The Retro Review
Nightmare on Elm Street - NES

Hello folks, I hope you are all coping with this weather and keeping as cool as possible.

Today I have decided to swing out of my comfort zone with games and go with an iconic Horror icon of the 80’s. Yes folks, it is none other than

A Nightmare on Elm Street on the NES.

So is there a plot? Well yes dear reader there is…check it out!

"Something frightening has been happening on Elm Street lately. It seems that with each waking day another gruesome discovery is made… another neighborhood teen has mysteriously passed away into the dark stillness of the night. Everyone says it’s "natural causes," but it seems as if something (or someone) has been picking them off one by one in their sleep. It’s a horrible nightmare come true… and this nightmare has a name; Freddy Krueger.

It’s up to you and your remaining friends to search Elm Street for his bones, which have been scattered about, then collect and burn them in the High School furnace. If you can just stay awake long enough, you might be able to end Freddy’s reign of terror for good. You had better hurry though, it’s getting late and you can feel your eyelids getting heavier and heavier by the minute.”

OK so that’s the basic premise of the game, but how does it actually play?
Well you take control of the Dream Warrior children ( up to 4 players using the NES Satellite or NES Four Score ), I was playing solo so I will go from that angle for this review. Starting the game you are presented with your character on screen, able to move left, right, jump and duck while being able to punch as your offense ( you can also duck and punch at the same time as well ). The screen scrolls which is really smooth while enemies will attempt to stop you in your tracks, bats, skeletons, zombies to name a few. The one thing I will mention about these minions of hell is that they are pretty relentless in their pursuit to stop you, kill one and another will spawn immediately to replace it’s fallen brethren. Along the way you will find houses to go into which will zone you in, here you need to locate Freddy’s bones and reach the end of the level to confront the boss and gain a key. Bosses come in all sorts of forms, the first one I faced was a giant Freddy glove on a chain made of red balls, all that was needed was to punch the glove a set number of times while dodging the attacks. It’s fairly simplistic in terms of game play with it’s left and right scrolling, reminds me of one of the early Castlevania games but without the polish. Have to mention the sound track though as I really enjoyed that bouncing away in the background. Making full use of the NES sound board the music is actually very well done. Combat in this game is used via the punch button OR you can just jump and duck your way through enemies. Once you have depleted your life meter you turn into an angel and float off and re-spawn where you last died. The game is generous when it comes to continues, but they are not unlimited, so use sparingly. One of the major issues is the amount of times a bat or nasty will just knock you off a ledge and it’s instant death below.

Graphics:- Not a bad effort, it gets a bit of Ghosts and Goblins flavour in the out door levels from the bats and zombies which I thought was quite good. Backdrops from the movie are used too which you will recognize as set pieces as well, not a bad effort and colour is used well here too.

Sound:- The Music is a saving grace to the game, it’s good quality and keeps you interested, the same cannot be said for the game sounds unfortunately as they are a very bland affair.

Overall:- As a platformer goes it’s not a bad effort at all, fairly simplistic in design and tries too hard to be Castlevania but we can forgive that as it’s such a great game to benchmark against. In terms of repeat game play, it’s not brilliant, but I suspect with a full compliment of friends gathered round the NES it could be a lot more fun than it is when playing alone.

Well it’s the end of the week, time for a chuckle  :D

Well it’s the end of the week, time for a chuckle  :D

Sorry folks

With one thing or another, it’s been too physically painful to sit and write reviews this week. I will en-devour to return next week to bring you more of the reviews from the Golden Age of gaming!

Stay tuned, this is just a minor set back!  :D

Bombjack - ZX Spectrum

Happy Monday Retro fans!

Today I am going to reviewing an absolute classic game, and it is non other than:-

Bomb Jack on the ZX Spectrum!

So as you can see above, the intro screen is lovely and colourful with the title character displayed in his own logo, which is nice. The screen swaps from options to high scores. Upon selecting your preferred control device and amount of players, away you go.

