Take on the NES Library

An 8-bit Extravaganza!



#127 – Shooting Range

A Zapper game with a strangely accurate title.

The title colors glow until text appears, so lame!

To Beat: Beat the Normal Game
To Complete: Get the best ending in both the Normal Game and Party Game
What I Did: Completed the game
Played: 5/17/19
Difficulty: 4/10
My Difficulty: 4/10
My Video: Shooting Range Longplay

Now that I’ve come upon yet another Zapper game already, I decided to do a little digging trying to piece together my own list of Zapper-compatible licensed NES games for tracking purposes. The unlicensed list is easy, just Baby Boomer and Chiller. For licensed games, most lists I’ve found are incomplete. Complicating things are a few games that use the Zapper partially, or worse, at one random spot in the game. Putting everything together, it looks like there are 16 licensed games that utilize the Zapper with most of them being Zapper only. Shooting Range is already the 5th Zapper game played for this blog.

Shooting Range was developed by TOSE and published by Bandai. It was released in June 1989 in North America only and is an NES exclusive. Really, that’s all the information there is on Shooting Range.

There’s no story to be found here but there are a couple of different modes to play. The Normal Game takes place over four stages where you fire at targets that appear in themed scenes. This is the main mode of the game. The other mode is called Party Game and you try and shoot as many targets as you can within the time limit. In both modes, up to four players can play alternating to see who can get the biggest score. To beat this game, you need to clear all stages in the Normal Game. There are also different ending screens depending on how many points you score in the Party Game.

Just a normal day out west.

I think Shooting Range has a double meaning here. Sure, it’s a shooting range where you fire at targets. The primary mechanic in the game is that you use both the D-pad and the Zapper at the same time, using Left and Right to “range” across a wide view while you also aim and shoot at targets. This is a cumbersome setup for me since I prefer to hold the Zapper with both hands to keep it steady. You will need to constantly pan back and forth looking for targets to shoot so you really need to play this with both Zapper and controller in hand simultaneously.

The goal of the Normal Game is simple enough. Various targets will appear on screen holding up a red and white pinwheel which is what you shoot to earn points. The bottom of the screen shows your level score and total score on the right and the level timer and energy bar on the left. You lose energy when you shoot and miss. You lose the game if you run out of time or energy, so you must be both quick and accurate. Each stage has different criteria to finish the stage and move on to the next. Upon completing each level, you earn some bonus points for any leftover time or energy.

When starting up a new Normal Game, first you select either Level 1, 2, or 3. These are not the stages themselves but more like a difficulty level. To my knowledge, the only change is how much time you have to start each stage. Levels 1, 2, and 3 give you 300, 250, and 200 seconds respectively. Next up is the scoring screen. This shows your scoring breakdown per stage, as well as any bonus points that roll up into your total score. The Stage Clearing Point area is what the point threshold is for certain stages. I confused this for actual points on my score at first. Then you go to a screen displaying all the stages in the game. Shoot anywhere to start playing a level.

During the Normal Game, shooting some targets also reveals an item. The same characters tend to drop the same things. Most of the items are just circles with letters in them. Simply shoot it to collect it. The little E boosts your energy by two bars, while the large E gives you four. A reverse E deducts a couple of energy points, so avoid them. The C gives you 100 points, while the W gives you 1000. The W is different in that it doesn’t get dropped by anyone and you will sometimes just find it. There is also an hourglass item that gives you 50 more seconds on the clock.

That middle creature flips back and forth quickly.

The first level in the game is Western themed. The goal here is to earn 5000 points, at which point the level ends abruptly. There are Native Americans, gun-slinging criminals, and flying birds for targets. Some of the birds are worth 500 points, while others are worth much fewer, depending on how they fly around. The second level is pretty similar to the first. Here you need 7000 points to clear it, but this time it is ghost house themed. There are monsters such as witches, vampires, and ghosts. One monster flips his pinwheel back and forth rapidly and it is hard to hit.

The next level is the bonus game. This one is just a single screen with no controller required. There are two rows of bottles on the wall and random ones will flash all white. Shoot them while they are all white to break them. This level ends when either all bottles are broken or you run out of time. You always get sent to the next level no matter how well you do.

The final stage takes place on the moon. There are various types of aliens to shoot at here. Instead of meeting a point threshold, as soon as the timer hits 100 seconds remaining, a large brain alien appears. It’s a boss battle! The brain floats around the whole screen in a wave-like pattern and only fully reveals its pinwheel every so often. This is a tough fight with the limited time left, but if you can beat it then you win Normal Game. If you fail here or in any other stage, you can continue, but you lose all your points in doing so. I think continues are supposed to be unlimited, but I didn’t always see it happen so I’m not sure how the continue system works. This is a short game, so once you get the last boss down you can play through the game again trying for a high score. You can enter your initials on the high score screen and see your accuracy too.

The Party Game is a much simpler mode than the Normal Game. This is just a single screen with some targets to hit. There are no items or energy, just you and the timer. Lights in the background appear and shooting them causes the pinwheel to pop up along the bottom. Shoot as many of these as you can. If you miss a pinwheel, then you need to shoot another light to restart the sequence. It’s too bad you can’t play this simultaneously with another player because it would be fun to compete for targets. Either way, try to score as high as you can before the timer runs out.

Even the floating brain has caught pinwheel fever.

This was my first time playing Shooting Range. I can’t recall if I played any of the game during cart testing. Usually with the peripheral games I boot them up to see if they run without glitches and then I put them away without trying the gameplay. I know that I watched TMR beat this game for NESMania and it was one of the last games he completed for his project. I had some familiarity with the game though I forgot most of it. This cart isn’t too hard to find and sells for around $8-$10.

This was a short game that I cleared within a couple of hours. I needed more than a few attempts to clear the final boss, but that was all. If you score high enough at the end, you earn a medal. The bronze medal is at 30,000 points, a silver is at 35,000 points, and you need 40,000 to get the gold. Now your score for the first two levels is pretty well set since those stages end by point thresholds. One tactic is to stockpile energy and cash them in for bonus points at the end, but that doesn’t always pan out and doesn’t give you near enough points anyway. The other thing you can do is play on the easiest difficulty since more time means more points at the end of the stage, even if that only adds just a tiny amount to your total. The secret to getting the gold is to earn the bonus points as shown on the scoring screen, and the only way to get them is to play the bonus level perfectly without missing. Doing so is challenging. My strategy was to go at the top row first left to right, then the bottom row. After a few bottles gone, the next ones seem to line up well and you can take them all out quickly. On my run I ended up with over 50,000 points which was above and beyond what I needed. In Party Mode, the score you want to aim for is 35,000, which I accomplished on my second try. All those attempts at To The Earth not long ago sure paid dividends!

Shooting Range is a brief Zapper experience that ultimately doesn’t add up to much. It is interesting that it has different themes for each level. Even the Party Game has a different feel than the Normal Game’s levels. The music is mostly forgettable but not bad. The controls are a little wonky for a Zapper game. They aren’t difficult to comprehend by any means, but I simply didn’t find it that comfortable to have to use both the controller for scrolling and the Zapper for firing at the same time. Thankfully the game was easy and short enough that it wasn’t a huge issue until the end boss. However, the controls combined with the short play time makes Shooting Range not that great of a game.

#127 – Shooting Range (Normal Game)

#127 – Shooting Range (Party Game)


#115 – Street Cop

Just your everyday police officer.

Street Cop is a good cop.

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 2/27/19 – 3/2/19
Difficulty: 5/10
My Difficulty: 4/10
My Video: Street Cop Longplay

We are dipping back into the world of Power Pad games for this one. Street Cop by name alone would not provide any indication that this is meant for the Power Pad. It seems to me like it would be some kind of action or adventure game instead. It turns out that’s exactly what it is! There is nothing else like this game on the NES and I’m excited to share it with you today.

Family Trainer: Manhattan Police is the sixth game in the Family Trainer series of Power Pad games on the Famicom. The game was developed by Sonata (later known as Human Entertainment) and published by Bandai. The Famicom version came out in August 1987. The NES version, renamed Street Cop, was released in June 1989. The NES versions of the Bandai Power Pad games did not appear in the same order of release as Japan. Super Team Games, for instance, was the next game in the Family Trainer series in Japan but appeared on NES several months before Street Cop debuted.

Street Cop is an action/adventure game that uses the Power Pad controller. You play the role of “Little Ben,” a new police officer fresh out of the academy. He always hoped from a young age to be a detective, and you get to help make his dreams come true. In this game, you take to the streets of Manhattan. There are six stages in the game, each one featuring a bad guy on a wanted poster. You beat the game once you arrest all six main criminals.

Gonna take a walk in the park real quick.

Before we get into the game description, let’s recap briefly on the setup for this game. You will plug a standard controller into the first controller port on the NES. Then plug in the Power Pad to the second controller port. This game uses Side B of the Power Pad. In this configuration, there are three rows of four buttons each. All buttons are numbered from 1 to 12. The first row contains buttons 1 to 4, the middle row is 5 through 8, and the last row is 9 to 12.

