Spider-Man and the X-men in Arcade’s Revenge (is Misunderstood)

To some people, the letters L, J and N in the same sentence instill a feeling of dread. As a publisher, LJN was able to acquire an impressive number of high profile licenses such as Alien,  Back to the Future, Terminator and even Marvel. Contracting various developers, LJN would pump out several of these high profile games while never bothering to consider the quality. Sadly, most all of these “games” were terrible in more ways than could be discussed in a single blog post. While I haven’t played every game LJN has to offer (nor do I ever want to), they did give us a game worth talking about.

Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade's Revenge (U)_title

Originally developed by Software Creations and released for the Super Nintendo in 1992, Spider-Man and the X-men in Arcade Revenge is a platformer that let’s you play as several iconic Marvel characters in various bizarre situations of varying quality of gameplay. Each of the five playable characters has two big levels to  and one small level (except for Spider-man, who has more) to play through in a unique environments with unique play styles. One of the aspects that makes this game great is how each character feels different from each other almost to the point where it feels like an entirely different game. It’s like a kind of variety show in game form, yet it feels cohesive and works rather well. That’s not to say that there aren’t problems with the game because there definitely are problems… a lot of them.  But what it lacks in some areas it makes up in many others.

Controls

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Oh no! Our heroes have been captured! Do they have what it takes to escape?!

Like any good platformer, Spider-Man / X-Men has extremely responsive controls. The characters never feel sluggish and move exactly where you want them to… even though it is occasionally hard to tell where you want to move them but I’ll get into that later. While each character controls a bit different, the developers, thankfully, put the common controls in the same spots for each character. No matter who you are, ‘B’ is the jump button and ‘Y’ is your primary attack. You may think it’s silly to mention this but I’m sure some of you would just assume that because it’s produced by LJN that everything would be awful. This is definitely not the case as here’s quite a lot here to enjoy.

Graphics

The game looks pretty darn good! The animations are rather fluid and look nice and crisp. Our Marvel heroes are easily identifiable in their various costumes. The backgrounds and settings also feel very well made. Each character has their own graphical theme ranging from circus to cave. It may not have pushed the boundaries of what the SNES could do but it didn’t really have to, either.

Audio

Wow! Composed by Tim and Geoff Follin, the music for Spider-Man / X-Men is astounding. These two brothers clearly knew their way around the SNES’ sound chip. Every song is this game is a rich, complex composition. Some songs are filled with wailing guitars, cymbal hits, full drum sets and more. Even more impressive than the music is how accurate each song feels. Every environment has a song that will make you think “this is the only song that could have ever gone with this level”. The amount of understanding that the Follin brothers had toward the mood of each level really shows. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy the games prog-rock style, it’s hard to not appreciate the quality of the soundtrack.

The sound work in this game is really fantastic as well but to a lesser extent. Most sound effects, such as punching an enemy, explosions, screams, and other little miscellany sound just great. Some other sound effects, especially those related to Spider-Man, can be particularly grating and nonsensical. For example, Spider-Man’s “spider-sense” sound effect is horrible. It’s an amazingly harsh buzzing sound that seems to never stop (especially in the introductory stage). It becomes less of a problem in his later stages but he still has a couple other sounds that just make you wonder, “Why?”.

Gameplay

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Spider-Man is in quite the hurry to save his friends…

As I mentioned before, each of the five playable characters controls differently. In addition to control, each characters play a lot differently too. Except for Storm who swims, each character runs and jumps in order to reach the end of the level or defeat a boss enemy. This is about where the similarities stop, though.

Spider-Man’s levels are the most basic with very traditional feeling platformer gameplay. Doing whatever a spider can, his moves consist of web shots, web swings and wall-crawlin’. His first level is a very basic run, jump and web swing a lot while his second level adds a huge layer of complexity. Wind is blowing at all times, pushing Spider-Man around. You have to work with and against the wind in order to successfully complete the level. Spider-Man, with his well executed spider-moves, is fun to play as and so are his levels.

Wolverine, with his famous claws, has a nice set of wildly different levels. His first level is very basic: run, jump and claw you’re way through the level until you kill the boss. At any time, you are able to retract Wolverine’s claws in order to regenerate health. It’s a not-so-useful but welcome addition to his abilities. His second level is where the game starts to get a little crazy. Juggernaut is chasing you throughout the level and it’s up to Wolverine to kill him before you reach the end. You have to attack, drop weights, break down walls, all while dodging and killing obstacles and enemies. It’s a extremely complex level to learn and most people might stop here.

Cyclops and his Optic Blasts have two of the deadliest levels. Using his fists, feet and eye-lasers, Cyclops must traverse dangerous mineshaft-like levels. His first level features mine-cart rides over dangerous electrified tracks. One wrong step and it’s instant death! His second level, while not featuring mine-carts, still has the deadly tracks. It’s challenging but never impossible.

Gambit has the most unique platforming section. As you may know, Gambit throws kinetically charged cards as his method of attack. This game’s version of Gambit is no different. Injecting a small aspect of realism into the game, Gambit is limited to a deck of cards. After he throws them all, he’s out! It requires you to kill enemies in order to replenish the deck. It’s an interesting mechanic and it works well, making each shot feel like it counts for something. Gambit’s first level feature’s a gigantic spike ball chasing you. If it touches you, you’re dead! It may seem difficult at first, but there are plenty of items abound that push the spike ball back. His second level features an ever-rising elevator. On your way to the top, you must learn the correct path through, else you’ll be crushed! Although fun, these levels can feel a bit trial-and-errorish which can be a bit of an issue.

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No Storm’s were hurt in the making of this GIF.

Storm is the odd one out. Known for her power of flight and weather control, she uses neither of them and instead… swims. Storm is challenged to swim though a maze-like area, destroying tanks to raise the water level to reach the top. Instead of health, she has an air meter. Getting hurt reduces you air meter as does being under water. Both of her levels play the same and are difficult to learn the correct and safest path. Her stages feel like another example of trial-and-error gameplay, requiring that you learn which tanks raise the water by how much. Although initially daunting and frustrating, Storm’s levels are the easiest in the game once you learn the correct path through. With her gameplay feeling rather rough and unrefined, Storm’s sections are easily the weakest of the game’s levels.

Each character almost feels like a separate game! They were very ambitious, trying to incorporate many ideas into the game. Some of the ideas work extremely well while others, not so much. While I love this game an unhealthy amount, I am not one to overlook it’s obvious faults.

