Thursday, October 10, 2013


Developer: Natsume
Publisher: Milton Bradley
Composer: Kiyohiro Sada

Abadox was a game I always saw at the stores but was too afraid to try because of the scary cover and the fact that it was a Milton Bradley game (which was scarier).  I had never given it the time of day so I was pleased to find a real hidden gem during one drunken Coors Lite-infused night.  Let's tap these Rockies.

Does this look like a death metal band logo or what?

There's a few things a lot of people don't know about Abadox that may have caused it to fly under the radar more than it should have.  It was actually developed by Natsume, one of my favorite developers of countless other great titles for the NES such as Shadow of the Ninja, Shatterhand and S.C.A.T.  Putting MB's name on the box is like covering a filet mignon with Spagetthi O's.  The soundtrack was also done by Kiyohiro Sada who you may remember from a certain iconic game by the name of Contra.  What made me look into this more was pausing the game to take a sweaty hands break only to be surprised by the famous Konami pause music.

Right off the bat, Abadox has a lot going for it.  The game is a challenging shooter that takes place in the guts of a giant planet-devouring alien known as Parasitis.  Apparently, this sonovabitch gobbled up your home planet along with Princess Maria.  It's your duty as "Second Lieutenant Nazal" to traverse the beast's innards, blowing up everything in site to save her.

Aim for the tit or get gripped.

So how does it play?  Well, it's hard as balls.  There's enough muscle memory here to compete with the likes of Ninja Gaiden.  Levels are split between side and vertical scrolling.  You get power ups along the way such as speed ups, shields and upgraded weapons and brother, you're going to need them.  Like Gradius, you lose everything when you die which will induce rage seizures.  Some of these levels are flat out impossible to get through unless you have enough upgrades.  The later levels may even cause thoughts of suicide or worse, hitting the reset button!  It's the kind of game you need to master after countless deaths but you never feel like you're backpedaling.  You'll notice improvement after each use of your unlimited continues.

More eyeballs than you can shake a cornea at!

The graphics are colorful and detailed although mostly a red palette.  Everything is as gory and messy as you would expect to see in the bowels of a planet-eating lummox.  From mouth to anal cavity, you won't see the same thing twice except eyeballs.  I sure hope you like eyeballs because there is a metric shit ton of them.  

The controls are tight so if you die, it's most likely your own fault.  Speed power ups are essential to dodge the various nasty nasts this game throws at you.  I can understand why some people would get too frustrated but honestly, there is nothing broken with the gameplay.  It's also worth noting there is little or no slow down which always helps in a shoot em' up.  Big ups to Natsume for pulling that off.

So if dying is what you will do most in this game, at least you have a great soundtrack that never gets old.  Sada does a wonderful job creating the perfect score to help you cause massive internal bleeding to.  Check out this tasty lick.  The ending theme could go toe to toe with Queen's "We Are The Champions".  If you dig this, Sprite Slowdown did a mean rendition that will make you cry tears of honey and can grab it here.  There's more than enough here that's worthy of being covered.  ARE YOU LISTENING VGM COMMUNITY?

Get some Maalox in that Abadox!

Abadox is a solid shoot em' up that draws a lot of comparisons to Lifeforce both in style and concept but has enough going for it to set it apart.  It's a common title you can find at most used game stores for the cost of a Big Mac and I can recommend it all damn day.  Abadox may not be for everyone but if you're in the mood for a game that will put a little hair on your chest, this is your Rogaine with minoxidil.

Controls: 4
Graphics: 4
Music: 4
Fun: 4
Total: 16/20

Little League Baseball

Developer: SNK
Publisher: SNK

As someone who grew up with the NES, I owned a few games and I rented ten times as many.  Even with rentals, playing games at friends' houses, playing Toys R Us kiosks, and all other avenues, I probably played maybe a tenth of the NES catalog by 1995.  Just like everyone else, I had no idea there were so many games.  