Here is how you control Little Ben with the Power Pad. The neutral position is standing on buttons 6 and 7, right in the middle of the Power Pad. Alternate presses by either walking or running on those buttons to move forward. There are three different running speeds depending on how quickly you move. If you jump in place, Little Ben will jump, but you need to be standing on both buttons before you jump and sometimes it doesn’t respond like you would expect. You face either left or right and you are locked into that direction. To turn around, step once on either 10 or 11 in the bottom row. To move sideways, step on either 5 or 8 to sidestep one time in that direction. You will move in or out on the screen depending on the direction you are facing. If you need to walk into a building or down an alleyway, turn right by standing on 3 and 7 or turn left by standing on 2 and 6. The idea is you need to turn your body and face in the direction you want Little Ben to turn. The corner buttons are for using items. Thrown items can be tossed by pressing 1. Little Ben wields a baton at the bad guys by stepping on 4. Either 9 or 12 is used for any secondary items you may be holding. You also have the option to use the controller for a couple of options. Press B to use throwing items and press A to swing the baton.

Not sure throwing bombs is legal, but whatever.

All six levels have similar structure. In each stage, you see a wanted poster with the main bad guy you need to arrest. At the bottom of the wanted poster are images of some cohorts of the criminal along with a count. First you need to track down and capture all the cohorts. Then you will be able to track down the primary baddie. Some levels have two different types of cohorts. Each stage has a different layout you must explore.

The bottom of the screen shows information you need. On the left is the stage timer and Little Ben’s health meter. You get ten minutes to clear each stage. In the middle is the map of the level. Your position is represented as a blue dot, while an X appears where a bad guy is located. The right side shows how many cohorts are left to track down, as well as ammo for any items you find.

Capturing criminals can prove to be a little tricky. You can only go after one at a time. If his or her position shows up on the map, you first have to chase them down. When you catch up and see them, then you have to line yourself up with the criminal. The city streets have three running lanes. You can do the sidestep maneuver to change between those lanes at any time. The bad guys also switch lanes frequently. Once you get lined up with them, then you need to draw close enough to use either your throwing items or your baton. While enemies move relatively slowly, it’s tough sometimes to get everything to line up while navigating the controls. An easier way to catch a criminal is to knock them down by running into them at full speed. It doesn’t always trigger, but it works often enough that I found it to be the preferred method of fighting. Many enemies take more than one hit to defeat. Sometimes it works out where I can run into them once, and when they get up they walk right into me so I can baton them.

There is some straight up platforming here.

Each stage has a unique criminal to capture as well as some minor differences in the gameplay. In Stage 1, you capture Snatcher Joe. This is a basic level with only one strip of street to explore. This is a great introduction to the controls with plenty of time to meet your goal and get acquainted with the movement. As you walk through the city, there will be other pedestrians walking around, but you don’t interact with them and just walk right past them. It should be clear enough who is good and who is bad. Along the way you may find soda cans. Just walk into them to collect them, then press 1 to throw them. This simple stage does have one little trick to it. You might meet up with the enemy on the map but don’t see him walking around. In that case, he is hiding in one of the trash cans on the top row. Go up to the trash can and smack it with the baton to lure the bad guy out. He won’t hide again unless he goes off screen. Once all the cohorts are gone, then track down Snatcher Joe. He takes several hits to capture.

Stage 2 has you looking for Speedy Louis. This stage is more expansive than the first one, with a larger map connected with various alleyways. You will need to learn the turning controls to proceed down those paths. Another thing you need to learn is watching yourself on the map to make sure you are going the way you expect. When on the top row of the map, if you run to the right for example, your position on the map moves left instead. Just something to be aware of. This stage introduces a couple of new elements. There are some sewer entrances as holes on the street. Avoid them. Falling into one is always a setback and there is nothing down there for you to find at all. If you get stuck there, you need to move all the way to the right, jump onto the rightmost step, and then jump again to get out of the sewer. This level also introduces some other powerups. A clock adds one minute to the stage timer, up to the initial ten minutes. Picking up a can with a heart on it refills a portion of your health meter. Specific to this stage, you will find throwable bombs used as projectile weapons. One guy also holds a V-Max Turbo Drink. Just having this in your possession lets you run fast enough to chase down Speedy Louis.

You can just walk in and take the mustard.

In Stage 3, you must locate and capture Animal S. This stage consists of two long streets connected by a warehouse. If the enemy shows up on the other side of the street, then you need to cross through the warehouse. That section is a pure side-scrolling area with a single lane through to the other side. You’ll have to jump over boxes to get across. This stage has oranges you can pick up for throwing weapons. You also find a hyper drink useful for capturing Animal S. Animal S is one tough character. He has a charge attack that knocks you down on contact. He is very tough in a straight up fight. Here you will want to press 9 or 12 to use the hyper drink. You will turn red for a short time and Animal S can’t hurt you. Throwing items are also effective, especially when the drink effects wear off.

In Stage 4, you go after Big Burger. He can be found at the top of a skyscraper under construction and you will need to climb up after him one floor at a time. This level features stores that you can enter. Go inside and look for useful items. Mustard is the throwing item of choice in this stage. You can also find dog whistles in pet stores. Pressing one of the rear corner buttons blows the dog whistle, calling a dog on screen that attacks any bad guy in sight.

Stage 5 features Bloody Betty. She likes to shop so you will find her in one of the stores. You’ll need to explore all the doors here looking for items and her cohorts. The special items in this stage are throwing bombs and dog whistles. This level also features the subway. If you find Bloody Betty but let her get away, she will escape to another town. In that case, you will use the subway to travel over there, but you’ll have to search for her and defeat more cohorts all over again.

Bosses can be hard to find and tricky to beat.

The final stage squares you off against Don Mayonecheese. This level is a tricky one. There are three separate towns in this stage connected by the subway. Each town has a hideout where you might find the final boss. First you need to defeat the baddie that holds the key to the hideout. Then you can enter the hideout and search for Don. Of course, you have to defeat all the cohorts first per usual, both on the streets and in the hideout. You’ll be able to find bullets for your gun in case of a shootout as well as dog whistles in the stores. However, neither of those are effective against Don Mayonecheese. You’ll have to use all of your skills plus a little luck to finish the game.

There are no passwords, saving, or lives in this game. You can run out of health or run out of time, and then it’s Game Over. The good news is that you have unlimited continues. The bad news is that, if you are like me, you will need a rest break in between attempts. This is a more cerebral game than the other Power Pad games I’ve played so far, but it can still wear you out with all the footwork needed.

This was my first time playing through Street Cop. I didn’t bother testing out any of the Power Pad games beyond making sure they booted to the title screen. I remember watching TheMexicanRunner play this game so I already had an idea of how it works. This is an uncommon game that sells for around $20-$25. The only copy I’ve ever seen in person was the one I bought. I think I snagged it for around $8. This was at a game store where the owner didn’t yet understand how to value games using the Internet, so I ended up buying several uncommon games there for great prices before he caught on.

This is why he really wanted to be a cop.

I am glad that this ended up being a Power Pad game that I didn’t have to completely exhaust myself to play. I can’t help but break a sweat playing these games, but Street Cop took longer for me to get to that point. I even played it while I was a little bit sick and that seemed to have no effect on me. Once you get a handle on the controls, this game isn’t too difficult. You are free to pause with Start at any time to take a quick break. The enemies move slower to compensate for your lack of reaction time. The only real danger was running out of time, which happened a few times. I only had to continue at most twice per level before I cleared it. When I recorded my video longplay, I didn’t need to use any continues and only took small pause breaks in between levels. The only blemish on the run was skipping a cohort in the fourth stage. I was able to find the final boss in the second building I tried. Quite a solid run overall. I noticed I have the best completion time for this game (I can’t imagine that many people would try speedrunning it) so I have submitted it to speedrun.com as a new world record! I wonder how many more accidental speedruns I am going to get out of this project.

Street Cop is a basic action game. The graphics are simplistic but carry the idea well. The music is fine, nothing special. The controls work well and are more responsive than I would have guessed. The only tricky move is jumping which doesn’t always trigger. The gameplay is simplistic, but that’s what you want when playing a game with your feet. This is a notable game because this is the only game on the NES, and maybe one of the only games ever, with this kind of control scheme and gameplay merged together. There is strategy and exploration in what amounts to a fitness game. I think the developers did a great job of varying your goals and designing the stages. Sure, combat is usually the same, repetitive action, but there’s just enough variance and some clever boss encounters to make this game worthwhile. Good on the developers to try something different while getting it to work well. While it is tough to recommend any of the Power Pad games today, if you happen to own one and are looking for something that’s a little bit different, I think you might have fun with this game.

#115 – Street Cop


#76 – The Rocketeer

A game based on a movie about a guy and a jetpack sounds about right.

One of the nicest looking NES title screens so far!

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 3/4/18
Difficulty: 4/10
My Difficulty: 4/10
My Video: The Rocketeer Longplay

It’s already starting to become difficult writing introductions for some of these games. In this case, I don’t have any connection to The Rocketeer. I haven’t read the comics the character came from, nor did I even know they existed until today. I have heard of the movie but haven’t seen it. The NES game doesn’t do anything new when compared to games I’ve already covered. I’m sure the comics and film are enjoyable. I thought the game was enjoyable. Lacking any connection, it’s hard to know exactly what to say. Maybe The Rocketeer is something you have fond memories of. If I can help you stir up some nostalgia and say some good words about this game, that will make it all worth it.

The Rocketeer is a superhero created by Dave Stevens. He first appeared in Starslayer by Pacific Comics in 1982. Stevens sold the film rights for The Rocketeer the next year, but creative differences and rights changes kept any sort of movie dormant for a long time. Eventually, Walt Disney Pictures decided to take on The Rocketeer, though they insisted on making several changes and the ensuing negotiations delayed the film even further. After many script revisions, The Rocketeer released in theaters in June 1991. It received mixed reviews and was viewed as a financial disappointment. There have been rumors of a reboot as recently as 2017, and a Disney animated series inspired by The Rocketeer is currently in production and slated for a 2019 release.