Upon entering the game you are presented with a single game screen, with bombs scattered around it with your character appearing in the middle. The idea of the game is to collect all the bombs on screen before the patrolling bad guys can get their claws into you. Bad guys come in a variety of flavours, from space men to strange alien creatures while all the time you are pursued relentlessly by a bird like creature who will try and intercept you at every corner, which will prove challenging at the later stages of the game.

Now I said the aim of the game was to collect all the bombs on screen, BUT if you collect them in a particular order ( denoted by the fuse wire flashing ) then the bonus points you can get hold of get rather impressive. Now this is a great little bonus objective for you to have a go at completing, and it proves challenging even in the lower levels due to the badsters patrolling around on the platforms that may contain your flashing bomb! Life is made a little easier at intervals from a Power Pill floating around the screen which will turn enemies into smiley faces and can be collected for bonus points.

I have to say for a Spectrum game, the pace is nice and fast with very little slow down, shame there was no 128k port as music is highly lacking here, even on the intro screen. But you do get the in game sounds when leaping up and hovering around. Speaking of hovering around, by clicking the fire button on your selected control method, your character will flap his cape and slow down his descent allowing you to be able to have a better escape route from the patrols, clever feature!

Graphics:- I like the graphics for this game, they are simplistic but do the job, nice backgrounds per level and the main character animates well too, kinda has a Superman feel when leaping around the screen. Colours are well used too and nothing feels like it’s misplaced or not used to full effect.

Sound:- The sound is minimal however as it’s only 48k you can’t really hold that against the game, you get enough to be getting on with but it’s there which is the main thing. The jumping sounds and collection sounds are all in place and work well, pretty good effort really.

Overall:- Well this game cements itself into the classics hall of fame, loved it as a kid, love it now, great little game and it’s 2 player ( turn taking ) which allows for you to compete against friends to get a higher score which can be loads of fun. The Speccy does it justice enough and it’s highly addictive so you will always be coming back for more!

Streetfighter - The Movie - Arcade

Hello my fellow Retro fans, what a hot few days we have had here in the UK ( yes that wasn’t a typo, it does say UK ). I decided to have a first play on a game that has a pretty bad reputation today, and then decided to share my experience with you…

Prepare for Streetfighter - the movie on the Arcade!

As you can see from the title screen, this game takes 2 credits to start the game…2!!! now I could understand if it was a premium title, but premium this aint!

When you pop your credits in you are immediately given what sounds like a man being sick! ( Heuuuuurgh ) seriously, check it out…great start there then.

OK, so lets press player 1 start then…what do we see? 14 Fighters to choose from, ooooh OK then, not too shabby for the roster with familiar names like Ryu, Ken, Guile and the rest of the film cast all digitized and motion captured. So I choose Ryu, as he’s pretty much a good all rounder ( or at least has been from the classic series ). Game starts, it’s Ryu Vs Guile and away we go…I start by trying a couple of the classic moves such as the Hardoken fireball, it works, but looks awful, so I try the whirlwind kick…WTF??? since when does Ryu Scream out “I WANT TO KICK AN ADMIRAL” when he does this move? Now I am all for change and trying to do something different, but in this case it seems they wanted to take everything away from the classic SF II game. The Animation had me laughing so hard my screenshot button miss clicked and I got a rather odd capture of the whirlwind kick ( you can see this at the bottom of the review ). I backed up and watched in absolute hysterics as Ryu’s legs kept moving, but his upper body stayed completely motionless, very odd but highly amusing all the same. It’s such a shame because Mortal Kombat got this motion capture digital fighting down to a Tee! This is just laughable but for all the wrong reasons. Throws look awful, they just pick up and the characters go rigid, with what I can only asume is boredom. The backdrops were quite nice, but that’s all I could really say about the game in a graphical plus. I’m not sure what the developers were thinking by going to all the trouble of capturing all the actors from the film, only to have this joke of a game made, it’s like a giant hand ran across all of their faces at once and it just stinks of a cash in to me. 

Graphics:- Well the digitized fighters look nice, when they are not moving, but the movements and fighting moves are all complete crud, it’s like stop motion rather than high tech fighting, by God, Primal Rage was better than this pile of cack!