It wasn't until the early days of the internet and this mysterious word started going around called "emulation."  You mean I could download almost EVERY game and play them? FOR FREE?!?1? It sounded too good to be true to a poor middle schooler.  In those days you could find a good amount of roms, but you really needed to hunt.  I didn't care.  I wanted to play everything I could get my hands on.

So I explored NES games I had never seen or heard of before.... Guerrilla War, Elevator Action, Yoshi Cookie, Dragon Spirit... These were great games (some were better than others) that I never knew existed. It was like being 8 and having new games released for my loved console again.  Of all my "new" games, though, one stood out - Little League Baseball.

Little League Baseball stands out among the dozens of baseball games on the NES.  With greats like RBI Baseball and Baseball Stars, it has some tough competition.  What makes this game stand out, are the little things.

Timing - Anyone who has played early baseball video games knows the timing is usually all messed up.  A line drive down the line should get you a double, but the base runners are too slow or the outfielder has too strong an arm.  Some baseball games make it impossible to turn a double play, too.  These issues are gone in Little League Baseball.  Diving for a pop up, jumping for a line drive... they all feel right.

A double down the line. Just perfect.

True Player Ability Levels - Each player in LLB has an ability ranking from 1 to 5 and they truly effect the outcome of the game.  Level 5 hitters absolutely mash and level 5 pitchers are dominate.  On the other side, level 1 hitters can barely make it out of the infield and level 1 pitchers got rocked often.  I also really like that these ability levels are connected to the player's position.  For example, a level 5 first baseman will most likely be a level 1 pitcher, but a level 5 third baseman may be a level 2 or 3 pitcher.  It all just makes sense.

Racially stereotypical names just makes this game better.
Song doesn't have a chance here.

Presentation - Little League Baseball is an SNK game, so it controls a lot like Baseball Stars. The look of the players on the field is different, though.  They look more cartoon-y.  I like it better.  In close situations, you see extra animations that really make this game shine.  When your pitcher's in a tough spot, you'll see him turn around and shout at the fielders.  You can imagine he's yelling to them, "Come on, guys! Get your shit together!"  When batters are in close situations, they react depending on their ability level.  Level 1 and 2 hitters start shaking at the knees and sweating, while level 4 and 5 hitters waggle their bats with confidence.  It's really amazing.

How those homerun bewbs passed the 
Nintendo of America inspection, I'll never know.

Tournament Play - Let's be honest. Even the biggest of baseball video game fans are not going to play full seasons on NES games.  It's just not realistic.  This game has Tournament Play which simulates the Little League World Series tournament with ceremonies and all.  You even hear a snippet of the winning team's national anthem at the end of the tournament.

As for music and graphics, this game stands out among other baseball games too.  Little League Baseball is a game that I can't recommend enough for fans of baseball video games.  It's a great sports game to play with a friend and a challenging game to play against the computer.  I have played almost every NES baseball game and this is easily my favorite one.  My friends and I still play it.

                                                           Controls:    5
                                                          Graphics:    4
                                                              Music:    3
                                                                 Fun:     5
                                                              Total: 17/20

Monday, September 16, 2013

Target Renegade

Developer: Software Creations
Publisher: Taito
Composer: Tim Follin

As I've talked about in my Toys R Us musing, buying games as a kid was a gamble.  I’m going to start with a real dud that I had the misfortune of picking up but how could you fault me with box art as badass as that?  It looks like a kung fu Rambo pulling off a flying kick through a glass window.  Like a lot of other NES cover art, the image was lifted from other source material.  This one came from the book cover of martial arts legend Joe Lewis' The World's Greatest Fighter Teaches You How To Master Bruce Lee's Fighting System.  Enough useless knowledge, onto the game review!

Impress your friends at NES trivia night!

Target Renegade is a side scrolling beat’em ported from the ZX Spectrum\Amstrad CPC\Commodore 64 to the NES and was the sequel to Renegade originally developed by Technos.  Inspired by the Double Dragon series, it had all the makings to be a decent game but failed in so many places and unfortunately did not live up to it's sweet cover.