There were two video games based on and called The Rocketeer. The NES game was released in May 1991, surprisingly one month ahead of the movie release. It was developed and published by Bandai. It is exclusive to North America only. The developer NovaLogic released a PC game in December 1991 which was later ported to the Super Nintendo in May 1992. The PC/SNES game is a collection of minigames based on the Rocketeer and is a different game than the NES version.

I’d say the cutscene graphics are shockingly good.

The Rocketeer on NES is a side-scrolling platformer with its story based on the movie. You play the role of stunt pilot Cliff Secord in 1930’s Los Angeles. He discovers a rocket pack hidden inside the cockpit of a biplane. With the help of his mechanic Peevy, they fashion a helmet to go along with the rocket with the intent to keep and use it. However, mobsters sent by movie star Neville Sinclair pursue both Cliff and Peevy in order to steal the rocket pack. Sinclair captures Cliff’s girlfriend Jenny to help convince Cliff to return the rocket pack. The six chapters of the NES game follow this and the rest of the story.

The controls are typical of this kind of game. Use the D-pad to walk left and right and press Down to duck. Cliff can jump with the A button and attack with the B button. The basic attack is a punch, but there are other weapons he can use. Press Select to switch weapons. Start pauses the game. If Cliff has enough fuel, he can also fly. To do this, press A to jump and then press A again before he reaches the top of his jump. This engages the rocket pack and now you can move Cliff in all directions with the D-pad alone. Cliff falls if he runs out of fuel, but you can drop early by holding Down and pressing A.

The top left corner of the screen contains a small status bar. On top you see your ammo count. Underneath that is a picture of your currently selected weapon. At the bottom of the bar there is a red meter on the left and a gray meter on the right. The red meter is Cliff’s health, and the gray meter is his fuel level. You can have up to eight bars of health and eleven bars of fuel. Pretty simple.

Cliff has several weapons already equipped and they all share from the same pool of bullets. You can press Select to cycle through each weapon, skipping the ones where you don’t have enough ammo. The default punch attack doesn’t require any ammo. The pistol uses one bullet and fires a slow, straight projectile. The rifle requires two bullets, and although it is just as powerful as the pistol, the shots travel farther and much faster. The spray gun costs three bullets and shoots a three-way shot. Grenades cost five bullets and are thrown forward in an arc. Finally, the bazooka costs a whopping fifteen bullets. You won’t use it often, but it is very effective against large bosses.

There’s plenty of walking, punching, and shooting to go around.

There are item pickups to help Cliff in his journey. Red hearts restore one point of health, and purple hearts give a full health refill. A pack of bullets adds ten to your ammo count, and a pack of silver bullets adds twenty ammo. Finally, the gas can restores four units of fuel. All of these items can be found lying on the ground. Sometimes, defeated enemies will drop a red heart, a bullet pack, or a fuel can.

There are several different enemies that get in your way. Standard black enemies just run at Cliff. They often come out of doorways in the background and they just keep coming out one at a time if you stick around. Red soldiers stand in place and fire bullets. You can duck underneath his fire, but usually he stands behind a crate or something and you have to get close to take him out. Purple soldiers are annoying. They kneel on the ground and fire fast shots, so they are tricky to defeat without getting hit. Some enemies have rocket packs of their own. There are other types of traps and devices such as cannons, mines, and even tiny tanks.

The whole game is structured by a chapter system that feels a lot like Ninja Gaiden. Between chapters or major sections of the game, there are cutscenes that drive the story. You can speed up the text by holding A, or just press Start to skip them entirely. Each level may contain sublevels and sometimes there are story segments between these scenes within a chapter. Some chapters end in a boss fight. Of the four bosses in the game, two of them are large encounters with your full complement of weaponry. The other two are smaller scale encounters and you are limited in what you can use to fight. The game does a decent job of explaining these forced limitations through the story segments.

You can fight a 1930’s helicopter.

Cliff only gets one life, and if you die, you get to see a cutscene of his death. You will probably see that a lot in the game. The Rocketeer has unlimited continues and you get sent back to either the start of the chapter or sometimes to a scene in the middle of a chapter. Not only that, but there is a password system too. You get a password between every chapter. The passwords are nine digits long, broken up into three groups of three digits. Maybe they are a little too long for this kind of game, but not too bad.

This was my first time playing The Rocketeer. I remember when I tried out this game after I bought it. I missed a jump in the first chapter that sent me back a distance and that’s when I stopped playing. I don’t see this game around much, but I’d still say it’s a common NES title. I own a complete copy of The Rocketeer that I acquired piecemeal. Several years ago, I purchased a nice lot of boxed NES games which included The Rocketeer. All of the games in that lot were missing the manual so I must have acquired one separately.

I ended up beating the entire game on my first attempt. I have gotten back into the habit of waking up in the middle of the night to do some chores and play NES before going back to bed. This night I fell asleep early, so I had more time to work with than normal without feeling like a zombie the next day. It took me right around two hours to beat the game blind. I knew there were only six chapters in the game but I didn’t think I’d get through it all right away. The next evening, I recorded my longplay which took over an hour. I got it done before midnight, so I managed to beat The Rocketeer within one calendar day.

There’s not as much flying around as you might expect.

I rated The Rocketeer a 4/10 in difficulty, but the game is a bit more challenging than the score would let on. Some of these areas run on for a while and it doesn’t take much to run out of health and have to start all over. You will need to memorize the levels and enemy points, but lucky item drops can be the difference in surviving to the next chapter. There were a couple of areas where I survived for long stretches with almost no extra health. There is a gradual increase in difficulty as the game progresses, though I had more trouble with Chapter 5 than the final level. Of course, all these issues are heavily mitigated with infinite continues and passwords. Also, if I could beat the game in one night without having played it past the first area before, it can’t be that hard.

Here are some techniques I came up with while playing The Rocketeer. I tend to use only punches until I reach about 50 bullets. Then I switch over to the pistol. It’s cheap to use and gives you much longer range, and if enough enemies continue dropping bullets, you can keep using it for a long time. I used the Bazooka for a couple of the boss battles. Other than that, I didn’t bother with any of the other weapons because they simply weren’t as cost efficient. The standard runner enemies are timed to pop out of doorways just as you cross their spawn point if you always run full speed. I learned that the hard way. Whenever I see a doorway or somewhere I think an enemy will appear, I pause for a bit. Another thing I learned is that enemies that shoot at you will stop briefly whenever they get hit. If you can get near an enemy and hit them, you should be able to keep shooting or punching and they won’t retaliate. Finally, I was not able to consistently get the hang of beating the purple enemies out in the open without getting hit at least once. What seemed to work the most often is jump the first two bullets, immediately crouch and fire, and then jump the third bullet. That stuns the enemy and you can beat him quickly after that. I started figuring that out near the end of my second playthrough. It’s tough to do, but I don’t have a simpler way other than using heavier firepower.

I think The Rocketeer is a pretty decent game. The graphics and cutscenes are all nicely detailed and look really good on the NES. The music is good, although not super memorable. The controls are simple but effective. There are a few issues. One complaint I have is that jetpack movement feels very slippery. I had a hard time lining up with targets while airborne. Some of the jumps are a little too long and they are easy to misjudge and miss. Enemies spawning right on top of you is mean design, and it happens all the time if you aren’t paying attention. This game can be fun, but it feels ordinary. This is one of the best examples of an average game I can think of. If you like most NES games, you’ll probably like this one too.

#76 – The Rocketeer


#72 – Chubby Cherub

An early third-party NES game featuring a fat angel? Why not?

Nice melody here!

To Beat: Finish Stage 12
Played: 1/21/18 – 1/30/18
Difficulty: 8/10
My Difficulty: 8/10
Video: Chubby Cherub Longplay

I know this is just me, but when people refer to an NES game as a bad game, it piques my curiosity. It’s tough to be objective about this sort of thing. I would guess most gamers out there don’t care about the NES and that most games on the console to them are bad aside from a few well known titles. Think Super Mario or Mega Man. I’m far on the other end of the spectrum where I believe most NES games are good and worth looking at, with only a small handful of games that I don’t enjoy. Chubby Cherub has the reputation of a bad game from my view of things, and look, I totally get it. I’m not going to go to bat for Chubby Cherub and defend it as some misunderstood masterpiece, far from it. What I will try to outline here is both some context and gameplay ideas that are at least interesting.

The history of this game begins with Obake no Q-taro, a defunct Japanese manga written by Fujiko Fujio. Originally running from 1964-1973, it features an obake named Q-taro who likes to fly around and cause mischief. An obake is like a ghost in Japanese culture. I’m not well versed in all of this, but I think this is enough to carry the idea. There were three separate anime series all roughly two years in length beginning in 1965 with the first series and ending in 1987 with the last. There was also a full-length anime film in 1986, and a much shorter film the following year. Unless there is some future reboot in store, that’s the last the world has seen of Q-taro.

Obake no Q Tarou: Wanwan Panic is the Famicom game based on the manga. The game was developed by TOSE and published by Bandai. It was released in Japan in December 1985. The NES version of the game was renamed to Chubby Cherub, also published by Bandai in October 1986. Gameplay is identical between the two versions, but the localized version replaced Q-taro with a flying angel.

A weird choice for a protagonist.