The Problems

Spider-Man / X-Men is one of my personal favorite games but is by no means a perfect game. Many people would even call it a “terrible” game. Having spent so much time playing, I could understand why so many people might look down upon this game. People who dislike this game will probably (rightfully) argue the following:

Limited Lives

One of the main problems with any game featuring an instant-death or trial-and-error gameplay element is featuring a limited number of extra lives with no continues. This is one of those dreaded games. Certain levels feature elements that by the time you could have possibly known it would kill you there is no way to escape it. It’s unreasonable to expect a player to waste lives learning a level, only to game over and have to start from the title screen. This may even lead to the situation that, by the time they reach the level they died on, they’ve forgotten how to avoid the thing that kill them. It can be frustrating and encourages the player to give up, rather than continue.

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Frantic but fun, you will die a lot!

As an extra slap in the face, any extra life present on a level can only be collected once. That means that if you go out of your way to collect the rare extra life token and die, you’ve just wasted your time. Gambit’s stage is the only exception as his stages have different rules altogether regarding extra lives (collect 100 stars).

It should be noted that there is a glitch present in Gambit’s first stage that allow you to collect an unlimited amount of lives. I encourage anyone attempting to learn this game to exploit that glitch rather than use save-states on an emulator. You can find instructions on how to do the glitch all over the Internet.

Withheld Information

There are several cases where the game just does not tell you enough about what you need to do. Here just a few couple examples:

Spider-Man

There is an enemy in one of Spider-Man’s stages that requires you to swing into him. Common sense tells you that running into enemies is bad. It never tells you your web-swing can hurt enemies and more importantly, never sets up a situation where you are expected to learn this.

A more intelligent game design would place a certain object in your way. This object would block your progression through the level while also hinting that it can be destroyed some how. The level would then be set up in a way that a web-swing would carry you at the perfect height to strike the object blocking your path. Thus, teaching you about this game mechanic that is required.

Wolverine

Wolverine’s second stage is one of the biggest cases of “we’re not going to tell you how to beat this” I’ve ever seen in a platforming game. While the goal is to defeat Juggernaut, there three very key aspects that are not disclosed.

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Why won’t you die?! It’s almost as if he’s… unstoppable!

One, that Juggernaut cannot be defeated until the very end. Two, there is no way to tell how much health the Juggernaut has left. Three, your claws do not hurt Juggernaut. You can hit him, left him run into things but have no real idea if you’re doing any damage. Add these up and you get a situation where you have no idea if you’re doing it right until you inevitably die at the end. Throughout the level, there are weights hanging from ropes. You quickly learn that you can cut down a weight to slow down Juggernaut but what you don’t learn is that only the weights can do damage to him. Another major problem is that the game gives no differing feedback whether you punch him, slice him, let him run into a weight or drop a weight onto his head. Unless you just know to drop the weight on his head, most players would just cut down the weights and keep slashing at him only to find out that, regardless of how many time they hit him, he would not die.

Bugs

This is not a particularly well-made game. It features many bugs, some helpful and others very hurtful. I like bugs as they often add to the quirkiness or replay value of a game. That being said here are a few of the prominent bugs:

Helpful

The hit-box on Wolverine’s attack is extremely disjointed and huge. You can exploit this to kill enemies you probably shouldn’t be able to.

A glitch on Gambit’s first level allow you to get an endless amount of extra lives!

Hurtful
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And Cyclops was never heard from again…

There are at least three levels featuring a bug that can prevent you from progressing with one of them even requiring you to reset the game!

Storm’s clipping is very strange. The screen scrolls closer to the right than it does on the left. It’s fairly easy to get stuck rounding corners or to have your shots hit the ground when it looks like it shouldn’t.

Conclusions

Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge is a bad game and a good game. There’s a lot of fun to be had with the crisp graphics, rocking music and tight, responsive controls but it comes at a cost. It’s got so much going on that it almost make me wonder if the developers spread themselves a bit too thin, trying to do too much in too little a time. With all the bugs and quirks it’s the kind of game you have to learn in order to fully enjoy.  Spider-Man / X-Men comes from an age where it took much, much more than flicking a bird at some pigs to be considered a “game”. You can tell that the developers of Spider-man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge attempted to create something original, exciting and a little beyond the scope of the common run-and-jump platformers and you’ve got to respect them for that.

A game doesn’t have to be a perfect technical or design achievement to be a great game. Sometimes, it’s all the quirks and rough spots that make games so interesting. To many, the developers, Software Creations, have aimed a bit too high and missed the mark… but from where I’m sitting, it looks like they hit dead center, making of the most enjoyable Super Nintendo games I have played.

Video Walkthrough

For fun, I recorded a complete video walkthrough of the entire game. It’s played by myself on an actual SNES using a video capture device. I have fully annotated the run with all sorts of neat notes, tips and information. If you’ve enjoyed this article, you’ll probably enjoy the video, too!

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Super Mario Land (isn’t So Super)

The Game Boy was a dominating brand for over an entire decade. While technically superior, many competing handhelds stepped up to the plate and struck out year after year. With it’s humble 4-shades-of-grey, no-backlight,  no-color (except green-tinted) screen, the Game Boy defied all odds and was put into the hands of every child. Also thrust into the hands of children everywhere was the “classic” Mario game, Super Mario Land. Mario’s first portable adventure and for some people, their first Mario game ever, Super Mario Land was an attempt to capture the magic of his console adventures that has continued to captivate gamers for decades.

Super Mario Land-title

This Ain’t No Mushroom Kingdom

Having defeated Bowser during his adventure in Super Mario Bros., Mario’s services are temporarily no longer required in the Mushroom Kingdom. Instead, we follow Mario through the world of Sarasaland as he saves the other important woman of nobility, Princess Daisy. Being in a different world, in a different time, and on the Game Boy instead of the NES, it is expected that Super Mario Land is not going to be exactly like Super Mario Bros, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What is a bad thing, however, is that the product we received feels like a game that wants to be Super Mario Bros. but couldn’t quite make it.

Big Mario, Small, Messy World

The awful Superball power-up will give you a new appreciation for the firebals…

To accommodate the lower resolution of the Game Boy, Nintendo had to rework how a Mario game looks. The Game Boy has a bit less than 2/3 the available screen space as the NES which meant that there was a lot less room to show details. With this in mind, certain things had to be sacrificed for the sake of gameplay. Most noticeably, the size of individual blocks became much smaller, as did many other objects. However, as Mario is an iconic character, they left Mario rather large allowing the player to recognize him. The overall size of the character immediately begins to cause some problems with his surroundings and sadly, this is just the beginning of Mario’s difficulties.

While you can clearly see Mario, it feels like you can never really tell where he is. The collision detection, even compared to the admittedly loose collision of the original Super Mario Bros., is poor, confusing and frustrating. The blocks are too small compared to Mario which lends to situations where you aren’t quite sure what spot to stand in to jump through a one block hole. Not only this, it seems like Mario is always jumping partially inside of a block. This turns extremely simple things, such as jumping onto a small platform, into an exercise in frustration. While I am probably making it seem worse than it is, the situation is exacerbated by the equally bad controls / movement mechanics.

