the right paint cans flip onto the screen. You can shoot the cans to bounce them a bit. Your goal is to bounce them over to the platforms and make them land on them for points. If any cans fall off the bottom of the screen, you miss. Miss enough and it’s game over.

I did quite enjoy this game, and am slightly puzzled why there hasn’t been a proper sequel made.

Balloon Fight

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Like a lot of Nintendo’s earlier offerings, Balloon Fight stands out as being endearingly bizarre. You control a guy with balloons strapped to his back who can flap his arms to maneuver around a stage. His goal is to pop the balloons of the other guys with balloons on their backs and knock them into the water or run up and kick them when they’re down (and before they can reinflate their balloons) should they land on a platform.

You also have watch out for other dangers like the fish that will jump out of the water and eat you if you get too close, the sparks that will electrocute you, and the flippers that will send you sailing in a direction you most likely did not want to go.

The game doesn’t have an end, you just pop balloons and chuck the other weird guys into the water below until you get tired of it, give up, run out of lives, or all three. I can usually last for about 2 or 3 levels before I get tired of it, run out of lives, and give up. Usually all at the same time.


Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Minesweeper, or some variation thereof has been readily available on just about every computer I’ve ever used for a number of years. It’s a deceptively complex game hidden behind a fairly simple to grasp concept: using your wits to locate and mark mines.

You’re presented with a grid, and on that grid a number of mines has been placed. You can click on any space on the grid to see if it had a mine under it. If it does not it will either vanish or show a number. The number represents how many squares are adjacent to it that contain a mine. If you right-click on the space, you mark it with a flag, which means that you think there is a mine there. Your goal, then, is to use your wits to reason which spaces have the mines, mark them all and win the game.

The game is also pretty unforgiving, if you click on one space that has a mine, you = dead and your game = over. So it’s in your best interest to methodically poke around the grid and carefully consider each move. Or do what I do, make the grid as large as possible and the number of mines as small as possible. Then there’s a very good chance that you’ll solve the puzzle with a single click… Unless you happen on a mine on your first click.

Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

For a time, every Disney show on in the afternoons after school had a game based on it and published by Capcom. This is not in itself particularly unusual, what was unusual was that these games were pretty good, though slightly on the easy side.

Chip ‘n’ Dale has you taking the titular heroes on a romp through some varied stages. Sometimes running to the right, sometimes climbing up, but always inexorably toward the boss character at the end. The story? What story? You had to go through various locations that would be easily recognizable to all but the most casual viewer of the show, fighting stage bosses that were lifted directly from the series, and culminating with the criminal fat cat himself… erm, Fat Cat.

You picked your favorite chipmunk and ran through the stages, generally avoiding baddies and/or throwing things at them. The rest of the characters make small cameos, and all come together at the end for one of those ‘everyone look into the camera and chuckle knowingly’ moments. Because, though you smacked Fat Cat around with a super ball a few times, he’s probably not giving up his evil ways.

Bad Boys: Miami Takedown

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

This review originally appeared on this site in April of 2005 and was one of the first reviews on this site. The game wasn’t that good.

Sometimes you’ll walk into a store and get an ominous feeling. Like there’s a game so bad that its aura permeates the air in the building. Carving a pathway through the miasma reveals a rack surrounded by signs that you should not seek to acquire anything on it.

But I did anyway.

Bad Boys: Miami Takedown is supposedly based on a couple of movies you perhaps have seen. Seeing the movies is certainly not a prerequisite for extracting the maximum amount of fun out of this game.

The game starts out like a generic cop-action movie: you’re treated to a cutscene of some “bad guys” making allusions to some vague crime. I was unable to play the game long enough to actually figure out who the Generic Criminals were or what exactly they had to do with anything.

It was about at this point that I was introduced to the… um… revolutionary control scheme. If you’ve ever held a Gamecube controller, try to follow along:

1. The control stick is used to move forward/back and to strafe left and right.

2. The C-Stick is used to aim your weapon, and by extension turn your character to the left and right.

3. You press the B button to hide behind something. The game is centered around this. Once you are behind something, you use the left stick to peek out and the right stick to aim.

4. The A button is your All Purpose Action Button(TM). This is the button you will be hitting the most to do just about everything, EXCEPT fire your weapon.

5. You fire by pressing the R button.

6. The other buttons aren’t all that important.

In the portion of the game that I could stomach to play, it was a nearly unending sequence of: duck behind something and kill everyone in the area, run ahead a few steps, repeat”. Now to fully understand the genius of the controls, picture yourself in the following: You are ducking behind, let’s say, a lawn mower and you want to kill the 10 identical twins that are shooting at you. You have to press and hold Up on the left stick, aim with the C-Stick, and press R to infuse the criminals with Hot Leaded Justice(TM).

This game also allegedly has objectives to complete, but gives you no real feedback if you’ve managed to satisfy the requirements or not. The only cue I was able to find was that when you’ve successfully killed enough people, the music will stop and you have to leave the area to trigger the next cut scene.

Oh, and let’s not forget about the audio. Throughout your adventures the main characters will say things to each other that are probably supposed to be funny. There’s only two minor problems: one is that they are the polar opposite of funny, and the other is that they are triggered all the time. Phrases like: “I didn’t give you permission to shoot me!” and “Shoulda stayed in school… PUNK!”

There really isn’t much good about this game. The theme song on the opening screen sounded OK, I guess.

Realistically, this is not a game you should endeavor to purchase. Even the $9.99 price tag isn’t nearly enough to justify the putting of this abomination in your Gamecube.

Game Name: Bad Boys: Miami Takedown
Platform: Game Cube
Purchased from: Target
Amount of money I wasted on it: $9.99
One word summary: Abominable