This is a good time to talk about the difference between 3-screw and 5-screw NES carts. Early cartridges were held together by five screws, one in each corner and one in the middle. These are small, flathead screws so you can take the game apart easily if you really want to. Sometime in 1987, Nintendo redesigned the cartridge shells to have interlocking tabs on the top of each cartridge beside the end label, removing the need for two of the corner screws. Some early 3-screw carts still have flathead screws before they were replaced with the hexagonal security screws used in Nintendo cartridges for many years. The reason I bring this up now is that Chubby Cherub is one of earliest NES games so it is a 5-screw cart. In fact, Chubby Cherub was not reprinted after the switch to 3-screw cartridges so it is only available as a 5-screw cart. There are only a few NES games like this.

Chubby Cherub is a side-scrolling action game. Our hero is but a simple angel who just wants to eat delicious food and help his friends. Alas, this cruel, evil world stands in the way of helping his friends. They are trapped in buildings or held hostage by a burglar and only Chubby Cherub can save them. To get to them, simply work your way from left to right to reach the end of each level while avoiding all kinds of dangers like smoke, birds, and barking dogs. You must complete all twelve levels to beat Chubby Cherub.

The controls take a little getting used to. Walking is easy enough. Just press Left or Right to move. You can tell right away that this is an early NES game because the B button is used for jumping. Yuck. Jumps are loopy and slow, and he always jumps the same height. You have full horizontal control while jumping. However, if either you walk off a ledge or are positioned inside a floor tile at the apex of your jump, you will be locked into place horizontally as you slowly fall to solid ground. Hold Down and press B when standing to fall in this same manner through high walkways. If you are holding B at the top of your jump, you begin flying in place. Now you can move in all eight directions. While flying you can travel freely through everything except completely solid blocks, and you move faster to boot. However, you can’t fly forever so you need to keep that in mind. The A button fires what the game manual calls the Gau-Gau cannon. I have no idea what that is supposed to be, but it looks to me like a heart-shaped vomit attack. You have to collect ammo before you can shoot and it is only effective against a few enemy types.

This is way too mischievous.

There is a lot of information on the status bar at the top of the screen. On the left side, you see your score at the top and hearts underneath it which denote your extra lives. In the middle is your power meter followed by how much Gau you have and the current stage number. On the right side is the level timer and the condition for earning bonus points.

The most important facet of Chubby Cherub is managing your power meter. It decreases as you play, acting as its own timer. Run out of power and you lose a life. You can restore a portion of the power meter by eating food that is strewn throughout the stages. This mechanic is better known from Adventure Island. Flying uses up power more quickly, and you have to maintain a certain amount of power to remain airborne. Now flying is the preferred way to get around in Chubby Cherub, so the pacing in the game is dictated by how often you can find food in order to keep flying. It turns out you can get through a lot of the game just by flying.

Dogs are the most dangerous enemy in the game. Q-taro in the manga is deathly afraid of dogs, so they pose the largest threat in Chubby Cherub by design. There are two different sizes of dogs and their movement patterns and aggression vary mostly by color. Recognizing these patterns and learning by experience are crucial to survival. The worst kind of dogs are the ones that bark. Dog barks are represented as icons with letters inside of them. Small dogs launch B’s for “bark” while big bulldogs fire two W’s for “wan-wan,” the Japanese onomatopoeia for dog barking. It’s a clever touch, and I’m proud to be able to use the word onomatopoeia in this blog in the proper context! Anyway, dog barks are aimed shots that move faster than you, and they are deadly to the touch. Certain groupings of dogs are among the most difficult parts of the game.

Why does the food float so high?

There are some items to help you in Chubby Cherub. The aforementioned food is all over the place, refilling your power meter and giving you between 10 and 50 points per piece depending on type. Lollipops are a much larger food item that gives you 100 points and four shots of the Gau-Gau cannon. You can only hold up to 9 Gau in reserve, but this is your one weapon to fight back against the dogs since they are the only enemy hurt by Gau. Sometimes collecting a food item generates a P icon above it. Collecting it not only gives you 200 points, but it also restores power and makes you invincible for several seconds. The angel blinks during this period and you can move through any enemy freely with one catch. Getting hit by a dog bark causes it to bounce off you harmlessly but you lose any remaining invincibility. A good strategy is to use your invincibility frames to get right up in a dog’s face to hit it with Gau.

There are other enemies present that are not affected by Gau. There are crows, birds, smoke, and balloons that defeat you with a simple touch. Balloons are the weirdest enemy concept I’ve seen in a while. What did Chubby Cherub ever do to them? There are also Chow Chow dogs but they aren’t affected by Gau and don’t bark at you. I don’t get that either! These enemies have their own patterns to deal with, some with multiple patterns. It’s a dangerous world out there.

All levels share a similar structure. About halfway through each stage you will encounter a rectangular stop sign. This freezes the scrolling and the objective is to collect all food on screen to make a special item appear on the left. Collect that item to get 500 points and then you can continue through the rest of the stage. Your friend needs to be rescued at the end of the level, and this is accomplished in one of two ways. Most stages end with a building or two and a large amount of food in front. Each piece of food opens the window above it when you grab it. Your friend is randomly hidden behind one of these windows and finding him or her ends the stage. But beware, there are also two aggressive dogs hidden behind these windows too. The manual gives good advice not to collect the food while moving upward because if there’s a dog hidden there you will run into it right away and lose a life. Every third stage ends in a simple boss fight with a burglar. He walks in from the right to the center of the screen and begins tossing bombs all over the place. The burglar drops a dog bone on his walk to the middle of the screen, and you need to grab this and throw it at the burglar with A. This causes dogs to appear from the left that scare the burglar away, saving your friend.

People should not be allowed to have all these bombs.

The boss battle with the burglar also indicates a change to the bonus point incentive. Every group of three levels out of the twelve has a unique way to earn bonus points at the end of the level. In stages 1-3, you earn 40 points for every piece of food eaten. You get a bonus for time remaining in stages 4-6. Levels 7-9 give you 200 points for each dog you knock out with Gau. Stages 10-12 give you 200 points for every hidden jewel you find, which is a special item unique to those stages. I think it’s a nice way to switch up your secondary objective.

The stage timer is also worth mentioning. Unlike a standard counter, it represents time on a clock. Stages start at 8:00am and you lose a life if you don’t finish the level by 8:00pm. The minutes tick by quickly, which is unrealistic given how slow you move in the game. The one neat thing about the clock is that every hour the background color palette changes a little bit to help indicate the passing of time. It’s something you might not recognize right away while playing. I think it’s clever given the age of this game.

There are some special areas in the game. Later levels have factories in them with smoke stacks. The puffs of smoke that rise out of these are deadly. Sometimes a ring of smoke will come out instead of a puff. Be very careful because this is still deadly if you touch the top of it, but if you touch the bottom of it instead, it will carry you with it up into heaven. This area is littered with cakes that give you a whopping 500 points each as well as crows that try to knock you down. This is typically a single screen bonus area, but every now and then heaven scrolls to the right. There are more cakes and you can really rack up points here, but even better is that you can bypass much or all of the stage below if you can keep going. It’s not clear to me what triggers the scrolling heaven, but it’s super useful. I have read you can get it to scroll if you collect the cakes from left to right, but that didn’t seem to work when I tried it. I think the trick is that you have to go into heaven before 9:00am, but I couldn’t trigger it enough times to narrow it down.

Up, up, and away!

On the flip side, there is also a hell area. Falling down a pit sends you to hell instead of dying like you would in most games, but I’m not exactly sure you’re better off this way. Hell is a single screen level completely shrouded in darkness. You begin on the left side stripped of both your power meter and any Gau you brought in. There are two chow chows above you, a regular dog on the bottom, and a bulldog blocking the white exit door on the upper right. There’s a lollipop in the middle to give you some Gau. You can’t fly here so you have to jump on invisible blocks in order to knock out the bulldog and reach the exit. Of course, the bulldog barks at you when you get close, but at least the small dog keeps quiet. Dying in hell simply resets the room with no loss of life, so you are forced to keep trying until you can make it out of there. Or reset the console, I guess. It’s a tough room but the layout is consistent. Eventually the enemies will cooperate and let you through. If you play well enough, you shouldn’t ever see hell anyway.

Chubby Cherub is a tough game. You begin the game with three lives and there are no continues. You earn an extra life at 10,000 points and again for every 20,000 points scored after that. The twelve stages are pretty short but they are full of enemies that kill you in one hit. You earn points at a slow rate and therefore earn lives slowly too. This is a game that takes a lot of practice and a fair amount of luck to beat.

This was my first time playing Chubby Cherub. I collect Famicom a little bit and I had a cart of Obake no Q Tarou: Wanwan Panic before I recently sold it. The Famicom title is very cheap, even for international buyers, but Chubby Cherub is much more expensive. Today it sells for around $70 cart only, and you have to spend a few hundred dollars if you want a complete in box copy. I bought my cart on eBay in 2014 for $30 plus shipping, which was a little under market value then. It’s costly because it was a low print run released before the NES really exploded in popularity.

Seriously, how are you supposed to get through?

It felt like I really struggled to beat this game when it only took me a little over a week to get it done. There’s a high level of difficulty right off the bat. On the very first screen, there is a highly active dog roaming around and you move so slow that death is likely for the first time player. Barking dogs are challenging to avoid anyway let alone the first few times you encounter them. Even with flying all the time, the first few levels are still hard. I found the difficulty decreased in the middle stages before ramping back up again at the end. Heaven shows up in those middle stages which is a great way to get some extra lives. At least then you get more of a chance at the later levels. It might have taken me 20-30 tries to beat the game. My longplay video was the first time I beat it. I had a few unrecorded runs that reached the final level, including one where I lost my last life to the burglar at the end. Sadly, there is no true ending to the game. It continues on to Stage 13, but the later levels are identical to the earlier ones. Chubby Cherub will loop for as long as you can keep going, but clearing only one loop is enough to consider it finished.