Shown here: Poor collision and the difference in falling speeds.

Shown here: Poor collision and the difference in falling speeds.

As the icing on the cake, the levels themselves are extremely uninspired and just not fun. While not all of the levels are bad, many of them look and feel like a hodgepodge of various ideas. None of the levels feel like they are building up to something. They overall design is illogical and often just plain boring.  There are a couple levels that feel like the level designer thought “I almost forgot about moving platforms!” and in haste to finish the level filled it such things. This sort of repetitive, shallow level design fills almost every level.

Out of Control

I’m not sure what happened but Mario has become much more difficult to control. While there is still a bit of acceleration, it feels very inconsistent. Sometimes it feels like Mario reaches top speed instantaneously and other times it feels like it takes a bit of running. Mario also appears to have two distinct falling modes with one being his “post-jump” falling and the other being his “ran-off-the-side-of-a-platform” falling.The former feels natural and has a nice falling acceleration. The arc of the jump is nice and you have a lot of control over the jump height which is a necessity in a Mario-type platformer.

Super Mario Land - input

Jumping while turning keeps you from moving horizontally. Observe Mario’s movement in conjunction with the button input shown.

The latter fall type has an annoying instant-top-speed effect. This means the moment you walk off of a platform, you’re falling at Mario’s in-game terminal velocity. While other games suffer from this, such as Castlevania or Ghost ‘n’ Goblins, those games are known for their intentionally clunky controls. In a related annoyance, any time Mario jumps and hits he head on something he instantaneously hits a maximum falling speed. If you attempt to jump over a gap and hit your head, you will zoom straight down into the void below.

One of the biggest annoyances is the presence of a particularly frustrating movement bug. Whenever you move in one direction and turn around, there is a brief period where Mario performs a brief “turning around” animation. If you jump during this time, you will be unable to move left or right until you hit the ground. This will happen constantly to the point where you’ll have to become conscious of it to avoid it.

A Smooth Landing

It is probably obvious by now that I don’t consider this to be a good game. Even so, Super Mario Land has a few aspects that aren’t bad. Luckily, the music is fairly well composed. The composer,  Hirokazu Tanaka, did a good job at turning the simple Game Boy “beeps” and “boops” into catchy, memorable tunes. This is to be expected, though, as “Hip” Tanaka was responsible for the amazing music in the NES titles Kid Icarus and Metroid. It’s nothing particularly special but you might find yourself humming the main tune a few hours later.

Super Mario Land_water_excerpt

The submarine and plane levels are (sadly) the best Super Mario Land has to offer.

Super Mario Land features a couple occurrences of non-platformer action. Instead, you control Mario in a scrolling shooter type of gameplay that involves Mario in a submarine and plane. Both the scrolling levels control exactly the same which is a good thing. These two levels are the most polished the game ever feels. The controls are, for once, very precise and easy. Just move and shoot as the screen scrolls to the right. It’s a bit sad that the best part of a 2D platformer is the parts where you don’t have to do any platforming. Nevertheless, these sections are brief, only occur twice, and give a much needed break from the rest of the game.

Stepping Stone to Greatness

I’m not going to say that Super Mario Land is terrible. I’m not going to say you shouldn’t play it. I will, however, suggest that you play any other traditional Mario platformer. Super Mario Land could be perceived as a necessary evil. The game itself is severely lacking, frustrating, and almost incompetent in some aspects of gameplay but it is, however, responsible for spawning some of the best games the Game Boy (and Game Boy Color) have to offer. Next time you have the urge to play Super Mario Land, find it deep within yourself to skip it and play Super Mario Land 2, any of the Wario Land games, or one of the many good games Nintendo has made for the Game Boy.

Music Appreciation (with Contra: Hard Corps)

I never owned a Sega Genesis so I didn’t get to experience many of the amazing games that weren’t multi-platform. Growing up, I always thought of the Genesis as severely lacking aurally. After hearing music from games like Super Castlevania IV, I would shun many Sega Genesis titles merely because of the stark contrast in audio abilities. One of the titles I wrote off happened to be a classic Contra game. To me, it was just “the game that wasn’t Contra III”.

Over in the SNES side, we received Contra III: The Alien Wars which is an amazing game by all accounts. However, on the Genesis side they received an entirely different game, Contra: Hard Corps. Comparatively, Hard Corps is a much bigger game. To name just a few exclusive features: it had more levels, several playable characters, and secret endings . Like most Contra games, Hard Corps is brutally difficult, especially for the US release. Being older, I now appreciate everything it offers in addition to this, it had one hell of a soundtrack.

I recently heard this Contra: Hard Corps song for the first time in as long as I can remember*:

There’s something about this track that feels perfect. It feels Contra-like. This is what the Sega Genesis should sound like.

The Genesis used a couple sound chips that produced a very unique sound compared to what the SNES could offer. In a lesser person’s hands, the Genesis’ sound chip wasn’t used effectively which resulted in a sound I can only describe as grating and industrial. When composed by a skillful artist who knows their way around the Genesis, it was capable of producing beautiful works that the SNES could never hope to recreate.

A game may be fun, innovative and look beautiful but it’s the sounds and music that are the glue that holds the entire experience together. Think about your favorite video games or movies for a second. While many differences, the commonality will inevitably be the masterfully composed and fitting soundtracks. Take a minute to appreciate all the hard work that goes into creating not just a beautiful video game soundtrack but a soundtrack that is engineered for such a specific sound chip as to fully immerse you in the world that is presented.

*I did not upload the video posted. I apologize if the video ever goes down.

Super Space ____ (is ____ing Cool)

Very rarely do I find a game that can instill an uncontrollable sense of giddiness in me. Last year, at the IndieCade game festival, I experienced once of these games. Super Space ____ (pronounced as the word “blank”), a top-down space shooter for Windows*, is the result of relatively simple concepts executed masterfully. The formula to Super Space ____ is basic: take one part asteroids, one part cooperative multiplayer, and an equal part competitive multiplayer. The result is one of the most hilarious, frantic 4-player games yet envisioned.

SuperSpaceTitle

Let’s Take a Trip Through Space… Together!

Physics-based games are all the rage these days. While I appreciate realistic gravity, ballistics, and whatever else you see in game descriptions these days, it’s no longer something that can set a game apart. In order to have your game stand out, you have to do something interesting. Super Space ____ does just that by taking an extremely simple physics concept, the recoil from firing a gun, and turning it into a core game component. As the player, you control a turret on a space ship. Using this turret, you must shoot asteroids, using the recoil from these same shots to maneuver the ship around. Add another player to the mix and you add another turret to the same ship.

