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Now it’s time to look at the final NES game from the new batch of installments. This one has a pretty cool sounding name. It’s always a little hard to play a SNES game and then go back to NES right after but this one holds its own. There is a bit of a plot which is always nice although good luck remembering it. The gameplay is fairly unique for its time and so when you add all of this together you’ve got yourself a pretty solid experience. I enjoyed the game. It’s definitely quite difficult so you really have to make sure to hone your skills or prepare to rewind quite a lot.
The gameplay is that of a 2D shooter. You are always flying so the idea is to move around a lot so you don’t get tagged by the villains. You can move in any direction but the screen is always scrolling to the right so you want to make sure that you stay in range and ready. If you hang around the edge of the screen too long you may find yourself in a bit of a jam. Your weapon is constantly changing during the game as well. You have a normal blaster, rockets, wave blast, etc. Enemies you fight will drop the various power ups. Due to this, you may not always want to grab the next weapon. Some are clearly better than others if you ask me. For example, I consider the laser to be one of the worst ones. The range is just way too small so no matter how much damage it does you feel like you could do better. That’s why I like the bomb which has a nice explosion or the wave blast. Both of those really put you in a good position to win and at the end of the day that’s really what you’re gunning for right?
There are around 10 levels or so I’d say. Each one has a ton of enemies to get through and then a big boss at the end. You definitely don’t want to underestimate the bosses. Those guys can really fight and it takes a lot of blasts to bring them down. One of the toughest parts is trying to land your hits while they’re throwing out all kinds of attacks. You have to take the hits that you can and then retreat. Rinse and repeat and eventually you’ll have them down. The rewind feature will end up being crucial here though. Without it it’s just very difficult to stay on top of all this.
The graphics are pretty nice. I feel like they’ve aged better than some of the other NES titles I’ve been playing through. It does capture that sci-fi feeling pretty well I’d say. As for the soundtrack, it’s definitely high energy which is good. All in all this game was developed well and the amount of effort here was solid. The game itself is fairly short but that’s to be expected. There isn’t really any replay value here so it’s all just about how much you enjoy the initial playthrough. It’s free if you have the Nintendo Switch Online so you can’t really go wrong there.
There’s not a whole lot more to say about this game just due to how direct it is by nature. It’s very simple to explain and play through. The gameplay is very smooth. I guess one thing I’d say is even if you are avoiding the power ups so you keep your favorite weapon, make sure you pick up any items with an R on them. Those are recovery items which give you some much needed health. Your health goes down real quick here so you really want to grab any extra bits that you can.
Overall, S.C.A.T. is a pretty fun title. I’m not going to say it’s great or anything but I had a good time playing it. It’s the kind of game that doesn’t do anything wrong. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly strong in any area so it’s not as high as it could be but I’d still recommend checking it out. Just remember your fundamentals and you should be able to get through these levels. Now I have to eagerly await the next round of games for Nintendo to add to the service. Hopefully the gap isn’t quite as long this time.
It’s time to look at a pretty big puzzle game for the NES. Solomon’s Key is one of the titles that looked pretty fun and I saved it for the end of my NES run. Outside of the more RPG type titles the NES collection is now done. Solomon’s Key is a pretty fun way to end off. There are a lot of puzzles here and it’s pretty fun to figure out a way to clear the level. Due to the nature of the game there are many different ways to clear the stages although I imagine that near the end of the game you’ll have to follow more of a set strategy. The game certainly does start to get pretty difficult towards the end.
The idea of each level is to make it to the key and then to go through the door. Both of these items are strategically placed somewhere in the level. Usually to taunt you the exit door will be right near the entrance so you know it’s super close but it doesn’t matter until you get the key. The way you navigate the level is by jumping and summoning boxes. You can make a box appear which you can then jump on and make more boxes appear. There does seem to be a limit to how many boxes you can create at a time, but it’s fairly high up and shouldn’t matter. Either way the enemies eat your boxes very quickly. In a lot of the levels you have to go very quickly but also try to take into account the fact that the enemies will definitely not let up as they try to take you down.
It’s a lot of fun trying to outwit the computers. You have to predict what they will do ahead of time. It’s a great brain teaser and I made it pretty far through the game. I didn’t quite beat all of the levels as I stopped around halfway but it would be a great conquest for someone to beat them all. The dificulty noticeably spikes as you go through the game. While the first few you could just power through with experienced platforming that just won’t cut it later on. One thing I would try to do is box the enemies in but that only works on the first kind of enemies. The rest of them slice through your blocks like butter so it’s almost pointless to even try. It can at least slow them down though.
