Take on the NES Library

An 8-bit Extravaganza!



Halfway Home

Ikari Warriors is still beating me down, but I am getting much better at fighting back! In the last two weeks I have seen some steady progress in my grueling quest. Last time I predicted that I would see the end of Level 2 and start learning Level 3 over repeated attempts, and that prediction turned out to be accurate! It did take me a few more days to get the hang of Level 2 enough to complete it, but then my first attempt at Stage 3 was a really solid run. Looking back, that day in particular was a significant turning point. For whatever reason, Stage 2 was a real hurtle and after clearing it just once I can now get through it about half of the time. I still don’t know the exact enemy spawn points but I know them well enough that I can slow play the level just a bit and get through it without losing too many lives.

While the first two levels are similar in structure, the third level introduces some new wrinkles that ramp up the challenge even further. The general strategy of learning where things are in the level is still the same, but the new elements take some getting used to. It’s no different than what it was like starting from the beginning. Hopefully progress can continue to remain steady, but in case it does not this can be part of the reason why.

I am starting to get far enough into the game now where I am only able to get one or two attempts in per day. I play roughly one hour a day on average and it takes me 30 to 40 minutes to reach part way into Level 3. Time management has always been an issue for me and my project and that is going to be amplified in the coming weeks as runs start taking up to an hour each. There are days when I am pretty sharp and I wish I could spend more time playing on those days as I am more likely to break new ground when I’m playing better. Some days are a step forward and other days are a step back. I have to take the hand that I have been dealt, so to speak.

I have mentioned before that my policy for beating games more or less boils down to treating the game as if I bought it brand new on launch day. I try to adhere to this as much as possible on games I have no experience with. For Ikari Warriors, I want to admit here that I bent my rule just a little bit. I did a little research online in order to find the location of a Super Speed powerup in the first stage, and I was able to find one that I wasn’t able to locate on my own. Ikari Warriors has a selection of special powerups that only appear by shooting at specific locations. Walking in this game is slow and the Super Speed doubles my walking speed into a much more manageable pace. I have beaten the first level numerous times without having the speed boost but I wanted to have it if possible to clear the first stage faster. If I can shave even thirty seconds off of my Level 1 time, that will add up to significant time savings over possibly hundreds of future attempts. It is really only helpful for Level 1 because there is another Super Speed right at the beginning of Level 2, and it certainly does not increase my chances of making it through the stage unharmed as I seem to die just as often with Super Speed as I do without!

With the way things are going, I am guessing I will be playing Ikari Warriors for another couple of months. I am afraid of running out of secondary material to write about in the long term. I just don’t have a lot of experience with many other NES and Game Boy games that I want to cover, and I insist on putting in the time to beat the game before writing it up. I estimate that I will have fewer additional games in total than licensed NES games for this project. I have to consider that there will be large gaps just like this with other difficult or lengthy games and I want to have the right amount of new content no matter what the circumstances. I am thinking about either going back to posting every other week or spreading out the secondary content even further apart. I know that I want to keep this site active no matter what, but exactly what I will post about next is very much up in the air at this time. Let’s say that next week’s update will be a surprise for now! In the meantime I will keep chugging away at the game so we can move on to better and brighter things!

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Baby Steps

Progress on Ikari Warriors is creeping forward. There are no huge milestones to report but there are some tiny pebbles of progress at least! I reached my personal best just last night which is some point deep into Level 2. My hunch is that I got to the final segment of that stage, but until I actually clear the stage I can’t say for sure if I am really close or not. I had two other attempts yesterday that were just about as far as my best. Hopefully that means I am better handling the more random aspects of the game. That should turn into advancing my progress more quickly as I will have more opportunities to memorize the fixed enemy positions. However, Ikari Warriors has a tendency to beat me down so the next attempts may very well be worse!

I am continuing to evolve my strategy on the first level and I am at the point now where I can clear it just about every time. I am finishing it without deaths a whole lot more often too. There are still some attempts where I make horrible mistakes that contain me to the first level, and there are a few points in the stage toward the end where I am not yet consistent. Some of that is on me and some of that is on the game being mean.

Progress in a given run is tied very closely to keeping a tank. The tank gives better firepower, absorbs small bullets, and gives you an extra hit against stronger attacks. Lose the tank and the difficulty leaps up considerably. Some spots are mandatory on foot and those are the exact portions that give me problems. What’s worse is that a good chunk of the beginning of Level 2 must be done without the tank, and whenever I do reach the first tank in the level there is a decent probability of losing it right away. This initial segment currently demands the most practice.

Before my next progress report, my goal is to start learning Level 3. I think I am a few days away from beating Stage 2 for the first time. With enough repetition I should be able to begin clearing the entire first half of the game with some consistency. We shall see if my prediction comes true!

In other news, I did have a bit of distraction last week that limited my time with Ikari Warriors. Last week’s game in the NintendoAge weekly contest was Battletoads and I spent a significant amount of time playing it. Even though it is highly regarded as one of the most difficult NES games, I know the game inside and out and I can beat the game pretty easily. The contest was scored on furthest progression without warping with the tiebreaker of lowest score wins. Battletoads is difficult enough to play normally, but beating the game while keeping the score low provides a very interesting challenge. I won the exact same contest a year ago and I successfully defended my title this time around! My final score was 673,150 and as far as I know that is the lowest final score ever recorded in a warpless run of Battletoads. I’ll confidently lay claim to this unofficial world record!

Next week I will be reviewing another game! I know which one I would like to cover but I will need to set aside some time to play it. In case that falls through I have a backup already in mind. Until then, happy gaming!

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Loads of Site Updates

One advantage of having the blog format is that it is very easy to make updates to both correct information and add new content where appropriate. I have been focusing so much on writing up my recent game finishes as well as actually playing the games that I have been neglecting several updates to correct and clarify some things. I will always be picking up new and interesting information on NES games and some of that will make its way back to the blog. Now is a good time to post all the updates that I finally got around to writing!

These are the changes I made:

  • Dates played have been added to all completed NES games.
  • Difficulty rankings have been added to all completed NES games. I added them to the posts for Super Mario Bros, Contra, and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! In addition, I added a small paragraph to the end of each of those posts explaining my difficulty assessment a bit. Definitely go back and check them out!
  • The Tetris post has a new paragraph about the documentary Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters. I also included a new paragraph about my decision for the difficulty rating.
  • The Castlevania post has a new paragraph about the difficulty loops.
  • The Lemmings post has a new paragraph about the developer.

I am still working every day on Ikari Warriors. I have been getting much better at repeating Level 1 and I am starting to make headway in Level 2. If Level 2 is roughly the same length as Level 1, then I estimate that I have reached the midpoint of the second stage on my best attempt. It’s a little bit sad that I have been playing for a little over a month and I haven’t even beaten the first half of the game yet, but it just goes to show how difficult and unrelenting this NES port really is. Since I started playing I have only skipped one day of making attempts and I am going to try my best to keep at it every day until I beat it.

Next week I will have an all new full length blog post about a new topic. I have decided what the next post will be written about and I think it will be a nice diversion while I keep working on my main goal. In two weeks I will have another progress report on Ikari Warriors with hopefully some good news!