Keep Your Friends Close…

With up to 4-players, you and your friends must work together as members of the same ship to steer your ship through wave after wave of oncoming asteroids and obstacles to dodge. While the asteroids themselves do not hurt your ship (in most cases!), colliding with any red object instantly ends the game. In order to score points and destroy an asteroid, you must hit it at least once and then have it collide with any red object. Each shot that hits an asteroid increases a point multiplier for that particular asteroid. The last person to have shot the asteroid before it collides with a red object will get credit for the points. While getting a higher score than your friends is always a plus, the real target is the gun power-ups.

SuperSpaceGameplay_16_color_edit

A brief adventure through space.

There are a total of 4 different power-ups for your turrets to compete for. For your firepower, there are three modifiers: a machine-gun, laser, and shotgun. Each player can have up to 3 different gun power-ups at a time. This means you can have a machine-shotgun, a ultra-fast triple machine-gun, or even a machine-shot-laser gun! Each power up feels unique and completely changes the dynamics of the ship movement.  A player with several power-ups will fire more shots which means they have an increased influence over the ships movement. A reckless player with a triple-shotgun can send the entire ship careening out of control with just a few shots!

… Because You Have No Choice

In addition to the gun modifiers, each player can hold one bomb. Using a bomb destroys all asteroids and deadly obstacles potentially saving your whole team. While initially a last-resort life-saving device, it can quickly become a weapon of revenge or pure annoyance by any player as every time a bomb is used all power-ups for every player will be ejected from them. As the power-ups fly out, each player will frantically fire as fast as they can in an attempt to reclaim their lost upgrades. In order to collect a power-up, that player’s turret must contact the floating upgrade token. As you can imagine, the sight of any power-up, especially after a well-timed spite-inspired bomb, causes the ship to spin wildly as each player attempts to aim the ship with their turret facing any items.

A Delicate Balance

All too often is the scenario that all players are shooting in the same direction, vying for the points and prizes. Remember though, as each shot fired pushes your ship backwards, if your team doesn’t coordinate and cooperate, you’ll all be dead in a matter of seconds. A successful trip though Super Space ____ requires that each player adapt to each other player’s tendencies and influence over the ships movement, the ship itself and the current wave of asteroids.

Each time you start the game, the overall shape of the ship is randomly selected. One ship might be shaped like a square, distributing all four

Although you need to cooperate, it also encourages competition.

Although you need to cooperate, it also encourages competition.

players equally. The next ship might be shaped like a “T” with one player at the bottom. Each ship plays a bit different and alters how your team will have to work together.

Although the waves of asteroids are endless (until you inevitably die), each wave has a special gimmick that you’ll have to overcome. One wave might have you having to push against a wall before it crushes you against the edge. The next wave might have special safe zones that you’ll have to navigate your ship into before a red wave approaches and destroys you. While the waves will repeat if your team is good enough to survive that long, they come in a random order and are all hectically fun.

Refined Simplicity

The concepts in Super Space ____ are not complex but they don’t have to be. The game’s real achievement is in the way it executes these concepts. It feels perfectly engineered for maximum fun with friends. The best part about it is that is is free to download. Head over to http://superspaceblank.com right now, grab some friends and start having a blast!

*While I am not sure of the minimum system requirements, it seems like it could run on any half-way decent machine. Also, it is important to note that Xbox 360 controllers are required in order to play.

The Adventures of Rad Gravity (isn’t so Rad)

The problem with dumpster diving is that you need to sift through trash to find the useful things. The Adventures of Rad Gravity is the closest thing to dumpster diving that the NES library contains.  You know that there’s something good in there but aren’t sure if it’s worth digging. There is a reason why some people don’t go dumpster diving and it’s the same reason why nobody ever talks about The Adventures of Rad Gravity: regardless of what you find, it still stinks.

Adventures of Rad Gravity, The (U)_title

Who can resist a game with the word “rad” in the title? You can!

This Could be Rad!

The Adventures of Rad Gravity is a planetary exploration 2D platformer featuring a character you’ve never heard of. Rad Gravity is a large-headed, big-chinned space-man who is on a mission to do something you probably do not and will not ever care about.  The game starts off very simple with a traditional side-scrolling level. The first level is not very difficult and is actually pretty fun. The game has all the standard 2D platforming fare such as jumping, shooting, killing things but as you progress it introduces a lot of adventure and exploration elements.

Adventures of Rad Gravity, The (U)_gameplay

Level One! Rad’s adventure begins!

Each level in Rad Gravity consists of a different planet. It’s pretty nice as each planet looks different and has different enemies in it. There is also a small level of non-linearity as certain planets can be explored in the order of your choice. Exploring the planets can be fun once you realize that there are plenty of new items and upgrades to discover. Taking a page from the classic NES title Metroid, there are maximum health expansions, armor upgrades, weapon upgrades and multiple different weapons to find.  There is a lot to do and an equally large amount of ambitious gameplay elements. In addition to exploration, there are many interesting novelty elements that spice up the game. One level has a series of doors that need to be unlocked by finding a key and tossing it onto it. Another level is played almost entirely while upside-down! These experiences are frequent, varied and make the game feel less repetitive.

Not only are there several planets to travel to but there are several required story events that pop up. Once one occurs, you are required to complete it before returning to your planet exploration. One involves your computer being stolen requiring you to chase down some thugs to get it back. Another has your ship breaking down requiring that you acquire replacement parts from a nearby derelict ship. These events bring an odd cohesiveness to a rather scattered looking game. In particular, these special levels make you feel as if you are making progress through the game rather than randomly exploring planets.

Have you ever wanted to explode a triceratops? Look no further!

Have you ever wanted to explode a triceratops? Look no further!

The Adventures of Rad Gravity is an ambitious game that has a lot going for it.  You can tell that someone worked really hard on the overall design of the game. It is impressive how many different areas, enemies, items, events and creatures you encounter on this little 8-bit adventure. Every couple years I find myself drawn back to its radical allure in hopes of reliving the planetary exploration goodness. And then at about 45 minutes into the game I begin to remember why The Adventures of Rad Gravity never received a sequel.

Not so Rad…

The Adventures of Rad Gravity is a brilliant game about dying over and over again until you shed a single tear, dripping it over the NES controller you’ve already destroyed in anger. This game will upset you. It was frustrate you. It will test your self-control. The Adventures of Rad Gravity is a game that is so frustrating that many will never experience all the “rad” stuff it has to offer. Let’s sift though the refuse:

There is One Song

Yes. Other than the title screen, credits and boss music there is only one song and it plays constantly. Plan on hearing this same song several hundred times. Although it’s not a particularly bad song, it’s seriously the only song in the game for all planets except for the final one (which plays the boss music). Keep in mind that this is not a short game. It will take several hours to beat if you’re willing to stick with it. With all the varied environments and enemies, you’d thing they could at least compose a few songs? Nope. Just listen to this theme over and over and over and over and over…

Movement Acceleration is Terrible

Rad Gravity has a problem with movement. There is acceleration when beginning to move and deceleration when stopping. While this doesn’t seem bad, it makes it extremely difficult to make precise jumps. You have to get a brief running start in order to jump long gaps which is totally fine except for the fact that sometimes you are only given a one block distance to gain this momentum. It makes doing full-speed jumps somewhat annoying. While acceleration is just an annoyance, the deceleration takes the first major step toward ruining the game. When coming to a stop, Rad Gravity slows down before stopping. As you can imagine, this makes jumping onto small blocks incredibly frustrating. You are constantly having to counteract your momentum by press the opposite direction. If you don’t there is a good chance that when you land, you’ll run right off the edge of a block. But you can’t over compensate or else you’ll not jump far enough and might miss the block entirely! Ugh…

Instant Death Pits
DIEEE

Get those tears ready. You’ll be crying in no time!