The toughest level for me was one where a lot of statues are constantly shooting fireballs at you. It’s a straight forward level design wise as you just have to climb up around 12 stories without a ladder. Naturally this means you will be using your blocks but as they are getting destroyed right as you are creating them you have to keep using others as a shield. The difficult part is as you go up you can only make a shield on your level so they can shoot out the ground from under you. Ultimately what I did to get around this was to always create in sets of 2 and 3 so there would be enough ground for me to keep climbing up. It took a ton of tries along with different variations of the plan but ultimately I made it through. The game definitely feels very rewarding after pulling that off.
The graphics are definitely fun and pleasant. This is a game that has aged rather well. Part of this is because there aren’t a lot of assets or characters on the screen so the developers could really focus on the ones they did have. The core gameplay is also timeless since this is a logic puzzle game that anyone can get behind. The music is also decent although I dare say a little too peaceful. Throw in some electronic music or something a little more rock based and that would really help you begin to crack the code. If you ask me that would be the perfect way to give the game a little extra boost that it could use.
Overall, Solomon’s Key is pretty fun. It’s also longer than the average NES game with how many levels it has. You can really test your puzzle abilities and with the NES Access States so you can always save your progress and try more the next day. That’s something I’ve always really enjoyed about the online state. I look forward to more games being added at some point. I’m guessing we already have most of the games available but certainly there are some more out there right?
It’s time to take a look at an old NES game that I actually wasn’t really a fan of. The gameplay is unique so that is always nice to see. I haven’t played a game quite like this one. The closest would probably be DK King of Swing which has a similar concept just with a completely different gameplay style. That one succeeds a lot more than this one though. Clu Clu Land is ultimately okay in a small batch but beyond that you need to really enjoy the gameplay to stick with it. Considering all the other games on the NES I wouldn’t really be spending much time with it.
So here’s how the levels go. You play as a creature that automatically flies through the stage. The goal is to turn the stage into an image or something. As such, there are hidden coins around many of the turns. You have to bump into them all to complete the picture. Since you don’t know what the picture even looks like at first your opening strategy is really to bump into as many corners as possible. Once you’ve got the general idea of the shape then you can target the gates that you want to pass. You turn by sticking your hand out and grabbing a pole and use that momentum to go in a new direction. You can only reach out one hand at a time so try to plan your movements a few steps ahead of time. After all, each action will need another one.
Additionally you need to avoid the enemies. A single hit will take down your life so you want to live for as long as possible. The lives aren’t exactly easy to come by after all. I liked seeing the various shapes that would form. Clu Clu Land definitely has really nice visuals that have aged well. I can definitely appreciate the difficulty of making so many images using only coins. The stages remind me a bit of Pac Man with how they’re set up. It looks like a very similar style at least even if the gameplay is different. The music is less memorable, but fast enough where it’s pretty fitting while going through the levels.
So in the end the reason the gameplay didn’t click with me is that it just didn’t feel like enough was going on. Ultimately all you’re doing it turning. While you can probably break many games’ core gameplay down into a simple structure like that, you still feel like a lot is going on. This game doesn’t disguise that quite as well to me. I think a lot of the appeal will be from seeing the pictures that you create which are nice to look at, but I need more. Throwing in some physical movement would have been nice. Maybe allowing you to move the character back and forth and then you only need to use the hand feature when you want to turn. Ultimately that would still be very similar though so maybe that wouldn’t change very much at all.
In terms of replay value this game technically has quite a lot. You can keep on playing the levels over and over again to improve your score and move on to the next. I assume the game basically has unlimited levels although I imagine there will be a point where they start to loop. At that point you can really say that you conquered the experience and it really would be pretty impressive. These games were definitely not a walk in the park back when they came out and certainly not today either.
Overall, Clu Clu Land is the weakest NES game I’ve played in a bit. I definitely wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s the weakest NES game or anything like that but it just didn’t work out for me. If you like the general concept then I believe you’ll enjoy the execution. The gameplay is pretty smooth and I certainly didn’t notice any lag or anything like that. The gameplay’s also a bit familiar so I believe I probably played a demo at some point like in NES Remix or something. I think this game would be more enjoyable as a minigame.
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It’s time to take a look at the Mighty Bomb Jack! This game’s pretty interesting. It’s a very unique platformer and I like the gameplay style. There’s a bit of an iffy game design moment near the very end of the title but for the most part this game really doesn’t slow down the pace throughout the whole game. In a way I’d say the closest game I can think of as being like this one would be the Kirby titles since this guy can also float around for a while.
The basic premise of the game is that the King is captured so you need to save him. The levels are mainly long platforming types where you have to float to the end. Unlike Kirby you can’t increase your height once you jump, but by mashing the A button you can keep the same level of height for a pretty long time. When you get to the end of a level you’ll see a gate you can go through. If the gate isn’t open then that means that you will need to collect all of the bombs. This isn’t true for all levels but in some they do make sure you collect them all. You just have to touch the bombs which is easy enough. I tend to skip them unless the game forces me to grab the bombs though because otherwise I figure there is no real point to doing so right?
