Monday, February 01, 2010

Classic or Crap? Volume 1

There are hundreds, nay thousands of old games available for the classic systems, so finding a new one to play can be quite a daunting prospect. The chances of finding a duffer are fairly high. So in the first of what I hope will become a regular series, I will be taking a look at a random game and deciding whether they are classic, or crap. I realise that this is not an absolute science and there are some games that are almost worthy of classic status but a few significant flaws hold them back from greatness, so in these cases I shall weigh up the good/bad elements of the game and assign them as I see fit. If you disagree with any of my judgments then feel free to leave a comment. I also plan to shoot some footage for my YouTube channel but this will depend on whether I can get my headset to work properly. A lot of these games will also be completely new to me - the way they've been picked is by a random name selector called "The Hat". So let's take a look at the first game...

1. Little Samson - NES - Taito - 1992

The first thing that struck me about this game is how good it looks. A lot of NES games suffer from bad slowdown or flickering pixels, but not so with Little Samson. This is largely due to the game being a fairly late release in the lifespan of the system, so the developers at Taito had learned all the tricks, but this doesn't detract from the technical achievement.

Upon starting the game, you are presented with a level select screen, with each one having its own character. There's a small boy (Little Samson himself), a green dragon thing, something that looks like it could be a golem, and a tiny mouse. These can be done in any order and each character has slightly different abilities. Samson and the mouse can both cling and climb to walls, the dragon can hover short distances, and the golem is very powerful with a punch attack. Once all four of these brief levels are dealt with, it becomes clear that they are merely the tutorial to the main game - after a fairly easy scrap between Samson and the dragon, the game proper begins.

Things continue to be fairly straightforward until you reach the games first proper boss - an evil wizard guy. Bash him around a bit and he will be defeated - only to suddenly transform into something that looks like a demon. It is at this point that I was annihilated - over and over again. I must admit, I have yet to get past this boss, but I've no doubt with enough persistence and gnashing of teeth I would prevail. I can't really blame the controls of the game - they are logical, fast and responsive. All in all the game feels like a really good arcade cabinet, except it's all been done on the NES hardware. Taking a look at gameFAQs, there's plenty to do - 18 levels not including the tutorial stages. The game has yet to be released on the Wii's Virtual Console, but if it does appear I would really recommend downloading that, or failing that, seeking out the actual cartridge.

Edit: I didn't realise that you could change character at any point by pressing the Start button and choosing them, so this time I switched over to the Golem and beat the boss fairly easily. Now I might actually make some progress!

Verdict: A true classic, no doubt about it.

Sorry the picture is so out of focus in the video!

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