Ugly constipated man presents 
80's action movie tropes 101

The one hit wonder band Mr. Big with the unforgettable monster ballad “To Be With You” are holding your brother hostage, or so my little pea brain thought.  The plot is extremely minimal but hey, this is a beat' em up game on the NES.  How much story do you need?  

You're a generic blue vested one man army up against hordes of enemies of all shapes and sizes.  Seriously, this game has it all!  There are bikers, karate guys, skateboarders, prostitutes, juiced up baseball players and the dreaded creepy balding old men in green trench coats.  I really commend them for keeping the enemy sprites varied throughout the game.  The environments however are boring and with ugly color palettes.  You'll spend a majority of the game fighting through the city streets with your only relief being the forest and bar locations toward the end of the game.

Those hookers pack a mean punch

Your repertoire of moves consists of kicks, punches, flying jump kicks and a sort of tripping attack which throughout most of the game becomes your greatest ally.  There are hardly any weapons to pick up throughout your journey.  The only two to be found are a baseball bat and a parking meter which make the most hilarious "doink" sound if you actually land the attack.  They are difficult to use and near impossible to connect any hits with thanks to unresponsive controls.  Health is scarce and randomly dropped from baddies and you have one life to make it through each level.  Bosses can be completely unfair and frustrating at times.  Your health bar will deplete to almost nothing before you can even get a hit in.  All of this has contributed bite marks on my poor controllers.  Unfortunately, the 2 player aspect of the game never ported over to the NES so you can't even suffer through the game with a friend.  My pro tip to get through the game?  Sweep the leg...sweep ALL the legs.

Prince Hippo?

Musically, the game is pretty good.  It might just be Target Renegade's one redeeming quality.  Tim Follin (Silver Surfer, Spider Man/X-men Arcade's Revenge) has some unique compositions and does some pretty cool stuff with the NES hardware.  It's the type of butt-rock soundtrack that could only be fitting in a game called Target Renegade.  Check this track out immediately!  There are very few songs however so be prepared to hear them over and over again.

I hate when I show up too late for Egg McMuffins too.

So why was Target Renegade such a bad decision as a kid?  In one word, mediocrity.  When going toe to toe with Double Dragon II, the game is trumped in every way.  Where DD2 had the addictive flying knee and jumping spin kick to keep things fun and interesting, Target Renegade had nothing that made it stand out from the rest.  I recommend at least trying the game out if only for it's decent soundtrack and hilarious face animations but fair warning, you'll need at least 5 beers in you to slightly enjoy it.

This is your balls on Target Renegade

Controls: 2
Graphics: 2
Music: 3
Fun: 2
Total: 9/20

Friday, September 13, 2013

Game Room Tour

Welcome to my den of shameful activities (I have the greatest, most understanding wife in the world).  Because I'm such a huge procrastinator, here's my game room tour.  I'll have some reviews up VERY soon.  Please enjoy!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


They just don't sell em' like they used to

Welcome to the site and sorry for the shitty pun!  On my first post, I'd like to touch on a topic that nobody has really covered, a true NES experience found in the purchasing process for NES games in the late 80's to early 90's.  

Growing up in the NES era was a wonderful time.  The internet didn't quite exist yet leaving us kids unequipped with the proper knowledge to venture into the great unknown.  Your only reference for how good a game is was:

1.) Gaming Magazines - there were a ton out there but I had a subscription to Nintendo Power and GamePro for several years.  They were a young nerd's equivalent to Playboy complete with centerfolds and pin ups for you to drool over (I swear that's why the pages are stuck together!).

I shit you not, these bad boys came in almost every issue of NP

2.) Word of Mouth - this was basically playground chat.  "Hey man, did you get that new game Star Tropics?  This game is radical!  You actually have to dip the instruction manual in water to get a secret code".

3.) Looking at the back of the game box and praying to your preferred deity that you made the right decision.

Not to get all Pepperidge Farms on you but life was simpler back then. Now let me paint you a pretty little picture that will forever be framed in my mind.  

On rare occasion, my parents would take me to Toys R Us to get a game.  I was constantly yelled at not to run through the parking lot because as soon as car doors unlocked, I jumped out of the car like a savage beast with an unquenchable thirst for Nintendo.

