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

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The Immortal (is Not Fun)

I was very saddened by the loss of Nintendo Power. No, I did not have a subscription for much of its existence but I appreciate its legacy. Nintendo Power offered a small glimpse into the future of games and the not-so-Mario games of the current Nintendo generation. Although my memories are weak with age, I will never forget the one game that necessitated the existence of the Nintendo Power magazine:

Oh god, why?!

Electronic Arts presents: You are going to want to kill yourself.

The Immortal is an isometric adventure game where you take the role of a wizard-looking man who is on a journey to escape a dungeon and potentially rescue another man from maybe another another man. The Immortal also happens to be a port of an Apple IIGS game. Let me first mention that I had no idea a computer called the Apple IIGS even existed until now and that the most bearable part of The Immortal, the graphic violence, is severely toned down in the NES port. Also, it’s probably worth noting that I wish this game was never made.

I was not prepared.

Prepare to continue dying.

To say the least, The Immortal is a very hard game. More accurately, The Immortal is so difficult that it borders on being a psychological test. It is designed to be extremely unforgiving and extremely trial and error based. This game loves you kill you. It loves to kill you constantly. I loves killing you even though you are careful. This is mostly because everything will kill you. In fact, in 75% of the cases, there is no way to tell what will kill you until you are killed by it. If you are prepared to be killed, you are prepared to play The Immortal.

Getting killed every 20 seconds isn’t necessarily the worst part of this game. The worst part of The Immortal stems from what I would like to call its “bad adventure game” aspect. A good adventure game rewards you for thinking abstractly enough to figure out the puzzles. A bad adventure game gives you little to no clues to complete necessary puzzles and punishes the player for attempting creative solutions. In the first level alone, there are three items that will instantly kill you if used. This wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t limited to 3 lives. Yes, after 3 deaths you must start over from the beginning of the level. The Immortal’s main issue is not that it is a bad adventure game, it’s that it’s just too frustrating to play to have an enjoyable, rewarding experience.

In order to get any enjoyment out of this game, you must be using a guide. When I was a child, I watched my brother play through this game using his trusty Nintendo Power. Nintendo Power was known for containing vary detailed guides and their The Immortal guide was top-notch. The puzzles and proper orders to complete this game are far too challenging to attempt without a guide, especially with the 3 life limit. Nintendo Power was a real life saver. Using a guide, you can turn The Immortal from an aggravating, brain-melting death-fest to just an aggravating death-fest. Although it’s no longer brain-melting, it doesn’t make it any more fun.

Please do not play The Immortal. It is not worth it. Or maybe it is… what do I know?!

Every Unique Death in Level 1

Immortal, The (U)- death

You will see many of these. Some of them more than once. The rest more than 10 times.

  1. Worm trap
  2. Ground flame trap
  3. Goblin smack
  4. Wall fireball
  5. Bat attack
  6. Using worm bait
  7. Arrow from wall trap
  8. Hidden pitfall
  9. Using mushroom spores
  10. Invisible Shade enemy
  11. Falling down ladder hole
  12. Reading Amulet incantation

Blaster Master (is Awesome)

I remember being a child when renting video games was still a thing that people did. Those days were so awesome! It was really exciting looking at a whole shelf full of games and getting to pick just one. It was quite possible that whatever I picked would make or break my entire weekend. Now, I don’t remember exactly when I first played the it but I can still vividly remember the entire game. I imagine myself running inside, jamming the cartridge into my NES, hitting power and just sitting in awe at the absurd awesomeness that followed:

You can't see it here but the letters flash like crazy.

I am so pumped!

Blaster Master is a game for people who love games that are fun. It is one of those games that, as soon as it starts, you know you’re in for a treat. The name itself “Blaster Master” speaks volumes. What are you going to do? Blast! What it your blasting skill level? Mastery! Why are you going to do it? Nobody cares why,  especially the developer Sunsoft! When Sunsoft brought the game to the US, even they knew that people don’t care and just want to shoot things with a sweet looking tank. Take a look at this amazing, hyper-realistic cinematic masterpiece of an introduction (starts with him poking the bowl):

There's just more to love, now.

Admit it. You would do the same if you had the chance.

This is absolutely the greatest possible opening for this game. I will accept no arguments.

In case you don’t understand the GIF, let me explain: Jason’s frog escapes from his bowl, leaps to a nearby radioactive waste container out in front of the garage, instantaneously begins to mutate to enormous sizes (by frog standards), leaps down an enormous-frog-sized hole, and is pursued down the hole by his loving owner, Jason. Jason then discovers a suit of armor and tank and decides it is the key to recovering his beloved frog.

Grey? Gray? Whatever... just shoot it!

Shootin’ some grey things and grabbin’ some P’s.

Blaster Master is awesome. Some people will claim otherwise (take note of these people for they should be ignored in the future) and they are objectively incorrect. Yes, it is a little rough around the edges but what NES game wasn’t? The general gameplay consists of Jason driving a tank around side-scroller style searching for things to shoot until you find Jason-sized doorways . You then explore these areas sans-tank in a top-down overhead fashion looking for more things to shoot until you can find something really big to shoot. Destroying the really big thing grants you a tank upgrade that allows you to explore more of the world to find bigger and better things to shoot.

The creatures you end up shooting look very bizarre. Take a look at the grey thing in the picture, for instance. What is it?! I’ve examined the sprite but cannot figure it out at all. It’s a grey bipedal person-oid that hopped around like a madman. Why do these things even hate Jason and the tank? Maybe they just have some sort of inherent hatred for “masters” who “blast” things? Regardless of why, these guys sure are fun to blast!

I just like to call him the "brain" thing.

Apparently, his name is Cramitor…

Besides the sheer satisfaction of shooting things, Blaster Master offers quite a big adventure. The game is Metroid-esque in the way that, although the game is split into distinct areas, you are free to go back and forth as you please between locations. In fact, the overall design requires that you revisit old areas. One of my favorite aspects of Blaster Master is how fun it feels to explore the game. Instead of just painting each area with different graphics and calling it new, the developers made each area feel unique as each area has a distinct look, music, and level construction. Because of the fun and interesting upgrades backtracking never feels dull as it gives me new chances to try out the tanks new abilities.

The tank decided to take dip too...

A leisurely swim after a rough day of killing things.

The upgrades give your tank abilities you never even knew you wanted. How about one that lets you fly? Death from above! How about literally driving up the walls? Do it! Walls not enough? How about driving on the ceiling? The sky is the limit! It’s almost as if the people at Sunsoft thought to themselves “What is more fun than a jumping tank of wanton destruction?” in which  one man, probably sitting in the corner of the room drinking a juice box, said, “How about instead of just jumping it can go, like, where ever?” I assume this was immediately followed by a round of high-fives.

Let’s face it: this game is frickin’ awesome. It’s not perfect but it’s just so great to play. Who cares about the little problems when there is so much fun to be had. If you haven’t played Blaster Master yet, I preemptively accept your apology. Now go out and play it somehow. You owe it to yourself.