Sound:- The speech is rubbish, with most of the battle crys coming out sounding really dull and bored, or just so funny that you can’t concentrate on the game any longer. The Music is just generic dull rubbish as well, I don’t know why they even put this out to the public.

Overall:- I don’t think this needs any further explanation, it’s crap, plain and simple. The only saving grace would be the 2 player mode, where you and a friend could just execute as many moves as possible to hear the comedy voice overs for them all. Other than that, stick with the FAR superior SF II the world warrior! Van Damme must have had a high pay packet for this game, otherwise he was SCREWED! Still, check out the amusing in game shot below which is meant to be the Whirlwind kick, looks more like lord of the dance.

This could well be the best #GoT theme remixes I have heard, amazing work and all with a NESkeytar! Simply Awesome!

Gift from the Gods - ZX Spectrum

Hello everyone, I hope you are having a great week - good news, it’s the weekend soon! Hurrah!

Anyway, on with today’s review:-

Gift from the Gods on the ZX Spectrum

Lets kick off with the plot shall we?

In the game you control your character Orestes, who must avenge his father’s murder by returning to the palace of Mycenae, entering its catacombs, and solving a puzzle. The game is based loosely on a Greek myth attributed to Homer, in which Agamemnon, the father of Orestes, is murdered by his wife Clytemnestra. In the myth, Orestes along with his sister Electra, avenge their father’s death by killing their mother, Clytemnestra.

So that’s the summary of what this game is about, exciting huh?…Well, no…not really. OK, lets start on the positive first shall we? OK then..As you load up the game you are presented with a mundane options screen ( I’ll get to the good bit in a moment ), just a selection of options to control your character really, select your preferred method and away you go. SO, upon entering the first screen the first thing you will notice is how impressive the main sprite actually is, fairly large and not bad detail for a 48k game sprite in all honesty, from his helmet to his winged boots it’s all in all a pretty good effort. What you will also notice is the absence of anything else. Screens drawn large, which is a good thing, but with nothing in them, I scrolled through at least 10 screens before I saw anything at all, and that was just some “life giving” water dripping from the ceiling. Something else that is absent is any sound effects that are worth any note, the water drops down with a classic Speccy “BLIP”, and I encountered a spider which when stabbed made a fart noise and disappeared up out of sight, which was amusing for all of 0.1 seconds. This game could have been so much more, but was much less than anything. I remember seeing this on my friends ZX Spectrum +3 and for some reason I liked it back then, but hey, I was only 8 or 9 at the time. Putting this into perspective, it feels like an unfinished product. You do have the option to fly and fight as well ( not at the same time though sadly, not like there are many things to fight either ). The ease of combat and flight are a “God Send” though, just push up on your joystick or key of your choosing and you will hover up, there is no limit to how long you can fly, hit an are you can’t access and your character will drop to the ground and cover his face with his hands…pretty much how I ended my play session with this game. This was a launch title for the +3 as well, I can’t recall if that version had music or any extra effects as I only have the 48k version, so if anyone wants to enlighten me then please leave me a comment below. And that, in a nutshell is Gift from the Gods. Pretty pants but with a nice main sprite.

Graphics:- As stated before the main sprite is nice and animates well, but the rest is just bland and empty, really detracts from what could have been a corking game!

Sound:- To the point of being absent! This really is skeletal where sound is concerned, with the occasional ( and I do mean occasional ) blip or blop or fart noise, but other than that, it’s silent. I had to check my sound was working until I encountered the water droplets.

Overall:- I can see what they were trying to go for with this game, but sadly it fails on practically every level. With only a health meter which depletes slowly over time to give any real indication of danger but easily topped back up with water droplets…this game feels unfinished to me, but by all means give it a try and see how you feel about it. If you do play it, leave me a comment below and tell me what you think.

For all you Retro gamers and Game of Thrones fans…time for a mash up! :D

For all you Retro gamers and Game of Thrones fans…time for a mash up! :D

Bubble Bobble - SEGA Master System

Happy Monday folks, hope you had a great weekend. Going back to a classic today and on a classic system too.