Chubby Cherub has a flow to it that I can appreciate. This is getting into spoiler territory here, both this and the next paragraph, so even if you don’t care (and why would you?) you’ve been warned. The game is broken up nicely into the groups of three stages. The first three stages are the introductory levels where you learn all about the dogs and basics of flying and all that. You may even get your first taste of hell in Stage 3. The next three levels give you no Gau at all, but also there are no barking dogs to deal with either. This was the breather I really needed and I beat all these levels on my first try. Stages 7-9 is like the advanced version of Stages 1-3. There are plenty of dogs here to deal with, including several in a row that bark. There are fewer food items here so you also need to cope with not flying in some spots. It’s a big jump in difficulty and Stage 8 was a hurdle for a few days. The designers had one last nasty trick for the final set of stages. I mentioned in the bonus section that these levels have jewels that give you bonus points. The jewels are hidden and you need to touch invisible spots to make them appear. Then you collect the jewels to make the food appear. This is the only way to get food in these levels, and what’s worse is that some jewels don’t reveal any food at all. At least the jewels and their triggers are always in the same places. It’s just mean because you are used to flying all over and now you have to switch gears and play it more like a platformer with worse movement just to survive.

Pray you never have to experience this screen.

I developed a few techniques in order to beat the game. One annoying thing I noticed right away is that any dog knocked out with Gau will fall off the screen but you can still get hurt by them in this state. At first I thought this was a programming bug, but it turns out this has a big benefit. Defeated dogs technically stay active and you can get hit them again with Gau for 1000 extra points. If I lined up with the bottom of the dog, I could sometimes hit it twice while falling. Now you do have to be careful not to use up all your Gau for when you need it to survive, but using excess Gau can net you a lot of points and extra lives that are a big help. I also figured out a consistent way of taking out barking dogs. Their AI is set up so that they won’t bark at you if you are directly above or below them. The trick is that you come at them from above and line up so that you hit the top of the dog with Gau. If you come at them from below, this trick does not work. You can also bait a moving, barking dog above you to fall off a ledge so that you can take them out quickly before they land and bark directly into your face. The last bit of advice is that you should always quick kill the burglar. As soon as he enters the screen, you should be flying already. Swoop around behind him and pick up the bone, and then let it loose as soon as he stops walking. You will still have to dodge some bombs, but this fight is a lot worse if you play it safe.

Chubby Cherub is an aged platformer that doesn’t hold up well today. It’s slow paced, for one. The controls are not intuitive. The graphics are basic and don’t vary much over the course of the game, and you need experience to tell which parts are solid blocks and which ones are passthrough ledges. You are at a major disadvantage against the most prevalent enemy type in the game. That hell area is just plain evil. Now it’s not all terrible. There are only a few simple songs in the game, but I must admit, they are catchier than they should be. I will give Chubby Cherub credit for introducing some hidden complexity to some of its systems that I wasn’t expecting, including the special ways to boost your score. Both discovering and exploiting these morsels of assistance was rewarding and breathed some life into this otherwise lackluster title. I’m not saying you should play this game, but even primitive games by NES standards can have some good ideas worth illuminating.

#72 – Chubby Cherub


#68 – Super Team Games

Great, another exhausting Power Pad game!

Some balloons burst to get you started.

To Beat: Win all four events in single player
To Complete: Win all events on the highest difficulty
What I Did: Beat all events on the lowest difficulty
Played: 12/21/17 – 12/28/17
Difficulty: 7/10
My Difficulty: 7/10
Video: Super Team Games – All Events

Another Power Pad game already? I just finished World Class Track Meet not even a week before this. There are only a handful of Power Pad games that reached the NES, and it is just dumb luck that we get two such games almost back to back. This may have been a good thing here since my Power Pad muscle memory from the previous game carried over to this one. I needed that because Super Team Games is significantly more challenging than World Class Track Meet.

Super Team Games was developed by Sonata (who would later become Human Entertainment) for release in Japan in November 1987. It was originally published by Bandai, and it was the seventh game in their Family Trainer series. Nintendo published the NES release in November 1988, branded as a Power Pad game. It did not include any Family Trainer or Family Fun Fitness branding, just like World Class Track Meet. This was the final game of the Famicom’s Family Trainer series to reach North America.

Super Team Games is a running race game where you compete in different types of events and try to beat your opponent. There are several smaller events that are arranged into larger obstacle courses. There are several different modes for single player, two players, and two teams of players. Since multiplayer modes are competitions against each other, only the single player modes count for beating Super Team Games. There are four different obstacle courses in single player mode, and when you win all of them you have won the game.

You gotta start jumping pretty early.

This Power Pad game uses Side B, which contains blue buttons on the left and red buttons on the right, all individually numbered from 1 to 12. In single player, we are only concerned with the blue buttons. The top row buttons are 1 and 2, the middle row buttons are 5 and 6, and the bottom row buttons are 9 and 10. Multiplayer games use the red buttons, so just add two to each button number to get the same mappings for the second player.

The menu controls are the same as World Class Track Meet. On the title screen, press Select to move the cursor and press Start to go to name entry. In the tournament mode, you first select how many teams you want between three and six. Use the D-Pad to move the cursor at the bottom and press Select to lock in your choice. You then move to name entry which is identical for all modes. The blinking cursor at the top part of the screen determines which character in the name you want to choose, and you move that cursor by pressing B to move it left and A to move it right. Use the D-Pad to move the letter selection cursor at the bottom part of the screen. Press Select to write the selected character in the name field. When all names have been entered, press Start to begin.

Now you move to the event screen. There are flags displayed with the names of all the events. Press Select to choose the event and press Start. In 1 Player and 2 Player modes, the events are Super Obstacle Course, Obstacle Course A, Obstacle Course B, and Skateboard Race. The 2 Team Play and Tournament mode events are 6 Legged Race, Tug of War, and Relay Race. More on these modes later. The next screen is the versus screen showing who is competing in the race. If you are playing Tournament mode, you will see a screen in between showing the bracket setup. In single player, the versus screen lets you decide which computer character you want to race against. Press Select to choose from either Ollie, Jimmy, or Jack, and press Start to go to the race. Ollie is easy mode, Jimmy is medium difficulty, and Jack is the fastest.

What lovely flags!

The gameplay screen has the same structure in all events. The left runner, designed as the White team, is displayed on the top part of the screen and the right runner, or Red team, is below. At the bottom of the screen is a minimap that shows how far each player or team has reached in the current race. You also see times for each runner. This timer freezes briefly during checkpoints so you get a better glimpse of how you are doing as you compete. To begin the race, all active participants must be standing on the Power Pad in their designated spots. For single player, stand on 5 and 6. A whistle is blown and soon the referee fires the starting gun.

Let’s look at each of the events first. Then I will explain how they combine into the different courses.

The Log Hop is exactly how it sounds; you run and jump over stationary logs. This introduces the standard controls that apply to many events in the game. Run on 5 and 6 in the middle row to move forward. Take a step back and run on 9 and 10 to back up a little bit if you need to. You can run right up to the log and then jump in the air so that your character jumps as well. The logs are medium height so they aren’t too tough to jump over. You can even land on top of the log and run right off.

No, you can’t run around the ball.

The Belly Bump Ball has the same controls as the Log Hop. Here a giant beach ball is in the middle of the track and you have to bump it forward by running into it. The faster you run into it, the farther down the track it goes. Ideally you want to get into a good rhythm of bouncing it far ahead and then running fast to knock the ball ahead again. If you come at it slow, the ball won’t go very far and then you don’t have the distance necessary to build up speed unless you take a few steps back and give yourself some running room.

Water Cross is similar to the Log Hop. There are pools of water on the track that you want to jump completely over if you can. Run up to the edge and jump to hopefully get across. More than likely you will fall into the water. You can swim by running on 5 and 6, but you will cross very slowly and use up a lot of time.

In the Crab Walk, I guess you wear a crab outfit? It’s weird. You want to put your left foot on the 1 and your right foot on the 9 and then run in place to inch ahead. It’s different than the other events since your feet are much further apart. I could move forward but really couldn’t get the hang of this one like I should have.

The Wall Jump is exactly like the Log Hop. The walls are thin and much taller than the logs. You really need to jump high to get to the top of the wall. Not only that, but there are two different heights of walls just to make things more exhausting.

This is a very sturdy bubble.

In Bubble Run, you first approach an air pump and must blow up your bubble. Hit 1 and 2 in the first row to inflate your balloon. The manual says to hit the buttons with your hands, which makes sense since you are working an air pump. You can run on it if you want, but my legs needed a break! Once the bubble is filled, then run on 5 and 6 and take the bubble to the end.

These are all the basic events that combine to form the larger events that you choose from the menu before play. In the Super Obstacle Course, you run all six of the above events in that exact order. In Obstacle Course A, you do the Log Hop, Water Cross, and Wall Jump, and in Obstacle Course B you do the Belly Bump Ball, Crab Walk, and Bubble Run. The Relay Race in the team play modes is the same as the Super Obstacle Course. Instead of running the whole thing alone, you pass the baton and substitute team members after each pair of events.