This is absolutely the worst offender of the game. In a stellar example of poor game design, many levels are filled with pits that kill you instantly, regardless of your health. One wrong move will send you back to the beginning and into a rage. There are several levels that have certain portions designed around tricking you into falling into an instant death pit. This is absurd! Why design a game based on tricking the player into dying? It’s not fun and severely detracts from the game. In particular, the planet Volcania is a lava planet. Everything on this level is designed to knock you into the lava, killing you instantly. This level is terrible. This level is amazingly terrible. Playing this level is the precise moment I decided that The Adventures of Rad Gravity could not be redeemed. It is forever, irrefutably, and officially a bad game.

Confusing Progression

The game occasionally throws you into a situation where you have no idea what to do. While I know how to beat the game, I pity any body who goes into this game blind. In one particular case, there is a part where you must jump up through and off the top of the screen in order to progress. There is nothing telling you that you can do this and if it weren’t for my years of gaming experience, I probably would have never tried that. A few boss fights play more like puzzles than actual fights. During my childhood, I actually thought the first boss had a “random” amount of health as one time it died almost instantly while the next time I spent 15 minutes shooting it with no success. It caused me to give up several times because as it turns out, they are invincible. You can not hurt them with your weapons. I spent far too long shooting them thinking that they just had an absurdly large amount of health. It feels like many situations in this game have a “trick” to it that is not explained. You will get stuck. You will not like it.

Lack of Useful Checkpoints

The Adventures of Rad Gravity is a hard game. I like hard games so that’s usually not a problem for me. What I do have a problem with is that when you die, you must start the level all over again. The game is unforgiving in its difficulty and sometimes feels cheap. You can work very hard and on your 15th try, finally make it to the end only to be killed by some dumb, random thing. Seeing you start at the beginning of the level really sucks the urge to continue playing out of you. Only very small number of levels have checkpoints, notably the first and last level of the game. What happened to the middle levels? Those are hard too! You’re probably thinking, “If you just get better at the game you won’t need checkpoints!” That would be true except for the horrible and frequent instant deaths that I’ve already explained.

Progress Resets

Briefly mentioned above, there is a section of the game where you  are forced to enter a derelict space ship to find a replacement part. This level has the horrible habit of completely resetting your progress when you leave ship area. Since the ship is a bit of a puzzle which involves you having to find and place these fuse-like objects into certain sockets, it can be very confusing to figure out, especially initially. What is even more horrible is that upon exiting the main ship area, your fuse-socket progress is completely reset. I am almost positive this was not intentional as it doesn’t make any sense. It is just unfortunate and frustrating when there is a part where you can “fall” out of the ship and have to re-enter, erasing any progress you’ve made in the last 20 minutes.

The Broken Translocator was Intentional
The translocator is slightly more than broken

The translocator is slightly more than broken. Shown here: passing through walls, the Volcania secret, and falling into glitch-land.

At one point, Rad Gravity acquires a totally radical teleporter item which I like to call the translocator (after Unreal Tournament’s item of the same name). This item allows you throw out a small beacon and then teleport back to it at any time. This item completely destroys any semblance of collision detection that the game ever intended. Using this item and using a small series of obvious movements, you can break the game, skipping whole areas, passing through walls, and in one case that I found, crashing the game entirely. In a shocking twist, it turns out the developers actually knew the translocator was broken. In the level Volcania, there is a secret area that can only be accessed by passing through a wall with the translocator. I do not comprehend why a developer would allow their game to have a portion of it based on a potentially fatal programming flaw. Someone please explain this to me because I do not understand.

How to Make Rad Gravity Rad

The Adventures of Rad Gravity has got a lot of cool things going on and has a lot of great ideas are on display but in order to experience those things you’re going to have to look through layers and layers of garbage. It seems for every one great thing to experience there is at least three pieces of garbage. The good news, however, is that much of this garbage could be cleaned up with a surprisingly few number of tweaks.

Remove or Modify Instant Death Pits

Instead of dying, these pits could hurt you instead of outright killing you. Some games implement a design where falling into a pit hurts you and places you back onto the last solid ground before you fell in. This method could keep the challenge of jumps and oncoming enemies but still allow you to be penalized without having to start the entire level over again. With this, you wouldn’t even to change the level design (of which I actually think is interesting and fairly decent).

Tighten Up the Movement

Rad Gravity feels very slippery. Just be glad there is no ice planet or else Rad would completely out of control! The amount and acceleration and deceleration should be greatly lowered. If you could reach top speed or stop from a full run in about 1/4 the time, Rad would be much more manageable. I’m not a physics expert but I’m sure it wouldn’t take much more than some trial and error to find decent settings.

Fix Translocator and other Minor Bugs
asda

This should not be able to happen. Thanks, translocator!

I am not sure how The Adventures of Rad Gravity checks for collision but it sure doesn’t do it correctly. Without getting too technical, many of the translocator bugs could be fixed by making two programming fixes. One would be resetting Rad Gravity’s velocity to zero before he is teleported to the beacon. The other would be to remove and reset the beacon or eject the beacon if it becomes too far embedded into the wall. In addition, the progress reset bug would just be a matter of not resetting a few memory locations when exiting the derelict ship. These are relatively simple concepts that could be implemented by a moderately skilled programmer without too much difficulty.

Compose More Music

This one is obvious. Ideally, give each planet its own theme. It would considerably help the overall presentation of the game. Enough said.

It Should be Rad!

I really, really want to love this game. There are so many little things going on that I adore. Considering how much quality game there is beneath all the trash, I feel as if it’s an experience worth having but just not in its current state. Though it will never happen, The Adventures of Rad Gravity is in need of a remake. If you take the exact game, same levels, same overall graphical design and just improve upon the areas which I mentioned, you might just have one stellar game on your hands.

Ultimately, I admit that I like The Adventures of Rad Gravity. I do, in fact, think it’s a rad game. It’s just too bad I have to be waist deep in garbage to play it.

