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The first Donkey Kong was pretty fun so I was ready to jump into the second one. JR definitely switches up the gameplay quite a bit though. This one’s all about climbing and is a pretty nice change of pace. I actually thought it was a pretty solid sequel. It may not be as iconic or riveting as the first one, but it did a solid job of filling in its shoes. The game is over in the blink of an eye though since it only has 3-4 levels before it starts looping endlessly. That’s consistent with the first title though.
So the basic plot is that Mario has finally captured DK. It definitely took a lot of skill to do so and the hero is ready to call it a day. His plans end up changing though as Jr has arrived to rescue the former villain of the first game. Mario sends out a bunch of creatures to try and stop him, but Jr isn’t afraid of getting mixed up with a little action. He’s never backed down from a fight before and he certainly isn’t planning on starting now. The villains will have to watch out because Jr is definitely not playing around.
The gameplay here is pretty simple. You have to climb up the ladders until you reach Mario. You can move up and down as well as sideways as long as there is a vine there. You can’t touch any of the enemies of course so the idea is to always make sure you are going around them. You move a lot faster if you have one hand on each of the vines as opposed to totally being on one. This should help you breeze through the game a little easier. At the end of some levels you also have to bring some keys to the top and being on two ladders helps a lot since then you are bringing up 2 keys at once.
The gameplay doesn’t have any other wrinkles to it so you’ll master it within a few minutes. You can easily beat the game in under 15 minutes as well. So in terms of length this is definitely one of the shorter ones present. You can play it over again and again for replay value I suppose, but since the gameplay is so basic I doubt you’ll be doing that. It’s not quite as fun to replay over and over as something like Pac Man. There are less variables here and as a result that means there are less things to try. A lot of times you’ll just be clearing the levels in the same way over and over again which doesn’t provide much of an incentive to play through it some more.
The graphics are definitely really solid. Everything is very clear and this could pass off as an SNES game. Nintendo really didn’t hold back. The soundtrack is catchy enough as well even if it’s not very memorable. One thing Nintendo always kept in mind for a lot of these games was not to lose sight of the fun factor and that’s what helps keep Jr afloat. No matter what at least you know that you’ll be having a good amount of fun as you blast through this game.
Overall, Donkey Kong Jr is a pretty fun game. I liked the gameplay style and it all looks pretty high end for the console as Nintendo always tends to provide with their big games. The extremely short length is unfortunate but I suppose if you’re playing for score then you won’t really mind that too much. I’d definitely recommend giving it a try if you have the Switch Online service. It is free at that point anyway so it’s not like you’re really going to be sacrificing any cash to check it out right? I’ll be reviewing the Donkey Kong 3 game shortly which will be a nice way to end off the trilogy. Once that is over the NES games are also near their end. I’ve only got around 8 of them left although that isn’t counting the next 3 reviews which are already in progress.
It’s time to look at the classic Mario Bros game. I remember playing this one a lot back in the GBA days because it came as a special feature along with Super Mario World. It’s definitely a fun title to spend some time with. It’s also nostalgic seeing the level layout since the stage usually makes it into the Super Smash Bros titles or at least it’s been there for 2-3 of them I believe. The game uses the good ole jumping gameplay from the 2D adventures while switching things up a bit as the levels don’t have you going after a goal. It’s definitely a lot of fun and I’d recommend giving this one a look.
So the gameplay involves a bunch of enemies appearing out of pipes on the top layer of the stage. Your job is to jump and hit the ground they are walking on. This will cause the enemy to flip over. At this point they are vulnerable and you can jump onto the layer and kick them off. It’s definitely the tactic I would recommend here. The earlier you knock them off the better because once there are a lot of enemies on the map it can get difficult to isolate them. Additionally there are fireballs that roam through the levels and touching any of them means instant death. You also have a Pow Block that will hit all of the enemies at once but you should really only save that for when you are being completely overwhelmed. It’s not a resource that you just want to bust out at any ole time. Think of it as your secret weapon.