That’s not all! There are also three other unique special events:

The Skateboard Race is for one or two players. In this mode you don’t have to run, which is quite the relief! Your front foot position will either be on the 5 or 6, and your back foot position is either 9 or 10. First, stand on 5 and 6 to start with the whistle blow, then put your front foot on 5 and your back foot on 9. I like to face right while on the mat. This will position you in the top row in your course. Move your front foot to the 6 and then move your back foot to the 10 to move your character to the bottom row in the course. You can switch positions one step at a time to slide your skateboarder. You may rhythmically step between positions to slalom and that lets you move faster down the course. You also need to sidestep to dodge obstacles on the course. Some obstacles block both lanes and you must jump to get past them. If it sounds complicated, I’m sure you will get it once you finish the course once or twice.

Try to weave around the obstacles.

The 6 Legged Race is a team event only. You need six players for this event! Each team of three stands back to back on the respective spaces on the Power Pad so that there is a foot on every button. Each team must take left and right steps together as if their feet are tied together. If someone is out of step the racers will fall over and make it harder for the team to continue to walk. There’s no feasible way for me to play this event, but I bet it would be hilarious!

The Tug of War is another team event that can be done with either two, four, or six players against each other. Within a team, the first player stands on 5 and 6, the second player stands on 1 and 2, and the third player stands on 9 and 10. The other team takes the respective positions on the right side of the Power Pad. When the firing gun starts, everyone runs as fast as they can. Whichever side has pulled more of the rope after 30 seconds wins the Tug of War.

I’ve never been a Power Pad player, so this was my first time playing through Super Team Games. All of the Power Pad games tend to teeter between common and uncommon, but they are neither difficult nor expensive to track down if you really want them. Well, aside from Stadium Events that is. I got my original copy in a lot on eBay early on when I had made my big push to collect the other half of the NES licensed set. I remember seeing it and getting pretty excited since I had never seen the game before and thought it might have been worth something. I quickly found out that it was cheap because no one wants it. I’ve had a few different copies come through my possession.

This was a really bad jump attempt.

Super Team Games is a significant step up in difficulty from World Class Track Meet. Naturally, I learned this the hard way. My first time playing I picked the Super Obstacle Course against the fastest computer runner Jack. He completely blew me away. He completed the entire course in under three minutes while I hadn’t even reached the halfway point yet. I had to stop and step away in the middle of the race for a little while to catch my breath. I kept at it just to get through it, but I never did finish the race. After 10 minutes have elapsed, the race just ends. I was at the very end of the course with the finish line in sight when this happened. So annoying. I’m calling it impossible for me to beat this on the hardest difficulty and immediately accepted the idea of beating it on Easy and stopping there.

I moved on to the Skateboard Race next which is the easiest mode and much less strenuous. It still took me two attempts to beat easy difficulty Ollie. The first attempt was learning the course and the controls, and then the second try was enough to win the race. I then switched over to trying Obstacle Course A and managed to win that race too. The only problem is I forgot to hit the record button on my PC. That really upset me and I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I completed it again. I was completely spent from playing this game to the point where I had to rest for a couple of days before trying again.

I finished all of the modes over the next three play sessions. The Super Obstacle Course took me two tries to win against Ollie. He finishes the race in around six minutes. I was about twenty seconds behind the first try and then I won by more than that the next try. It also took me two tries to beat the Obstacle Course A again. The first try I quit part way because I was too far behind and exhausted from winning the Super Obstacle Course just before. The next try I won the race by just barely passing Ollie on the final stretch. That was way too close for comfort. Obstacle Course B is quite a bit easier than the other two obstacle courses, but I think that took a couple of tries as well. I used the Skateboard Race as a warm up exercise and finished it a couple more times for good measure. I learned from my mistakes and recorded everything the way I wanted.

That’s how close I was to losing Obstacle Course A.

I think Super Team Games requires more consistency and better form than World Class Track Meet. You can be successful by stepping on the Power Pad as quickly as possible, since that’s more or less what I did. However, it does seem that you are rewarded for having proper form in your steps and jumps. I will caution that I cannot be entirely sure about this. The manual tells you what to do, but not how to do it well. It’s not really feasible for me to test any hypotheses either because I can only play a little bit at a time before wearing out. My theories will have to do. I was able to do a really long jump a few times and I never understood how it happened. I’m sure it has to do with the timing of my jump while running with some speed, maybe even by jumping off of one foot and landing on the other. I also noticed that I accelerated sometimes while jogging for some distance. There does seem to be some momentum inherent in the game physics as long as you keep going without slowing down too much or missing any steps on the buttons. Again, these are just theories. I assume there has to be some kind of technique that I didn’t understand that could help me perform at a higher level.

I do have a few observations about racing Ollie that might be helpful if you want to play this game single player. I found that I was about on par with Ollie in all events but two. Ollie does the Crab Walk well, but does the Belly Bump Ball terribly. I have no idea what the secret is to crab walking and I always lost ground during that event. The Belly Bump Ball is best way to take a big lead. Ollie gets no momentum at all and only pushes the ball a short distance while never backing up to get a better shot at it. If you run fast, pause briefly just after you bump the ball, and repeat, you should clear the event quickly. This was the key for me completing the Super Obstacle Course and Obstacle Course B, leaving only Obstacle Course A without an easy exploit. The sad thing is that the game manual tries to make you feel bad for even coming close in a match with Ollie. From the manual: “Ollie: A push over. Shame on you if you lose!” Let me tell you, there is no shame in losing to Ollie. This really is a tough game.

Super Team Games is not fun to play in my opinion, but it is a competent title. The graphics are simple and clean. The music, while not notable, is decent. The controls work well once you learn how to navigate the menu. There is a wide variety of events, especially when you include many players. The real fun of Super Team Games lies in playing this game with someone else. Racing against another player or coordinating large groups for team events are the kind of activities that form memories and build bonds, even in the heart of strenuous competition. Super Team Games is also a good exercise tool for Power Pad owners, so long as you take it easy and don’t worry about trying to outrun the computer players. Trying to beat the game in single player mode is too tedious and exhausting to be fun, and I missed out on everything in the other modes that would have made it enjoyable. I think the best part of Super Team Games was the feeling of relief to check it off the list and move on to the next game.

#68 – Super Team Games (Super Obstacle Course)

#68 – Super Team Games (Obstacle Course A)

#68 – Super Team Games (Obstacle Course B)

#68 – Super Team Games (Skateboard Race)


#66 – World Class Track Meet

Get out the Power Pad and run until your lungs wear out!

Might as well stick the menu under the title.

To Beat: Finish Tournament Mode
To Complete: Finish both Tournament and Olympics Modes
What I Did: Completed the game
Played: 12/15/17
Difficulty: 4/10
My Difficulty: 2/10
Video: World Class Track Meet Tournament and Olympics

This is a special day for Take On The NES Library for two reasons. First, this is the first Power Pad game I have covered here, and with that comes both a history lesson and technical details of what the Power Pad is and how it all works. Second, World Class Track Meet has some history of its own that ties in with the most expensive NES licensed cart, by far, and the only one that I don’t own for myself.

The discussion for World Class Track Meet begins with Stadium Events. Maybe you’ve heard about it? Stadium Events was developed by Human Entertainment and published by Bandai. This developer was known as Sonata at the time of this release and renamed themselves Human Entertainment in 1989. The game was first released in Japan in December 1986, then on the NES in North America in September 1987, and finally in Europe in 1988. It is the second in a series of ten fitness games in Japan called Family Trainer that utilized a special floor mat controller also called the Family Trainer. Bandai branded the controller and game series for the NES as Family Fun Fitness. However, only two games were released under Family Fun Fitness banner: Athletic World and Stadium Events. Athletic World originally came in a big box set with the controller, but Stadium Events was only released as a standalone title and therefore you had to already own the Family Fun Fitness mat to play it.

It was around this time that Nintendo decided to recall both the Family Fun Fitness sets and Stadium Events so that they could rebrand it as a first-party product outside of Japan. The Family Fun Fitness mat became the Power Pad, and Stadium Events became World Class Track Meet. Both the controller and the game function exactly the same just with different names and branding. The Power Pad with World Class Track Meet were quite widespread, selling both separately and bundled with the NES console in the Power Set. Stadium Events however had very limited sales due to both its brief availability and reliance on the Family Fun Fitness set. It is unknown how many copies still exist today. Some have guessed around 200 copies, and though I suspect there may be more it’s still a rare game regardless. A loose cart of Stadium Events is valued somewhere around $10,000 today, while complete and even sealed copies are worth at least three to four times that. I have all the other NES licensed carts, but I don’t plan to buy Stadium Events unless I get some enormous windfall of cash or get ridiculously lucky and find one for cheap.

The infrequently used Side A of my actual Power Pad.

The Power Pad itself is a pretty large floor mat controller. It measures a little over three feet long and a little under three feet wide when completely unfurled, and it is made of two layers of gray, flexible plastic with twelve pressure sensors in between. The sensors appear on the mat as large buttons and are arranged in three rows of four buttons each. Just like the Zapper peripheral, the Power Pad is connected to the NES on the second controller port. When you apply pressure to one of the buttons, usually by standing on it, the NES will detect that the button is pressed. I don’t fully understand the technology of it, but I do know that it is a little more complicated than handling the standard controller because the game has to be programmed to read twelve simultaneous button states on just the one controller port as opposed to eight on the regular gamepad.

The other interesting thing about the Power Pad is that you get a different button layout depending on which side of the mat is facing up. The Power Pad is clearly labeled either Side A or Side B. Side A only uses eight of the twelve buttons. The four corner buttons are neither labeled nor utilized whenever a game is designed for Side A. All the remaining buttons are blue except for the two red center buttons. This side of the Power Pad was not often used. Side B is the one most players remember when they think about the Power Pad. This side uses all twelve buttons and each one is clearly marked with a number from 1 through 12. Blue buttons are on the left side and red buttons are on the right side.

