Like I did last year, I decided to write a short review of every game I beat in 2016. Since I beat 59, I decided to split the list in two. Here’s the first part.
#59 – Red Dead Redemption (PS3)
This is one of the top 5 most boring games I’ve ever bothered to finish. It is Grand Theft Auto without any of the things that make GTA fun. Riding your horse around is boring. Fuck horses. The missions are boring. Fuck the West. The scenery, though pretty at first, is devoid of anything interesting. Fuck scenery. I can’t believe they’re making a sequel to this shit. This is, by far, the worst game I beat in 2016.
#58 – Pin Bot (NES)
I don’t like pinball games on a good day, so a mediocre pinball game was never going to win me over. Sure, some people call it the best pinball game on the NES, but, to me, that’s like saying a particular form of cancer is “the best cancer to have.” I’d rather not play Pin Bot in the same way that’s rather not have cancer. Anyway, Pinball Quest was better.
#57 – Psycho Fox (Master System)
I’m not sure I’ve played another platformer that controls as poorly as this one. The acceleration and momentum carried by the character is unlike anything I’ve ever played before. You move like you’re standing waist deep in molasses when you start to move, but once you get going, you adjust your speed and come to a stop with all of the grace of a cannonball. Birdfly, the name of your bird friend/weapon that you throw around is just awful. The levels looked like I had designed them all during a single, particularly difficult, and uncomfortable 15 minute shit. It might pass as a decent platformer for the Master System, but overall, it’s just a bad game.
#56 – Action Fighter (Master System)
This is basically Spy Hunter, but for the Master System, and I never liked Spy Hunter. Whether you’re controlling the motorbike, the car, or the plane (your vehicle transforms, but it’s more disappointing than exciting), you’re playing a shitty game.
#55 – Earnest Evans (Genesis)
This is the first game in a trilogy that includes El Viento and Anett Futatabi. I only played it because I played El Viento and loved it (which you’ll hear about in the second part of my list). The fundamental problem with the game, besides the fact that the main character moves like he’s a crash test dummy hooked up to marionette strings controlled by someone having a violent seizure, is that your main weapon, a whip, exclusively moves like it does in Castlevania IV when you hold the button down to use your whip and are then able to kind of flail it around you. The music is great. The graphics are great. The controls just ruin it.
#54 – Bomberman (NES)
This game is super boring. I’m surprised people liked this enough for sequels to get made. I mean, I’m happy there were sequels, but I’m surprised nonetheless based on how unremarkable this game is.
#53 – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Master System)
I owned the Genesis version of this as a kid. It is slightly better than the Master System version, but still kinda bad, so the Master System version is pretty bad. At best, it is a two-star platformer.
#52 – Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (Genesis)
The only thing this game has that should make anyone want to play it is how completely ridiculous it is. You save kids. You fight dogs, dudes in suits, and zombies. There are prostitutes. You can moonwalk. You attack by kicking sparkles at people. You can turn into a robot. You do all of this while playing as Michael Jackson. These are all excellent reasons for giving this game a shot. Silly premise aside, it’s not a very good game.
#51 – Granada (Genesis)
Based on the title, I expected to control a little army dude fighting in a jungle, but that would be “Grenada,” not “Granada.” Instead, you drive a little tank around in some futuristic world. You shoot stuff and stuff blows up. It’s actually not bad, but it’s not great. It was a perfectly functional game, but a little forgettable. I’d recommend it to someone who’s very familiar with the Genesis library if they were looking for a game they’d never played.
#50 – Quest for the Shaven Yak Starring Ren Hoëk and Stimpy (Game Gear)
I loved Ren and Stimpy and grew up with the show. Though it honestly isn’t very good, I enjoyed playing the Genesis game. It’s probably the same thing with this one. I didn’t enjoy it. It was pretty bad, but still good enough for me to know that if I’d grown up with it, I’d probably remember it fondly.
#49 – Bio-Hazard Battle (Genesis)
This game is a shmup, and I really don’t like shmups. As a shmup though, it isn’t so bad. I’ve played worse. It still does a lot of the shmup things I don’t like, like auto-scrolling at different speeds for no reason other than to make navigating through narrow tunnels more difficult. I mean, there’s nothing behind me chasing me, so why couldn’t I just take that section more slowly? Shmups.
#48 – Bubble Bobble (Master System)
I don’t really get Bubble Bobble. I played it on the NES a couple times and thought it was awfully boring. The Master System version left me feeling exactly the same way. Why do people like this? It was called Final Bubble Bobble in Japan, and shortened to Bubble Bobble in Europe. The SMS version wasn’t released in North America.