Bubble Bobble on the SEGA Master System.

Well lets kick off and start this by saying this game is by far one of those titles that sticks in your mind when you hear the words “Bubble Bobble” but has the Master System done it any justice?

In a word - YES! it has, which I am greatly relieved about as this game really can do no wrong.  Lets start off with the general presentation of the game shall we? - I am fairly impressed to be honest, it’s not often an arcade game of this caliber gets a conversion that does it justice, I mean even the humble Spectrum did a great job of this game right? Well upon loading this game on the MS you get a great nostalgia kick on the title screen with the classic Bubble Bobble logo ( see above ). Hit that start button and away we go! Well first impressions are good, nice little pre-game ditty with the classic dragons in the bubbles ready to go. Then into the game itself, and boy is this shaping up to be good too, instant recognition of the dragons themselves ( I always liked them better as dragons - Daenerys Targaryen ). Level design is also spot on, so great job on this conversion, I’m actually having fun blasting those bad guys into bubbles and bursting them for epic lootz! Bright and colourful, the graphics really do pop out at you, which is great to see. The humble MS doesn’t get enough good credit for some of it’s game conversions, but if you are a Bubble Bobble fan, you are in for a treat! Animations are also very nice too, with the bubble blowing dragon dudes jumping and blowing bubbles all over the place it’s smooth and doesn’t cause slow down either, which is great to see. Another great feature, which if you have read my other reviews, you will know I am a great advocate of, is 2 player co-op play has been included too, so you can grab a friend and blast your way to the end boss too!

Graphics:- Well as stated, nice and smooth animations, nice bright sprites and level design bring you right into the arcade experience with this superb conversion.

Sound:- The iconic tune from the arcade is present and correct, jump noise and bubble noises have also been crammed in, it’s just pure nostalgia, and it’s great!

Overall:- With it’s password level saves, which is a great feature ( shame there was no cart save option ), but this is only a minor gripe when compared with the glossy finish this game has, and for the MS to produce the quality of the arcade is in a word - Awesome!

First Samurai - Commodore Amiga

Holy hell balls, it’s been a while! I have missed you all dearly. Time to kick start this review back into overdrive with the first review of 2014!

First Samurai from Image Works!

After witnessing his Master’s death and his entire village at the hands of an Evil Wizard ( poor Wizards, get such a bad rep! ) and barely surviving himself, the young warrior enlists the help of the Gods and the Wizard is sent hurtling into the future. This isn’t enough for our young hero and he follows the murdering bastard to the 21st century hell bent on revenge and probably a little bit of mindless slaughter along the way….

And so the game begins…

You start the game by emerging from a spirit vessel and starting your journey to find and exact revenge on said evil Wizardy bad guy, the first thing that strikes you is how damn gorgeous this game is! From the copper backdrops to the silky smooth scrolling as your character who is also amazingly animated and very well drawn fights his way with Sword and karate kicks through the landscape. I had this game back in the day when it was first released and I don’t think I appreciated it as much as when I fired it back up to write this review, it’s just a stunning game from start to finish. Bad guys come in the forms of boggled eyed bats and crows in the first level and you can vanquish them with your array of moves. What I loved about the combat is it’s so easy to master, hold down the fire button and move your joy stick in any direction to get a full range of motion from the karate kick, to over head sword cuts, it’s simply a fantastic gaming experience that you really shouldn’t miss. If you have played this game before, I recommend you give it another outing, it’s pure nostalgic pleasure to pop this game in and play it after all these years!

Graphics:- Amazing, simply…amazing! High visual detail in each level design and the main character animations are fantastic to watch, the sword swing is lovely the scrolling is brilliantly realized, just pure gold!

Sound:- Again the sound quality is amazing, from pick ups giving the “Hallelujah” sound sample to “Oh No, My Sword” when you lose your weapon. The Music is lovely too with a great bass line that fits the game so well.

Overall:- If you have not played this game then it’s a bucket list type of game, you really need to have a play, especially if you are a platforming fan, First Samurai oozes class from start to finish and even spawned a sequel - Load it, play it, love it!