World Class Track Meet is an exercise game that simulates four Olympic events: The 100M dash, the 110M hurdles, the long jump, and the triple jump. This game uses Side B of the Power Pad. Two players can race in the 100M dash and 110M hurdles at the same time by using both the left and right sides of the Power Pad, while both the long jump and triple jump are single player only. Each of these events can be played on its own. There is also a Tournament mode which is for one player against computer controlled runners and an Olympics mode which can support anywhere from one to six players. To beat the game, you must complete the Tournament mode. All other modes are exhibition only, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to also compete solo in the Olympics.

This is Side B, used for this game.

To play, you will need to plug a standard controller in the first controller port and the Power Pad in the second port. The controller is for choosing the game mode and any other information. These controls are not really intuitive. The title screen displays all six possible game modes. Press the Select button to toggle the cursor one at a time between all six options, then press Start on the one you want. If you choose Tournament, it goes directly to gameplay. For all other options, you are brought to a name entry screen. First, choose how many players you want. Use Left and Right to move the selection arrow and press Select to input your choice, then press Start to proceed to the actual name entry. There will be empty names displayed for each player and names can be up to ten characters long. Each player is also assigned a color. On this screen you are controlling two cursors at once. One is the pink selection arrow at the bottom for choosing letters and the other is the blinking cursor underneath one of the characters in the names at the top. Use the D-pad to move the pink arrow and choose a letter, and press Select to input that letter. This writes the letter into the name underneath the blinking cursor and moves that cursor one space to the right. To position the blinking cursor, press A to move it one space to the right and B to move it one space to the left. The idea is to input one name and then press A enough times to position the blinking cursor to the start of the next name in the list. I know I explained it poorly, and like I said it’s not intuitive, but you will get the hang of it. Finally, after all the names are set, press Start to jump into the game.

The general idea in all gameplay modes is to run on the mat as fast as you can. For single-player, you will want to use the blue side of the mat. When you choose an event, it doesn’t begin right away. This gives you an opportunity to stretch, rest, coordinate in a group game, or whatever. The event will begin when all active players stand on two buttons of the same color in the same row. Stand still and wait for the starting gun if necessary, then run in place on your two buttons to run in the game. You may choose to run on any of the three rows on the mat, and whichever pair you choose influences your top speed in the game. As player one on the blue side of the Power Pad, your character runs the fastest when you use the top row buttons 1 and 2, the middle row buttons 5 and 6 are average speed, and the bottom row buttons 9 and 10 let you run the slowest. In multiplayer games, you can enforce using certain rows of buttons as a handicap to help even out the competition. Aside from running, you will also need to jump in place for some events.

The 100M dash is the most basic event. The top of the screen shows all the data, beginning with the name of the event and player names. You can also see both a timer and current running speed for each player, as well as a progress bar with tiny runners to show how both competitors match up during the race. At the bottom, you see both runners sprinting into the screen. There will always be two runners shown during this event; if there’s only one player the right side will be computer controlled. After you stand in position on the mat, the referee will appear and fire a pistol to signal the start of the race. Start moving too soon and you get a false start penalty, and three false starts gets you disqualified. Other than all that, just tap those floor buttons as quickly as you can!

Eat my dust, Turtle!

The 110M hurdles is similar in structure to the 100M dash. You race against the computer or another player with all the same on-screen indicators as before. Naturally, in this event you must sprint and then jump over hurdles as they come into view. This can be a little tricky to get the hang of because you need to jump earlier than you might think to properly clear each hurdle. Running into a hurdle just slows you down, so for the best times you shouldn’t knock any over. This is also an event that is more difficult while running in the fastest position simply because the hurdles can come at you so quickly.

The long jump in a single-player only event. Here the second runner’s information at the top of the screen is replaced with the distance for each of three attempts. Stand on the mat with both feet in the desired starting position to trigger the starting whistle. Then run in place up until the white line approaches. Jump in the air just before you cross the line and see how far you go. Successful jumps will display the distance reached and it will be recorded in one of the spaces up top. If you forget to jump, accidentally cross the line before jumping, or fail to plant your feet back on the buttons, it is considered a foul and doesn’t count. Your score for the event is the furthest distance out of those three attempts.

The triple jump is set up the same way as the long jump with one runner only and three attempts. This time when you reach the line, you must jump three times consecutively. I’m not completely sure about this, but I believe the idea of effective triple jumping is to jump, land and jump off one foot, land and jump off the other foot, and land at the end with both feet. That seems easier to do while actually leaping forward versus jumping in place on the Power Pad. Fortunately, World Class Track Meet is pretty lenient with the jumping technique. You can land on both feet each time and jump again even after a noticeable delay and you will still perform a decent jump in the game. The best of three attempts is your score for the round.

The hurdles can present a decent challenge.

The Olympics mode is a competition of all four events for one through six players. The races are run two at a time, and the jumps are done one player at a time. Times and best distances are recorded and given a score from 1 to 100 based on the world records for each of those events as of 1982. Then the sum of all four events for each player is the total score, and the highest score wins. When three or more players complete the Olympics, the winners are displayed on the podium as well as displayed on the final scoreboard, whereas for fewer players you just see the final tallies on the board. There’s no ending in this mode for single-player, so it’s not really required to beat the game even though I did it anyway.

The tournament mode is one player only. You will race against six different competitors: Turtle, Bear, Horse, Rabbit, Bobcat, and Cheetah. The mode starts against the slowest competitor, Turtle, in the 100M dash. Win that race and then you go up against Turtle in the 110M hurdles. If you win both races you get a medal and move on to the next opponent. This continues until all six opponents are defeated or you lose a single race. There are no continues in the Tournament so you need to win all twelve races in a row. You get medals for beating each of the first three racers, and you get trophies for beating the last three runners.

This was not only my first time playing through World Class Track Meet, but also my first Power Pad game completion. I bought my Power Pad for $20 at the monthly flea market in my area several years ago, and it came in a white box with the Power Pad labeling on it. That day I also saw a boxed Power Glove from the same seller for probably the same price, but I passed on it in favor of the Power Pad. That was a mistake looking back, and I wonder if I just didn’t carry enough cash with me that day because I should have just bought both. Still, a boxed Power Pad for $20 is not a terrible price. I didn’t even bother trying it out when I bought it, rather I stuffed it in storage for a couple of years. It’s in good shape and it works fine. I don’t remember where I got the World Class Track Meet cart, but it’s common and cheap anyway.

I wonder how I’ve already cleared almost five meters.

Before playing this game, I broke protocol and looked up what kind of times I needed to achieve in this game to succeed. I try to avoid doing any kind of research like this, but I justified it this time for two reasons. The first is that I wasn’t too sure if I would physically be able to beat the game in the first place. I am by no means an athlete and never have been, plus I just turned 34 years old and I’m not getting any younger. I would say I’m in average shape, maybe a little overweight but not too bad. The other reason is that I have to be considerate of my other family members when I play something like this. I do most of my gaming at night after my wife and daughter are asleep, and it wouldn’t be good for me to be shaking the house and waking them up while I play late at night. My setup at home is favorable for this though, since my gaming TV is in the basement with a concrete floor under the carpet. I can’t be stomping around super hard, but there’s a good chance I could play and be quiet enough to go unnoticed. Anyway, the point I’m really trying to make here is that I don’t want to be experimenting around with this game just in case I disturb anyone sleeping. When I play, I want to get right to it and minimize the possibility of being a bother to my family.

As it turned out, those above points were non-factors. I played the entirety of the game during my lunch hour from work at home while my wife and daughter were out of the house, and I didn’t have any trouble beating the game in one attempt. It all comes down to beating Cheetah at the end. I don’t know if his times are consistent or not, but in my game he ran the 100M in 9.88s and the 110M hurdles in 14.70s. I decided to give my all on each and every race. Unfortunately, I ran out of breath trying to do all these sprints and it took me quite a lot of rest in between tries just to muster the strength to keep going. It’s really an exhausting game to beat even though it wasn’t that tough. I was consistently running the 100M in under seven seconds, so that mode was trivial. The hurdles were tougher but I still managed to win every race by at least a second or so. I started doing the hurdles in the medium speed position to work on my timing, but there I would not have been fast enough to beat Cheetah. For the fifth run of the hurdles I switched over to the super speed position in the top row and clocked in under 14 seconds, which was good enough. There is really no reason in single player to run in either of the slower positions, and there’s no shame in beating this kind of game in the easiest way available.

After the tournament, I also completed the Olympics mode by myself. I scored 379 points out of a possible 400, which I think is pretty good for one attempt. I might have scored better if I played it completely rested. I was gassed by the end of it all and I pushed myself just to have the final event, the triple jump, over with. This is a very short game to complete. My video of it is around 20 minutes long with most of that being unedited footage of waiting while I rested and caught my breath. I thought the game was easy to complete for myself, but what happens if you are unable to do this fast enough? Depending on your fitness level, it could possibly take weeks or longer to improve enough to win at World Class Track Meet. I’m no fitness expert so I’m just speculating on that. I don’t know how to effectively assign a relative difficulty to this game, and so I arbitrarily decided on 4/10.

I was beyond exhausted by this last event.

I played the game as it was designed to be played, but there are a few ways to cheat at the game that I bet many people would think to try. One common technique is to get on your knees and use your hands to slap the buttons. You can cheese the long jump and triple jump by jumping completely off the mat and back on quickly enough to trick the game into thinking you jumped super high. You could also hold onto a bar or piece of furniture or something when you jump to push yourself up higher. Finally, if you are really brave in a two-player game, you could try shoving your opponent off the pad entirely to gain an advantage. I don’t condone this in any fashion and you are entirely at your own risk if you do this!