#47 – Disney’s Aladdin (Genesis)
I don’t get the fuss over this game. It’s often listed among the best games for the Genesis. I found it mediocre, at best. I hated the way Aladdin jumped. The levels were mostly annoying, as were the enemies. The game is pretty and both Aladdin and the enemies were very well animated. But aesthetically pleasing as it was visually, it was just no fun to actually play. It isn’t terrible and I can even see when some people would like it, but you won’t convince me it’s a great game. The flying carpet level is shit.
#46 – Crystal’s Pony Tale (Genesis)
I wrote a full review of this game earlier this year. It was for International Review Crystal’s Pony Tale Day. You can read it here.
#45 – Streets of Rage (Genesis)
Also known as Streets of Boredom. I hate beat ’em ups. This one isn’t the worst, but it’s still a fucking chore to play.
#44 – Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Genesis)
I’d always heard that people loved this game as kids, and now I know why: the game is literally for kids. This isn’t a criticism though. Yes, the game is very easy, but it’s still a solid game. There’s nothing broken in the game. It isn’t painfully easy. This isn’t some half-assed “game for kids” like we’ve all played at some point that is so easy it insults the player. Castle of Illusion is just an easy platformer that manages to remain fun. An excellent game for introducing someone who’s never played videos games to platformers, for kids, or for someone just looking for a fun and completely unfrustrating retro gaming experience.
#43 – New Super Mario Bros (DS)
I remember nothing about this game that wasn’t done better in NSMB Wii. The entire time I was playing, I wished I was playing something else. It’s a good game. I’d probably have enjoyed it more if I’d played it before NSMB Wii.
#42 – Elemental Master (Genesis)
Probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing a shmup. It isn’t the most impressive shmup in terms of visuals, sound, and gameplay. It’s just fun.
#41 – Wonder Boy (Master System)
I love Wonder Boy. I might’ve even played this before Super Mario Bros. Still, it isn’t better than SMB. As most people know, the game is brutally difficult, but the characters are bright and cute, the music is catchy, and you can ride a skateboard. I consider it a classic and think everyone should play it, but I won’t go as far as saying everyone should play it til the end. I’m glad I did, but I’m a masochist, not a sadist. And for those of you who tried this game and never bothered trying any of the sequels, they honestly get exponentially better, so I recommend those as well.
#40 – Mega Man (Game Gear)
It’s a Mega Man game, I guess. It looks just like the NES games…maybe too much. It’s essentially made up of parts of Mega Man 4 and 5 that you vaguely remember, but not too many parts. Just enough to make the game barely longer than a demo. Despite that, it’s as fun as Mega Man 5 or 6, so if you’re looking for some more 2D Mega Man and you’ve already played 1 through 10, as well as the X and Zero games, you could always play this one. It might take the some of the sting of Mighty No. 9 away.
#39 – Tecmo Super Bowl (NES)
I’m not a football fan, but this game wasn’t bad. I wrote a full review you can read here.
#38 – Code Name: Viper (NES)
At first glance, this game might look like “Boring Contra,” but it’s really more like “Shinobi Without Ninjas.” Logically, the whole hiding behind doors mechanic gets sillier the more you think about it, but it’s fun, so who cares. Overall, it’s a solid game and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a a hidden gem on the NES.
#37 – Quackshot Starring Donald Duck (Genesis)
For people wanting something tougher than Castle of Illusion, but still very easy, Quackshot is a perfect game. If you’re looking for anything more than this, or particularly if you’re looking for something in the vein of the NES Ducktales games, move along or else you will be extremely disappointed.
#36 – Thunder Force III (Genesis)
I flew around and shot things with some neat weapons. It’s still a shmup, so it was painfully repetitive and tedious.
#35 – Arcus Odyssey (Genesis)
If they’d used the regular top-down perspective from a game like Link to the Past, this game might’ve been really good. Instead, they used an isometric perspective, which…I should probably write something about how terrible all isometric games are some day. Anyway, it’s an action RPG and I love action RPGs. It’s got some interesting enemies and bosses, and with its multiplayer option, I could really see this being a lot of fun for some couch co-op. It’s also the 4th game in the Arcus series and I’m going to be looking into trying the previous games next year. I’m glad I played this game.
#34 – Adventures of Lolo 2 (NES)
I really like Adventures of Lolo. The first one is a fairly unique puzzle game. Difficult, but fun. The second one added next to nothing though. It’s pretty much just a bunch more levels that could’ve been in the original. Some of the enemy sprites looked a little different. That’s about it, so it was a little disappointing. Still fun and still worth playing, especially if you played and enjoyed the original.