Adventures of Rad Gravity, The (U)_endingv3

I congratulate you on reaching the end! Until next time…

Abadox (is Pretty Good)

Scrolling shooters are not rare or special. Pick any console you want and you’ll find dozens if not hundreds. They come in horizontal scrolling, vertical scrolling, possibly even diagonal scrolling. And don’t forget some games have scrolling to the right and others have scrolling to the left or scrolling up or down. What can be said about shooters, then? Well, in short, every direction has been scrolled into and lot’s of things have been shot. So now you’re probably wondering, “What can be said about Abadox?” Well, as it turns out, a lot.

Abadox (U)_title

This intro is super subtle yet does a great job to set the mood: you against the planet.

The first thing you’ll notice when you power up that NES will surely be the amazingly hardcore title. I’m no expert on rating goo and goo-like substances but the Abadox title, dripping with whatever that stuff is covered with is the best NES alien goo I have ever seen. It is just amazing. The title is almost too awesome and feels a bit intimidating. Don’t worry though, as the game is, at the very least, as awesome as the title. As the introduction shows, you, the loyal player, control a lone spaceman on a quest to infiltrate a giant alien planet creature to do… something awesome. Press start a couple times and send spaceman on his way!

abadox_horiz

Space-guy on the surface of the dreaded planet-alien.

Abadox starts you in a horizontal scrolling scrolling level with awesome music. The game wastes no time in throwing creatures and power-ups your way. The first thing you’ll notice is how intense this game can be, graphically. In just the first level you enter the mouth of the creature and pass by it’s teeth and tongue.In a wholly-unoriginal-but-still-interesting twist, Abadox will switch between horizontal scrolling and downward vertical scrolling . The vertical sections play identically to the horizontal sections but in a different direction. It’s a nice switch in perspective that adds a lot to the fun and mood.

The 8-bit graphics feel right at home and give the whole experience a perfectly creepy vibe. Whenever I play this game, I am in awe of the whole look and feel of the game. Every level is filled with strange or gruesome creatures, especially the bosses. Getting to the bosses might be a bit of a problem, though not as bad as you’d expect from a shooter.

While many shooters are intimidating in difficulty, Abadox starts slow and does a pretty good job of raising the difficulty rather linearly. There is little to no randomness involved which means you can easily begin to learn the levels and get much better at it. If you are familiar with shooters, Abadox should feel familiar in controls and gameplay; you shouldn’t have any problems. Even after not having played it for several years I was able to get to level 3 on one life just after two tries. That says something about the difficulty, although I’m not quite sure what. Regardless of difficulty, Abadox is worth getting better at just to see the whole game.

abadox_vert

The pulsating organ stuff and sudden grasping muscle-arms… Abadox is made of nightmares.

Abadox manages to be a very cohesive shooter experience. It does an incredibly good job at feeling varied. Each level has it’s own aesthetic and you really will feel like you as progressing through this giant creature’s body. Specifically, the vertical scrolling levels greatly add to the feeling that you’re traveling deep, down into the bowels of the huge creature. You travel into it’s mouth, through it’s digestive tract, pass by some other organs, visit its… robot factory (remember that part of the body?) and eventually come out of it’s alien-planet butt (so so it seems). In addition to the cool areas, each level has a wicked-rad song, although some you’ll hear more than once.

Shooters can be boiled down to two different aspects: shoot things and don’t get hit. While Abadox doesn’t push the boundaries of the genre, it plays very well. In addition to shooting things and avoiding getting hit, there are plenty of power-ups to pick up along the way. The main weapons are spread guns or lasers but there are also several additional power-ups. Missles, shields and small satellite orbs that block shots all expand your viable not-die tactics. It all makes for an enjoyable alien-shooting experience.

The controls are tight, the graphics are great and the music is rocking: Abadox is much more than just a competent shooter, it’s a great example of a lesser-known, high-quality title in the NES library. It’s a tough game, but not too hard to consider it unfair. It’s worth a play just to see all the creepy aliens but even better to play for it’s well crafted experience and gameplay. Play this game or at least watch someone else play it. You’ll be glad you did.

Abadox (U)_Boss_montage_indexed_8_color

As a little treat, here’s a gallery of all the awesome bosses in Abadox. Yes, I used invincibility to record this.

The Flash (is Sluggish)

The Flash is a pretty cool guy. He can run really fast and doesn’t even need to collect Chaos Emeralds! Although a major DC character, the Flash has not enjoyed as much fame as his buddy Superman… but as Superman 64 has shown us, perhaps that is a good thing. While the Flash has been featured in many DC universe properties, he rarely has been the star of his own game. In what may have been his first solo outing, the only Flash game I have had the pleasure(?) of playing is his Game Boy title.

Flash, The_title

I really like this title screen. It’s simple yet somehow feels exciting.

Presented in beautiful DOT MATRIX WITH STEREO SOUND, The Flash is a 2D platformer that has a heavy emphasis on being frustrating, clunky and occasionally fun. With YOU in direct control of the Flash, make your way from the left side of some area all the way to the right side of the area with the intention of punching some dynamite! It’s a fairly standard formula that manages to do a bit right, and a bit more wrong.

Controls

On your journey as the Flash, you get to punch AND kick things! The Game Boy, with it’s two primary buttons, does the best it can accommodate all the actions the Flash needs to perform. Kicking is assigned to one button, punching the other, and jumping, sadly, is UP on the directional pad.The Flash’s normal movement speed is pretty fast but by pressing and holding the A and B buttons, you can use his super speed to racing through the level in a flash (sorry). It’s a reasonable control scheme but there are a couple significant flaws.

Flash, The_gameplay

Level 1: Watch the Flash do some mid-air squats and kick things.

Punching is useless. The kick has a much longer range compared to the measly little punch. Other than the fact that certain things, such as the end of each level, cannot be triggered by kicks, there is no reason to ever punch something. Kicking is always better. I cannot stress this enough. Do not punch.

UP to jump is almost always horrible and The Flash is no exception. Jumping feels very awkward and makes leaping over instant-death pits incredibly nerve racking. It’s hard to explain the weird disconnect-y, laggy-ness to jumping. To compound this, the game is filled with ladders that you must climb. Guess what button climbs ladders? UP! This would be fine if not for the fact that half the time you try to climb a ladder you end up jumping in place.

All the controls feel slightly… off. Everything has some strange lag to it. There’s a bit of a wind-up when attacking which means you have to stutter and anticipate your attacks a bit in order to properly combo an enemy to death. Most noticably, however, is the landing lag. When hitting the ground from a jump, the Flash ducks down for a brief period. It feels very halting and heavily contributes to the overall clunky-ness of the game.