I made it pretty far here into the 20s. I don’t know how many levels there are but that seemed like a reasonable push. At latter levels you get to fight with minions that are a little faster than the original ones. You have to choose your jumping spots carefully because if they get past you then it may be all over for your chances of success. There are also little ice minions who will freeze the ground which makes it a lot more difficult for you to move around freely. You’ll end up skidding or stopping in your tracks whenever you try to change directions.
The graphics are definitely solid. This is also a game where the main theme is pretty catchy and memorable. It works well when you’re taking down the enemies. I didn’t see an option to play as Luigi but since this game is called Mario Bros I assume that there has to be some kind of way to choose him. Otherwise the title just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and I’d have to question why the game called it that. This is a very peaceful game but also so different from the other Mario games. The series really shifted gears after this one. It would be interesting to see more of a homage to this game in a future Mario installment. After all, this game did serve as a stepping stone to launch the franchise.
In terms of replay value it’s really all just about trying to see if you can beat your high score. Whether the levels have an end or not, there isn’t really an actual story here. You just jump right into the game and work on defeating the minions. It’s got that arcade feel to it where the levels are just a lot of fun to play through. You shouldn’t have any problem getting the hang of the controls and just diving in. Nintendo’s always done a good job of making the first levels pretty easy which gives you time to get comfortable with the controls. Then slowly but surely they start giving you some real challenges to work with.
Overall, Mario Bros is a solid NES game. As with most of Nintendo’s original titles it has a lot of character. You can feel the effort that went into this game. It’s just a very well designed one and so you won’t get bored here as you play it for a while. Ultimately the lack of content will prevent it from getting a higher score but I imagine it is always tough to add more content like that back in the day. The games could only hold so much space in them after all. I’m one step closer to completing all of the NES games which will be a cool milestone.
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Time for another classic Nintendo game. This one I was definitely not familiar with but it looked like Ninja Gaiden so it had to be good right? Well, the gameplay is definitely pretty similar although I would say that Ninja Gaiden still has the edge overall. The gameplay was just a little tighter in that one and it also had more of an engaging plot. Still, this one is pretty close in all respects which is quite impressive. I’m surprised that the game isn’t more well known. I think there would definitely be a pretty good audience for it.
The United States has been taken over by a powerful new villain who needs an empire. The two Ninja are called in to take this guy down. You’ll probably have a whole lot of questions about this. Why is the U.S. banking everything on two ninja warriors? Why do ninja still exist in a futuristic America? Well, the game has no time for these questions because it throws you into the thick of the action right away. The goal here is to just stop the villain and so the heroes march their way through various levels and lots of different enemies.
The game does a good job of taking advantage of this future setting. You fight a lot of robots and at times the game feels a bit like a Megaman X title. When you blast at the robots they even split into two different ones in a similar fashion to some of the original X villains. The backdrops have a ton of variety and the bosses are pretty fun too. One guy gets swallowed up by his bird and they merge into an armored bird which was pretty cool. The final boss also has a pretty good design. One thing I found interesting about the bosses is the game would try to keep you in suspense about what their weak point was for a while. During the first bit of each boss fight they have an extra health bar but you can’t see it so it looks like you may be hitting the wrong point.
The fact is you are hitting the right spot, you just can’t see the damage it is taking. On the other hand it’s pretty risky business because with at least one boss you did have to hit him in a specific way (crouch hit) so if you were not doing that you would be there for quite a while. Each boss is different which may sound like a pretty small thing but I always appreciate when each boss is different. It speaks to the effort of the developers. Cloning different bosses is pretty easy but it also feels a bit lazy at times.
The gameplay is pretty straight forward. You rush through the 2D levels in order to reach the end. You standard weapon is a sword but when you break crates you can change weapons to a chain, throwing knife, sword with shockwaves, etc. The one I recommend staying away from is the chain to the point where I would rewind if I grabbed that one. It’s hard to tell which weapon is in the box and I believe it’s intentional. It’s like a roulette game where you just don’t know what’s going to happen next. I doubt the chain is meant to be a terrible weapon, it just did not click for me.