Beyond the TRU's iconic store entrance, the video game aisles at TRU were vast and usually the first section visible. Games were not displayed in glass like they are today. The box art was printed on laminated cards and posted to the walls of the aisle.  You were able to lift the card to see the screenshots and summary of the game on the back. Below them was a hanging clear plastic pouch containing tickets for the game with the price on it.  You would take the ticket for the game of your choosing, bring it up to the cashier and pay, then go to a huge booth filled to the brim with games.  Behind this plexiglass fortified wonderland, there was a pimply faced teenager who would take your ticket and disappear into a sort of video game Narnia.  What felt like years later, he would emerge with your shiny new sealed NES game.  GIMME DAT

Oh how I fantasized of climbing through the pickup window to bask in the shelves and shelves of games but it could only remain a dream.  Being convicted of a felony at 9 is not a great way to start your record.

It was thrilling and at the same time, a huge gamble. The game you chose based merely on box art would be the game you were stuck with for better or worse. It could be weeks or even months before you scrounge up enough lunch\chore money for your next purchase so you had to make it count.

I've had quite a few victories and felt utter defeat (I'm looking at you Target Renegade!) so my first couple of reviews will focus on these games.

- Matsu

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo

Anticipation is a game that I played a good amount during my youth.  I think it was more the desire to be an adult than the actual game that interested my cousins and I.  I mean, look at the cover.  If you play this game, you MUST be a adult.  In our defense, this is how our parents looked in the 80's...

The game is what it says: "Nintendo's first video board game." Well, not exactly.... Othello came out the year before, but who's keeping track other than me?  This "board game" is sort of like Pictionary, except your teamate's not drawing the picture; the computer is.  To start each turn, players must roll the dice.  Each colored square you land on will have a certain category of picture and everyone must try to figure out what the computer is drawing.  

Alright computer.  I'm pickin' up what you're puttin' down.

To help you guess what the picture is supposed to be, some pictures will have the category at the top and show how many letters are in the title at the bottom.  At the higher levels and the higher difficulties, though, these hints disappear.  This can become very frustrating, especially when you see the same picture drawn multiple times.  Oh, by the way, if nobody gets the answer the computer doesn't tell you the answer.  This ain't no Jeopardy.  This frustrated the hell out of me as a child.  To make matters worse, not every picture is drawn terribly well and some are straight up hieroglyphics.

Uh... Hmmm... Head? Bad haircut? I can't even tell if that's male or female...

With each level you rise to, the pictures get harder and the hints are pulled away.  To win the game, you must guess a picture correctly from the four categories from each of three levels before your opponents do.  As an adult playing this game, it's hilariously bad.  The best is when you guess a picture right and nobody in the room had any clue of what the picture was supposed to be.  So it can still be a fun party game.  It's similar fun to the game show games on the Wii.  They're shallow, but a lot of fun with some friends and some alcohol. 

That's the most penisy looking candle I've ever seen. 

Buy or Pass

Do I think this game is for everyone? Not at all. I actually think most people will not like this game.  If you have some friends to play this game with it can be really funny, but overall it's not great.  If you're into those game show games on the Wii like The Price is Right and Minute to Win It, then you'll probably enjoy this game a bit.  Otherwise, I would have to suggest you pass it.


                                                                      Controls:   3
                                                                      Graphics:  2
                                                                      Story:      NA
                                                                      Music:       2
                                                                      Fun:          3
                                                                      Total: 10/20                        

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It Begins...

As I've scoured the internet, I've noticed that there are thousands of reviews for Mega Man, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Contra, and Metroid.  These reviews are mostly positive, as they're all fantastic games, so what's a retro gamer supposed to do when you see Sky Shark, MetalStorm, Xexyz, Elevator Action, or even Battle Kid for sale?

Join my friend and I as we attempt to find complete NES collections.  We are obsessed with sound and control accuracy, so there will be no emulation here.  We'll review every officially released, unofficially released, and homebrew game we can get our hands on.  So, let the reviewing begin!

Thanks for joining us!

- Yukon