Game Mechanics

Every level is a timed race to the right to disarm a bomb, though not a particularly exciting or hurried race. Enemies each take several hits to kill as does the Flash. The Flash has a fairly generous life bar and it’s even more generous in that every single enemy you kill drops a health pick up. The combat is really dull and easy. Just run up to an enemy, stagger kicks until it dies. That strategy works for every single enemy. It’s trivial until you get the the enemies that shoot. It seems like the shooting enemies will take off 1/4 of your health with each shot. Given how clunky the controls are, it’s often extremely difficult to avoid getting hit.

Everybody knows the Flash is known for running fast. It’s sort of… his thing, you know? By holding both attacks and moving, you can perform the previously mentioned super speed but by standing still you can also perform a power-draining, useless spin-kick move. It drains your super power meter so fast and is so obnoxiously useless that it makes me wonder why it was even put in the game at all. The super speed, on the other hand, is very useful and hardly drains your super meter at all.

Flash, The_scroll

Oh, joy! I love not being able to see where I’m going!

One of the main reasons why I like the super speed is that it causes the screen to show more in the direction you are facing. One of the big platformer no-nos is when the screen doesn’t start to move until you hit the very edge of the screen (I’m looking at you, Turrican!). The Flash suffers greatly from this common retro ailment. As shown in the GIF to your right, notice how little time you get to react to a quickly approaching death-hole. At least super speed causes the screen to show you what’s happening before it kills you.

All the speeding around does come at a price! Using super speed builds up a mighty hunger! Scattered throughout the levels are vending machines at which you must score some delicious snacks. The vending machines will always cost as much money as you have, up to $5. This means, if you have 1-5 dollars, it will use all your money. Depending on how much money you put it, a different snack will come out. Each snack fills up your speed power meter by a considerable amount but the difference between a $1 snack and a $5 snack is so negligible that it always feels like the Flash is getting ripped off.

Dying is a pain in the butt. The good news is that you probably won’t get killed by any enemies. The aforementioned death-holes will most certainly take your life 9 times out of 10. They are everywhere and due to how the screen scrolls, they pop up out of no where. Even more frustrating, you only get a few lives until you are booted back to the title screen. There is a password system to continue progress but dying and continuing both result in you starting at the beginning of the level so it’s just an unnecessary annoyance.

It’s Not All Bad

The Flash does have a few things going for it. Punching and kicking things is always fun and the speedy running feels pretty cool in the context of a Game Boy game. Despite it being shallow and a bit sloppy, there are a surprising amount of levels, interesting music and several distinct environments, including a couple train chase levels. This little game feels like it had some care put into it but not enough to overcome it’s faults. Is it worth playing, though? We’ll just ask the Flash himself…

It was the best five seconds I ever had.

How can you turn this down?!

Catch-22 (is Addicting)

Last year I attended the IndieCade festival hoping to learn a thing or two about video game development. While the discussions were disappointing in several ways, I had the chance to play some really interesting games which redeemed the whole event. I plan to cover several of the games I first experienced at IndieCade so expect more!

Inside of a little tiny tent, far too many interesting looking games were set up at far too tiny little stations. One tiny table was set up with a few iPads showing a weird looking game. I picked up one of the iPads and dived right into to one of the coolest ideas at the festival.

IMG_0294

You, too, can catch this game on the App Store for $.99

Catch-22 is all about points. In the classic arcade-style way, the only goal is to do better than you’ve ever done. The basic premise is that you control either a blue or green orb on a non-stop rotation around a large circle trying to collect little floating tokens. Using an incredibly intuitive one-button control scheme, you must avoid colliding with the opposing orb while trying collect the tokens as fast as possible (their point value decreases the lower they get). While this sounds simple, the game becomes unique and complex once you collect the first token.

catch 22-edit

The trails show the path the orb will take after you switch.

After you collect the last token of a stage, it instantly switches control to the opposing orb and you must avoid the orb you just were. In an creative method to inject strategy into a simple concept, the opposing orb will always mimic the actions of it’s last revolution, the revolution you had direct control of. By performing a lot of complex jumps to get the last token, you’ve just created a whole mess for yourself. Your previous jumps are faithfully recreated by the opposing orb which you must now dodge. You’ve got to be very careful because one hit means game over!

To further spice up the strategy, at the beginning of every stage, you have a couple seconds to safely crash into the opposing orb. Doing so will lose you some points and take you back down one stage but it also erases the orb memory. This lets you “undo” some horrible pattern you may have made, giving you a chance to reach the next stage a bit more cleanly.

This safe-crash can and should be exploited for big points.

This safe-crash can and should be exploited for big points.

While Catch-22 has only one action, jumping, you have a lot of control over how it works. To jump, you just poke the screen anywhere you’d like (except for the music and pause buttons, of course). The apex of your jump is always the same but you can alter its speed by holding you finger down. Long presses result in huge leaps while just a tap will have you making small hops. Since long jumps cause your orb to move more quickly around the circle, you can use combinations of jumps to optimize your spacing with the opposing orb. It may sound a bit strange but after a few minutes it feels very natural.

The soundtrack is very ambient and adds to the experience but it isn’t anything special. Come for the gameplay not for the audio. At $.99, it’s difficult not to recommend this game. Yes, the gameplay is simple and may feel a bit shallow but the concept and execution are solid. If you like high-score types of games, give it a try.

Bugs

Take note that there are little to no features beyond the game. There are many achievements via Game Center but they do not seem to trigger despite me matching what the description says will unlock it. In addition, the “personal highscore” listed on the title screen never seems to update. To check my (accurate) high score I have to view the Game Center leaderboards. While I assume these bugs will eventually be fixed they do not alter the gameplay in any way unless broken achievements is a deal-breaker.

Metroid II: Return of Samus (is Unfinished)

Metroid II is a great game… but it’s a mess. The more you play it, the more it feels like it was released a good 6 months before it should have been. Every step through the corridors reveal obnoxious and obvious errors and design flaws. You should avoid playing Metroid II: Return of Samus unless you want to experience a wonderful game of solid mediocrity.

Inactive Off-screen Enemies

Maybe he had an invisible shield?

Enemies are invincible when “inactive”.

One of the first annoyances you will notice is that enemies can only be hurt when they are on the screen. This means that the instant an enemy leaves the visible boundary, it becomes “inactive” and stops functioning in every way. This means that it stops moving, cannot be hurt, and cannot supply any fun. You are unable to shoot and run  because if you scroll the enemy off the screen, your shots will not hurt it. This occurs rather frequently and, considering how much of the screen Samus takes up, is incredibly frustrating. As a result, you have to be very close to enemies to even hurt them. Shown to the right, is one of the most blatant offenders. The Gamma Metroid is a very large creature who takes up about 1/4 of the screen width. Once it becomes “inactive” it does not become active again until it is entirely on the screen. You can argue that this is a result of memory limitations but I chalk it up to lazy programming and poor design.