The graphics are definitely solid although I think you already get the picture from how I was describing it earlier. A lot of effort was put into this game for sure. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is pretty light but works quite well either way. Couple that with the smooth gameplay and this title’s ready to go. One really fun enemy was this little robot square that would keep circling the stage and trying to blast you. This is one of those games where attacks deal massive damage so let me tell you, you do not want to get hit by that guy. Figuring out the right strategy to beat the various enemies who would show up was half the fun of the game.
Overall, Shadow of the Ninja is a very fun game. The story is definitely solid and the gameplay really holds up quite well. It may be pretty short but the game is really diverse so it feels like they kicked in a bunch of content. This game did take me about an hour which is definitely longer than most NES titles. It’s a pretty challenging experience so don’t expect it to be a walk in the park either. You will definitely have to work at beating this one and mastering those fundamentals quite a bit. This is definitely one of the best NES games available in the service.
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It’s time to look at another classic NES game. Blaster Master is pretty well known compared to most of the other titles on the console. This is due to an extent to newer games in the series being released but also because the original was simply ahead of the curve at the time. It has two different gameplay styles and even switches from 2D to 3D at different points. This is something that was really unheard of back in the day so that’s pretty crazy.
The game even has an intro cutscene which is also super cool. Basically a frog falls into the Earth and gets lost somewhere in the caverns so now the lead has to find him. Fortunately the main character has his trusty robot at the ready and is definitely going to cause some waves. He’ll destroy monster after monster until he finds his friend. That’s part of why this main character is so good. He is absolutely determined to find his pet and won’t rest until he does so. I’d be game for this getting a film at some point. The sci-fi/fantasy elements would really work quite well.
The gameplay varies as I mentioned, but for the most part it’s a 2D shooting platformer. The hub world has this style and then it switches to 3D when you enter a labyrinth. As a result it’s fair to say that you’ll be spending most of your time here. Make sure you figure out how to leave your robot to run around, that part took me a long time and I can guarantee you that you won’t get far if you stay in the robot. For one thing it’s impossible to climb ladders or enter labyrinths if you stay in the bot. The robot is fun though with how it can shoot powerful energy blasts. Naturally it’s a lot stronger than your human self. It seems like you can recover your health if you leave the robot for a little while so if you’re low on health that may be a good exploit. I only used this briefly though so I can’t guarantee that it works all of the time.
When you’re in the labyrinth you need to keep exploring until you see a boss. Sometimes these mazes can get confusing so you’ll find yourself back at the entrance but don’t leave. I did that a few times but ultimately I would need to go back and it would turn out that there actually was a boss there. I’m not sure if every labyrinth has a boss so it’s possible you will be aimlessly wandering but in all of the ones I went too there seemed to be bosses. The game gives you a cool special effect where the whole screen goes dark and then the boss shows up. The game seems to low key have some horror elements to it with that. It’s incorporating some Resident Evil/Metroid there. I’m curious how the final boss would look. Maybe like one of those creatures from the box art?
The graphics are pretty solid. There are quite a few backdrops to explore here and a lot of moving character models. The energy blasts are solid and I like the design for the robot. It feels like a real threat and not a machine you would want to fight in a life or death situation. The soundtrack is less memorable, but it sounded okay to me. The story mode being real was still overloading my mind at the time. The story is a pretty good length especially when you take into account that a lot of the levels are mazes. It can take a while to clear these dungeons. I managed to beat around 3 before I ran out of time. These are the real deal.
When it comes to replay value I don’t imagine there is much after beating the game. I guess you could try to beat the game quicker or through losing fewer lives but there aren’t really any other modes. Your main incentive for playing through this game is absolutely the story. Fortunately it’s a good story and with the quality gameplay at the ready that’s a winning combo. The game is also free if you have the Nintendo Switch Online so you can’t really go wrong there either right?
Overall, Blaster Master is one of those classics that actually lives up to the term. This is a game that has aged quite well to the modern day. You can plug it in and start playing right now. As long as you enjoy platformers or shooters then you will have fun here. It’s also got that Legend of Zelda dungeon exploring so that helps it appeal to even more audiences. This game was surprisingly sophisticated so I’m definitely up for playing future installments at some point.