Another little tidbit about World Class Track Meet is that it is one of the few NES games that doesn’t have a box to go with it. The game cart was bundled with the Power Pad and was not sold separately. The game also appeared as part of a triple combo cart along with Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt as part of the Power Set, which included the Power Pad along with the console, controllers, and the hookups. That combo cart also doesn’t have a box. The manual for World Class Track Meet is also the manual for the Power Pad itself and is branded as the Power Pad manual. These are the kind of oddities that somewhat complicate things for full set collectors.

Today, both the Power Pad and World Class Track Meet are nothing more than a novelty. There just weren’t very many Power Pad games released to go with it, and World Class Track Meet itself is a very basic experience that isn’t all that fun. The idea of fitness games peripherals still lingers on. Dance Dance Revolution would become a huge cultural phenomenon years later, and Nintendo themselves eventually came around to the idea again in the form of Wii Fit and the Wii Balance Board. Therefore, World Class Track Meet has some historical importance, but doesn’t offer much else.

#66 – World Class Track Meet (Tournament)

#66 – World Class Track Meet (Olympics)


#42 – The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island

Getting lost takes on a whole new meaning.

Seeing the year 1964 feels so bizarre.

To Beat: Reach the Ending
Played: 12/4/16 – 12/6/16
Difficulty: 3/10
My Difficulty: 3/10
Video: The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island Longplay

As a rule, I tend to be overly optimistic in my impressions of NES games. Even the worst of the games I have played so far have had redeeming qualities and I have had fun with them. However, even my constant optimism can’t save the fact that The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island is an unpleasant experience. I made the best out of it anyway and now I can share what I feel is the worst NES game I have played yet.

Gilligan’s Island is a sitcom that ran on CBS for three seasons spanning 1964 to 1967. It was created and produced by Sherwood Schwartz. The premise of the show is that a Hawaiian tour boat gets caught in a bad storm and wrecks on an uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. The castaways work together to try and escape the island only to almost always be thwarted by Gilligan’s antics. The show was reasonably popular during its initial run but it grew in popularity later in syndication. This late popularity is likely what inspired a trio of Gilligan’s Island made-for-TV movies and a pair of animated series all in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island is the NES game based on the sitcom. It was developed by Human Entertainment, Inc. and published by Bandai America, Inc. Released in July 1990, not only was it an NES exclusive game, but it is the only video game based on the show. While not a video game, there was a pinball machine based on the sitcom. Named Gilligan’s Island, the machine was manufactured by Bally Midway in 1991.

If Gilligan thinks this is a good spot, it probably isn’t.

In The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island, you play as the Skipper with Gilligan following you along during your adventure. The game is broken up into four levels which are cleverly referred to as episodes. The levels act like a separate episode of the show each with their own self-contained story. Here you explore the island from a side view as you venture out to locate both your fellow castaways and items in order to progress the story to its conclusion.

The game has simple controls. Use the D-Pad to walk around in eight directions. The A button is for jumping, and the B button is used to attack. The Select button pulls up the in-game menu. In the menu, A is used to select the options and Select returns control back to the gameplay. Start is only used to start the game on the title screen.

Exploration is the main objective in this game. You are provided with a map that you can pull up from the menu that really helps. Each section of the map is its own side scrolling area and exits to other areas are located on either the top or the bottom of the screen. Capital letters are located on the map that indicate the locations of one of the other castaways. Typically, you will want to talk to them right away to find out what is going on and what they want you to do. The levels are all timed encouraging you to keep moving along.

The main mechanic in the game is that Gilligan must go along with you as you progress. However, you do not control Gilligan directly, rather he automatically follows behind you trying to keep up with you. The game is essentially one giant escort mission. Gilligan controls much like you expect his character would move in that he bumbles behind you and can often get stuck or left behind in some way. Despite your best efforts, it is assured that at some point you will lose track of Gilligan. When this happens, the clock temporarily changes over to a special two-minute timer. If you don’t locate Gilligan before the timer runs out, it’s Game Over. You need him with you to advance the story, so find him as soon as possible.

Gilligan forgot to follow me again.

One interesting aspect in the game is that the Skipper and Gilligan have conversations that carry on throughout the action. There is a lot of empty space at the bottom of the screen next to the life indicator and timer, so it is constantly filled with scrolling text. The banter is typical of what the characters would say on the show. This also applies to the conversations with the other castaways. I found myself talking to the characters again after each event just to see the different dialog.

There are enemies and traps that stand in your way. Most enemies are wild animals that are annoying. For instance, birds dive bomb you from overhead, and leopards run you over. You can attack the enemies but I find they are best ignored. There are also rolling and falling boulders and other similar obstacles that hurt you. Many screens have rocks that you can jump over, but if you land on one you can trip and take damage that way. There is also running water and quicksand that slows you down instead of dealing damage. In these places, you have to mash the jump button in order to get through. Sometimes you can get swept away to a different part of the map altogether. These places can be useful to jump closer to the next objective or alternately force you to backtrack several minutes.

There are several items available in the episodes. Many of them are quest items that you need to carry in order to progress the story, and these items are specific to a particular episode. One recurring item is the club that gives the Skipper better attack capability and this is often found early in the episode. There are also random item drops that occasionally appear on the ground. The banana restores two hearts of health when used from the menu. The hourglass adds a minute to the timer. A rope is a very useful item as this lets you immediately bring Gilligan back to you if you get separated no matter where he is.

Seeing an item on the ground is always a nice surprise!

The levels also include a cave system. Generally, you enter the caves by falling down a hole. These can be the biggest annoyance of all. If you want to go through a hole, Gilligan needs to go down first and you must walk around in a way to guide him into it. If you don’t want to go that way, then you should tread carefully so he doesn’t fall in by mistake. There are ladders but some of the holes are one-way without a ladder and that can set you in the wrong direction. Moreover, the caves are not always charted on the map, leading to getting lost.

Each episode features at least one boss encounter. These are simply larger enemies that try and beat you down. You want the club for these skirmishes and you fight them by hitting them before they hit you. The bosses take several hits to defeat and the fights themselves become repetitive and tedious. It’s also tough to tell if you are even damaging the boss or not.

At the end of each episode, you are greeted with a cutscene that completes the storyline. Then you are taken to a score screen where you get points based on your time, health, and items remaining. I have no idea why this game has a scoring system since this is the only time points are visible in the entire game. More useful than the scoring screen is the password screen. The game has only four levels, but they are lengthy enough that passwords are welcome. Passwords are simple sequences of eight capital letters A-P, which are still too long for this game but acceptable.

Gilligan is a boss fight spectator too.

This was my first time playing The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island. Before beating the game, I had only seen brief amounts of gameplay a few times, so the game was mostly a mystery for me. For collecting purposes, the cart itself isn’t common but not that expensive either. Today it sells in the $10-$20 range. I bought my cart off eBay in 2014 for about $9 shipped. I remember seeing this game at my local game store for I think $18 when I was actively buying. Eventually it sold but I’m glad I passed on it.

It only took me a couple of days to finish the game. I am good at mental mapmaking and so exploring the maps only taxed me a little bit. I was quick to latch onto using the rivers as warps, so that helped me clear the game more quickly. I only had to repeat levels once or twice before I had it figured out well enough to complete it in time. The pathing does get complicated in Episode 4 and writing my own map for some segments could have proven handy if I weren’t so stubborn.

I neglected to take video of my run through the game the first time, but I suppose I felt the need to have it recorded so I sat down and completed the entire game a second time. The length was just barely short enough to justify recording a longplay. The problem with doing this is that all the levels blend together because the graphics are consistent throughout the game. I know that I got turned around a few times and had to resort to the map much more often than I would have liked, but that was a necessity to getting it all completed in one attempt. I ended up dying once in Episode 3 and again in Episode 4, but in retrospect I think that’s actually a pretty good outcome.

The stream, mud, rocks, and bats all at once!

The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island is misleading in that it has the appearance of being a decent game. The graphics and music aren’t special, but they are adequate. The character portraits and cutscene graphics are nice, and the theme song sounds fine on the NES sound chip. The writing is probably the best thing about the game. I think the writers nailed the personality of the characters and dialog to the point that it feels like an episode of the show. The boss fights can be a bit tricky, but aside from those the game is easy enough that anyone with enough patience and a willingness to map out the levels can finish it. By all appearances, the game is a competent one.

The failing is entirely in the gameplay. This is the most boring game I have ever completed. The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island is window dressing surrounding a myriad of dull, lengthy fetch quests. You talk to people, you find an item, you talk to more people back and forth, you fight a boss, you talk to more people, and so on ad nauseam. You constantly need to wait for Gilligan to catch up to you lest you leave him behind. Nuisances surround you at every twist and turn. A single misstep can lead to several minutes of tedious backtracking on top of the normal backtracking already required. Death is particularly painful and is most likely to lead to shutting the game off, putting it back in storage, and never looking back. I would only hesitantly recommend this game to someone who is trying to complete all NES games, looking for something with easy difficulty, and possesses either elite patience or a glut of free time. Appreciating bad games would be a plus, too. That subset of people is tiny, and I would still feel bad recommending it even if all those boxes are checked. If you happen to be a fan of the show, just watch the longplay I posted. But if you do, don’t blame me if you come to realize it wasn’t worth your time after all!

#42 – The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island