There are around 17-18 levels in the game which is a good amount for a NES game. I’d say that it’ll take you around an hour. The levels aren’t particularly long and some of them seem to reuse the level design so you’ll already know where to go. For a minute there I actually thought I was in a loop so I quickly had to look the game up online to make sure that wasn’t the case. Fortunately the game does have an ending. The only dicey level as I mentioned is the final one. So, you’ll blow up all of the balloons and will notice that the gate is still closed. Well, there are 3 completely invisible blocks you have to destroy in order to open the gate. There’s no way to tell where they are except to jump on every block which takes a while since you’ve got a ton of enemies on your tail. This is one of those games in which a single hit will meet your doom so confronting the enemies is pretty tricky.
After you do that there is an invisible block in the next room as well. Once you find that you enter the King’s chamber. To break him out you need to jump on the blocks above him a bunch of times. That was difficult to figure out. Initially I thought that I may need the powered up forms which would have meant my doom because there were none left. You can power up with some S tokens along the way but I never really grabbed any. So, the whole game is pretty straight forward except the climax. I don’t think the invisible blocks are very reasonable to be honest, especially since this is a factor that simply wasn’t present during the rest of the game. How is anyone possibly supposed to know where to go or what to do in that situation?
Still, the core gameplay is quite fun. I do like how high you can jump and your movement speed is also on point. The graphics here are very good as well. Everything is very bright and easy to understand right from the start. Additionally, the enemy designs are pretty inspired. The music is all right as well. The length may not be amazing but I’d say that it will do. According to the box art there are 4 endings as well although I’m not sure how to get the others. I got the standard ending I believe which is pretty simple. You grab the king and sink into the pyramid. I don’t imagine that the other endings would be much different but that is a complete assumption on my part.
Overall, Mighty Bomb Jack is a cool game and one of those gems under the rug. I doubt I would have ever come across it if not for the Switch Online. It was a good game to leave til near the end of the batch so I always had something to look forward to. If you like the Kirby games or platformers in general then I definitely recommend checking this one out. It’s a pretty fun experience and definitely a high quality way to spend an hour or so.
It’s time to look at the third Donkey Kong game. This one brings yet another new gameplay style into the mix. It’s pretty impressive how Donkey Kong would keep switching things up. It definitely ensures that the players will always have a new experience. I liked the style, but as with the first two games it is extremely short and it’s really hard to even say what the general plot is. The game starts looping before a plot can even really begin which does make things tricky.
Well you’re playing as a guy with a blaster. You have to blast DK back up into the trees when he tries to get down. That sounds easy enough right? Just keep blasting and you’ll have the levels over in a snap. The main obstacles that try to get in your way here as little insects that are running around. They try to jump in front of your shots to protect DK. The key is typically to blast them before they get close or ignore them and try to beat DK first. That’s really it. You can jump of course and I recommend it to get the blasts in a little quicker. That’s the extent of the gameplay though and before long you will be all done. Then you can just keep replaying the levels til you get bored or lose. The levels do continue to get more and more difficult with each cycle so you don’t have to worry about lasting forever.
As mentioned, I did like the gameplay. It’s interesting to see Nintendo come up with more of a shooter gameplay style since most of their games don’t work with that as much. They did have Metroid though so it’s not like it is completely unheard of. It’s definitely on the repetitive side though because there aren’t very many different enemies to worry about and the levels are so short. After a little bit you’ll feel like you’re in the cycle so it’s not surprising that this game never got quite as big as the first two.
As for the soundtrack, it’s definitely pretty good. It has that old Nintendo feel about it. The graphics are also good. I like the colorful enemies here and the nice backdrops. Nintendo always delivers here. It’s just a shame we couldn’t get more of an ending cutscene or something to make the game feel like it had a proper conclusion. Without that the loops feel a little more on the pointless side because you never see anything end which is pretty unfortunate.
One thing that would have made a real difference here is one extra level in the loop. In this one maybe there would be no insects and it would just be DK throwing barrels at you. The goal would be to to blast away at him while dodging his attacks until he is all the way up. That would feel more like a real end to each cycle and increase the stakes quite a bit. Trust me, doing that would definitely go a long way to making the game more memorable as well as more enjoyable.
Overall, Donkey Kong 3 is a game that has pretty much been forgotten to time. If you don’t have the Switch Online then chances are that you’ll never come across this game. It’s a shame but sometimes that is just how the ball bounces. I’d say you should give this game a quick play if you have the Switch. You should be able to beat it in about 15 minutes or less and then you can say that you’ve played one of the original Donkey Kong games. Pretty sweet deal right? I’d say it is at least. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get a proper Donkey Kong 4 or something like that. It’s been a long time since the games used these various styles.