#33 – Gremlins 2: The New Batch (NES)
Gremlins was a huge part of my childhood, but I somehow never even knew there was a Gremlins 2 video game or that it was pretty good. The jumping was just off at times, with jumping, avoiding enemies and projectiles, and landing on the right platform being more difficult than it should have. The same goes for trying to hit enemies to your right or left, especially jumping enemies. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always had trouble determining the position of an enemy in older games when they can jump and also move up and down . I don’t often see other people complain about this, so I’ll assume it isn’t an issue with the games, but rather with me.
#32 – Dynamite Headdy (Game Gear)
Everything about this game is better in the Genesis version, but it’s still a fun, colourful, and unique little action platformer. You get to run around as an ant who throws his head at enemies and can get power ups that give you different heads. It has a great soundtrack. It is a decent length for a handheld game. The levels are bizarre in a good way. I haven’t played a tonne of Game Gear games, but I would bet that outside of Sonic games, this one is among the best for the system.
#31 – Sonic Chaos (Master System)
Speaking of Sonic games, here is one I’d never even heard of until a few months ago. I was looking up if there were one or two Sonic games for the Master System when I discovered I was wrong either way. This is the first 8-bit game where you can play as Tails, and both he and Sonic can perform the spin dash. Tails can fly and doesn’t need to collect the Chaos Emeralds, effectively making him the Easy Mode for the game. Sonic can perform the super peel out, a move I’d never even heard of before, thus confirming me as a fake Sonic fan, I guess. The game is fun, but short. It isn’t as smooth or pretty as the Genesis games, but it’s well worth playing.
#30 – The G.G. Shinobi (Game Gear)
The last few games were close, but with this one, we’ve definitely crossed over into the territory of games that I would list among my all time favourites had I played them growing up. I’ve always loved Shinobi, but I’d never played one of the handheld versions. Yes, the title is a little weird, but I guess they wanted to make it clear that this wasn’t a port of the original Shinobi. You still play as Joe Musashi, but through the first four levels, you free four other ninja comrades that you can also use, and with each ninja having different abilities, it adds an element of strategy and level design options not present in other Shinobi games. The game is tough, but you should expect nothing less from Shinobi. It is also short, which is the only real knock against it.
#29 – Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi (Genesis)
I’ve never played the arcade version of Shinobi, but this game, the series’ second appearance on the Genesis, is apparently loosely based on it. You still run around and do ninja stuff while saving hostages, but this time you have a dog helping you for some reason. I’ve never liked dogs, but at least this one is somewhat useful and doesn’t spend all its time jumping on you and ramming its face in your crotch. It does bark all the time, so it’s still annoying…because it is a dog. After you beat a level, you jump off a building. It’s never explained why you do this, or why other ninjas are jumping up buildings to attack you as you fall. The levels aren’t that weird, if you can look past the fact that there are ninjas and dudes with guns all over the place, along with hostages. I’m suddenly realising how little sense the early Shinobi games made. Whatever, it’s still good.
#28 – Haunting Starring Polterguy (Genesis)
This game is better than the game itself is. I know that makes no sense, but it’s the best way I can put it. You play as a dead kid who tries to haunt the family that killed you thanks to the defective skateboard they manufacture. You can possess various objects and fixtures in the house, systematically driving each family member out of the house. Once they’re all out, you’ve beaten the level and do it again in their next house. You can only remain in the house and haunting for so long before your “ecto” runs out and you have to return to an underworld level to replenish it. It’s almost like the game is so unique and great in theory, but the execution of those ideas suffers from the limitations of the hardware available at the time and the awful isometric ¾ perspective. Still, I’m glad I played it. It was fun for what it is. I’d love to see a new game take some of the ideas found in the game and execute them on modern hardware. I don’t know that any other game has tried to do what Haunting Starring Polterguy tried to do.
#27 – Gain Ground (Genesis)
I’m not sure how to describe this game. I played the Master System version first and liked it more for reasons I’m not sure I can explain. The game is really good and like nothing else I’ve ever played. I highly recommend it. I’ll explain more when I’ll write about the Master System version in part 2 of this.
#26 – Dungeon Siege III (PS3)
I love action RPGs. This might be a very mediocre one, at least according to most reviews I’ve seen, but I enjoyed it. It didn’t have the greatest combat or the most compelling story, but when it’s from a game that I got because some dude was selling 5 games for $50 and I wanted 4 of them and convinced him to give me all 5 for $35, the fact that I enjoyed what I consider a free game is a huge win. Hell, that kinda makes it a great game. In terms of value for my money, we’re talking infinite value. Having said that, the game is easily worth $10 or $15. I’ve never played any other Dungeon Siege games, so I didn’t notice any little nods or winks to previous games. I didn’t know the lore or any of the history behind the series. Despite all that, it was a fun 15 hour-ish experience. It was a little too linear, had terrible loot, but a decent combat system and 4 characters to choose from, offering some replay value.