Dateline 18th January 2012


Continuing the NES January Classic, under the microscope this time are a couple of original titles, a few arcade conversions and one game that had me laughing like a banshee. So join me as I go up to the letter R…………..


I have always said retro gaming gives you enough excitement to get wood. Here is proof.


JIMMY CONNORS TENNIS – I have never been a fan of tennis and have much preferred to play the game on a computer. Virtua Tennis has always been my preferred choice, but before that came around there were a number of games on the market. This one, using 8 time Grand Slam winner Jimmy Connors as it’s figurehead, isn’t a bad effort and you do get the chance to angle shots, put spin on your shots and smash the ball. A lot of early tennis games weren’t as varied as that which is a good thing. Another good thing is the number of tournaments you can play in, a very good control system and throw in some decent graphics to make a rather good package for a solid, if unspectacular game of computer tennis.


KIRBY ADVENTURE – Another Retro confession coming up ; I have never ever played a Kirby game. Call me unadventurous but there has always been something rather unappealing about a large pink blob and some weird platform related adventure. Boy was I wrong. Within moments of picking up this bizarre but beautiful looking game I was hooked. Its platforming at it most basic, but the way it is done really does make it stand out. Kirby self inflates, he can shoot all manner of pick ups like flame and swords from his mouth and the wacky sub and bonus games are a treat. I cannot recommend this game enough and its a harsh lesson learned not to judge anything by it’s cute package too much. No doubt about it, this is a quality title.


THE LITTLE MERMAID – It’s based on the Disney film/cartoon series of the same name. It scrolls left to right. You actually have to kill fish. I thought all the underwater creatures were friends of Arial ? Oh and some sub-reggae music plays on the soundtrack. It’s about as dull and uninspiring as film tie ins get. File this under YAWN.



MIGHTY BOMB JACK – I have only played the original Bomb Jack on the C64 and that was a number of years ago. Unfortunately that port of the game was one of the worst conversions of the original game, so not a very good example. I preferred playing this version, which was one of the early games for the NES. All you have to do is simply clear the rooms of the bombs whilst avoiding the enemies. However they multiply very quickly, which means stalling or going back for missed bombs makes for a tricky escape. Getting greedy with collecting the coins that provide your defence mechanism means the game sends you to a torture room, with ever increasing enemies. There is no doubt Bomb Jack is a little different and the challenge and difficulty of the game means you’ll come back to it again and again. Undeniably an improvement on the original.


NEW ZEALAND STORY – A game I adored on the Amiga, in fact I think it was one of the first games I had for that machine. I never quite finished it either and would love another crack on it. The C64 version was slower – obviously – and to me not as good, whilst the Master System version was just too twitchy with the controls. So how does the NES version fare ? Well it’s the best version I have played since the Amiga, with the difficulty level set just right. The game, whilst not as colourful as the Master System version, really does look the part with a cracking little rendition of the theme tune too. Its great that such a sterling job was done on this version and one every NES owner must possess.


OPERATION WOLF – The heavy rotation of arcade conversions continues with this offering of Taito’s gun mounted cabinet classic. I couldn’t play this with the light gun, as I only have an LCD TV and you need one of the old CRT models for the gun to work, so had to use the pad. This made everything ten times more difficult and getting 1/3 of the way through level 2 on my first go seemed quite good. Graphically it can’t compete with being anything like the arcade game, whilst it does a fair job, some of the graphics are a little disappointing. It does have that core element of the original – being run and gun – and it does succeed. You really need the light gun to experience this as it was meant to be.


POOYAN – This is a Japanese game that caught my eye. I must be honest I have no idea what is going on but it appears to be something along this lines of this : shoot arrows to stop the wolves. The first section has you preventing them from reaching the bottom of the screen, the second level stopping them getting to the top. You play the role of Mama Pig protecting her children from the clutches of the balloon loving wolves. Yes it doesn’t sound like the best game ever but it’s probably the most fun I have had for a long time playing a game. It’s cute, playable and very addictive. Converted to almost no consoles at all from it’s arcade original (There are versions for the 2600 and C64 according to Wikipedia), this is a gem which should catch your attention if you get the chance to play it.


Q-BERT – Ah yes. I remember this from the Atari 2600 with it’s inverted controls that for a 8 year old are incredibly difficult to comprehend. Nearly 30 years later it is less confusing but still as annoying and frustrating. You press your controller the way you think you want to go, only to see Q-BERT go in entirely the opposite. All you need to do is light up the blocks on the grid whilst avoiding being hit by various nasties lurking on the board. You need quick fingers and even quicker wits and a good measure of patience. Get beyond the frustration and you’ll have a lot of fun. Just get the controls sorted in your head first !


ROLLING THUNDER – Notoriously one of the hardest games to come from the arcade to the home computer, Rolling Thunder is your straightforward left to right scroller. Just keep shooting the enemies, avoid getting hit and keep picking up the extra ammunition and gun upgrades. However like a lot of the games of its time, the difficulty level is ramped up to maximum from the early levels and it will take a lot of skill and patience to proceed. It’s a shame because it is a great example of this genre of game, but doesn’t give the gamer a fair chance.


Join me next time for the final part of the NES January Classic !