Getting Hit Resets Jump State

It's actually faster to do it this way than to use spider ball.

Thanks for the boost, wall-face!

This is one of the most mind-boggling programming oversights I have ever seen in such a high-profile title. For whatever reason, any time you are hurt, for a brief moment you are able to jump. Using this, you can jump into an enemy and jump again reaching heights you are not yet supposed to reach. In the example shown here, Samus is supposed to find the spider ball power to scale this wall. Instead of bothering to use spider ball, you can simply jump, get hit, and jump again to reach the ledge. This “technique” can be exploited in many, many places throughout the game. Being able to do this makes no logical sense, is incredibly easy to do, and potentially ruins the intended item progression of the game by allowing players to skip certain items such as the high-jump boots. Clearly, this is another example of inept programmers at work.

Morph-ball Resets Jump State

Whoooaaaa!

I cannot logically explain this pre-Super Metroid phenomenon.

In what I can only guess is a related programming oversight, any time you exit morph-ball state, you are able to jump. For the same reasons listed above, this is a silly, easily exploitable “technique” that can be used to reach areas you aren’t normally supposed to. In combination with the spring ball item, you can effectively jump twice, jumping while in ball form, exiting ball form in mid-air, and jumping again. Interestingly enough, the same exact bug was present in it’s predecessor, Metroid for the NES. Perhaps the programmers intentionally added this bug (or neglected to fix it) as a kind of throwback to the original game? Or maybe it just happens to be the exact same programming oversight as they did in the first game? I’d like to believe it’s just a an example bad programming at it’s best… twice.

Missle-Only Tiles

I like the spinning action!

This is the only time these cool blocks are every used.

This isn’t a programming error but rather an example of poor game / level design. On exactly one occasion about 3/4 of the way through the game, Samus will encounter a block that can only be destroyed by firing a missile into it. It’s actually a cool block that has a interesting spin-then-explode effect. I like this block. In fact, I like this block a lot. I think it’s really awesome and I am the president of the “You Must Shoot a Missile At the Block to Destroy it in Metroid II” fan club. No, but seriously, this block is disappointingly underused. This sort of block would have had tons of applications, especially earlier on in the game. By utilizing this block more creatively, it would have considerably spiced up level design. It could even have been used to create more of a missile management scenario. It would have been interesting to require the player to use more missiles on these blocks which would leave less for the metroids. Instead, it appears as if the developers almost forgot about this block entirely. At one point, one level designer remembered it, placed two of them down and then forgot about them once again. It’s a shame because the blocks are just so freakin’ cool.

And that’s Not All

In addition to these, Metroid II is filled with even more programming errors and strange, illogical design choices that I don’t have the time to cover. It feels as though they had the base game down but never took the time to refine it. The entire game is a mesh of good and bad experiences which leave me feeling a bit perplexed. It’s an addictive, genuinely fun experience but lacks a certain polish that should be expected from a first-party game.  Metroid II: Return of Samus is a interesting game and if you can bear with all of its issues, it might even be an enjoyable game.

Don’t Ever Stop! (Hit Reset)

I previously explored a few video games bugs that had no major impact on the game. They were fun, interesting and were generally something that had to be done on purpose. There is another category of video game bug; it’s a category that doesn’t rear it’s head that often. I am talking about the dreaded game ruining bugs. These are the bugs and glitches that, once they go into effect, give you no choice but to reset the game. There are many different ways this could happen but today I am exploring one particular phenomenon.

Endless Auto-running

While there are probably more, these three games all exhibit a game halting glitch which causes your character to travel endlessly to the right. There is no way to recover from this once the glitch has taken effect. Even more unfortunate, all three can theoretically be done accidentally!

Donkey Kong (Game Boy)

When you gotta go, you gotta go...

Climb up the ladder at the wrong time and it’s game over.

Ah, yes. Mario is one heck of guy! Year after year he goes out and saves all sorts of ladies from all sorts of animals.  One dreaded night, Mario was on the chase after Donkey Kong. That rascally ape have kidnapped Pauline once again! With Mario in pursuit, Donkey Kong leap and hollered with Pauline under arm. Suddenly and completely by accident, Donkey Kong’s ape-like howling precisely matched an ancient incantation designed to aid marathon runners. Donkey Kong jumped away with Pauline, not knowing what he had done. Mario, now under a powerful spell stopped his pursuit. Without any control of his body, he levitated mere feet above the ground and ran to the right. When he ran as far as he could, he found himself 20 feet behind where he was! He ran and he ran and he teleported and he teleported. Later that night, Donkey Kong, having escaped with Pauline, made a delicious soup out of her bones.

Mario ran on.

Metroid II: Return of Samus (Game Boy)

Naw, guys. It's cool. She knows what she's doing.

In morph ball form, turn around the same time you cause a screen transition and it’s roly poly time.

Samus has been directed to destroy all remaining metroids on planet SR-388. She landed, explored the surroundings, and gathered data. Little did she know, the foreign planet’s natural defenses, an invisible airborne poison, was slowly penetrating her suit. After a rather lengthy time in one of the tunnels, Samus started to feel a little woozy. The poison, bonding with her DNA, began to alter her… for the worse. Her body began to contort and force itself into morph ball form. Samus, unable to break the control of the poison, was thrust to the right. Fully conscious, Samus could do nothing but think to herself as the true, endless journey began. “This is what I have become. This is what I must be. This is what I deserve.” Her body, now one with the planet, freely moved though air, land, water as it traveled toward some unknown goal. She knew. Samus knew, for the rest of eternity, this would be her life. She was sure of it.

That morning the metroids ate her for breakfast.

Ghosts and Goblins (NES)

Round and round he goes, where does he stop? Nobody knows.

Collect a key in the wrong way and it’s bye-bye Arthur.

Arthur was tired. He was really tired. He had just battled though graveyards, cities, caverns and finally to the top of some ominous looking tower, all in his underwear! With the cross in hand and the captive Princess Prin Prin just ahead, Arthur entered Satan’s chamber. In an absurdly easy battle, Arthur destroys Satan in a matter of seconds. This was it! Arthur has saved the day! Suddenly, Arthur was transported back to the graveyard and a voice boomed overhead, “Har har, Arthur! It was all a trick… but this time it’s for real! Do it again and you can have you’re little princess.” Arthur was pretty upset but he knew it must be done! Once again, through the graveyard, city, cavern and up the tower. Arthur, now with dagger in hand, reaches the doorway to Satan’s chamber. Arthur reaches for the door, grips the handle and pulls.

The door does not open. The voice of Satan boomed again “Everybody knows the dagger is totally cheap and unfair. It’s cross or nothin’. Sorry chump.” Arthur, knowing he would have to go back down to the bottom of the tower to recollect the cross, lost his mind. “Whelp… I’m going home.”

And off he went.

And Then it Stopped