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It’s time to look at a pretty old film from the 30s. I’m sure just about everyone has heard of this film though because it has gotten several remakes over the years. I can’t say I had high expectations for the film, but it still managed to underwhelm me after watching. It feels like not a lot happens in the movie and you may grow bored by the end. I think a few plots could have been cut out, particularly some of the romance and backstabbing going on.
The film is focused on the 4 main girls who are trying to lead fulfilling lives. Jo is the main character and she’s always been a tom boy much to the embarrassment of her sisters who feel this puts them in an awkward spot at social gatherings. Jo meets up with the next door neighbor Laurie and they hit it off. The thing is, she just wants to be friends while he isn’t looking for that kind of thing. Jo just wants everything to stay the same but gradually her sisters begin to get romantically involved as well. Can she really prolong the status quo?
One thing in life that always rings true is that the status quo can never stay the same forever. Even if you choose to stay single that doesn’t mean everyone else will. You also have to account for World War III, Quarantines, Natural Disasters, and many other events that would make normal life impossible. The best thing to do is enjoy the time you have now and make the most of it so you have no regrets. Jo ends up missing her chance as a result, but at least she wrote a book right? She’s an okay character I guess, but I can’t say that I particularly liked any of the characters in the movie much. Laurie’s grandfather would be the best character for me since he seemed like a nice old man. Jo’s Mom and the maid also seemed like nice characters as well.
Amy is easily the weakest of the sisters though as she helps Laurie rebound from Joe’s rejection pretty quickly. Now, Jo and Laurie were thoroughly done so it’s not cheating, but it’s still pretty iffy to go after someone like that. If you’ve got family who just had a relationship not work out, you’re not going to quickly jump in right? It makes it seem like Amy was waiting for this opportunity and that Laurie must never have been all that serious about Jo. I’ve always got to assume that the romance was not all that real if you can bounce back from it with someone else so soon. So I have to blame both Laurie and Amy here. In particular with Amy it feels like a betrayal. They’re sisters so that makes it especially personal.
Meg doesn’t get nearly as much of a role. She was the first to get into romance I suppose, but that’s about it. The main stories were still mainly about Jo. Unfortunately that did not work in the film’s favor either as her rebound plot wasn’t any good either. She ends up falling for her writing tutor and it’s hard to ignore the fact that there appears to be a significant age gap there. It could just be the actors appearing that way I suppose but since we can only judge from the visuals it is a bit dicey. I don’t think there’s necessarily a problem with an age gap within reasonable limits (both are over 18) but you can’t go too far. Ideally you should be within 2-3 years and maybe at most you can go up to 10 but even that seems a little wide to me. Regardless this romance plot comes about very quickly and nothing about it seems very natural.
The writing is also not that good which is surprising from such an old film. The movie’s never engaging and that’s due in large part to the characters not being interesting. They tend to talk about a lot of things that don’t really matter all that much and certainly don’t hold your attention. You can have a good slice of life film but this movie is missing a key ingredient. It’s missing humor and banter. There is no witty dialogue to be found here or even any scenes that will have you crack a grin. It’s not as if this is a dark or grim film. It’s fairly upbeat and all, but it’s played incredibly serious the whole time and that doesn’t do wonders for the movie. I dare say that humor is absolutely necessary in a film like this. It could be in part due to the age of the film so the humor attempts don’t really resonate but again, I’ve seen plenty of old films with snappy dialogue and solid characters. This one just isn’t one of them.
Overall, Little Women is a movie that has not withstood the test of time. I saw a film similar to this one a while back that was also not very good. The premise just needs something to give it an extra boost that this one didn’t have. If you’re going to check this film out then just be ready for a fairly uneventful experience. If you want a film with a little more excitement then you should check out the original Ghost Rider instead. Of course, that movie is very different right from the start. If you want more of a slice of life adventure then check out the original Odd Couple film. That one’s got a lot more interesting moments to it.