Anticipation NES Review – Review A Bad Game Day

Just before the review, a huge thanks to everyone who has contributed to Review A Bad Game Day, to @nintendo_legend and to 1 More Castle for organising the day, to all the retro guys on Twitter and to everyone reading this – many thanks!

Rare have contributed a lot to video gaming society. They gave us Banjo the Bear, Kazooie the feisty Bird, GoldenEye, R.C Pro Am amongst others. How can you dislike a company that brought us those gems? No-one however is infallible, there has to be some poop in the wilderness to find the diamonds, or as David Brent once quoted, “To see the rainbow, you need to feel the rain”. It just so happens that Rare created a rain full of turds, pee and other unwholesome ingredients without providing the gamers an umbrella to shield away from. How could a game be that bad? Well read on readers…

Board games are designed to be played round tables in log cabins, fire roaring, warm cocoa in china mugs, snow falling outside, families arguing that the dice wasn’t rolled properly. Well in my mind that’s what it should be, albeit with cheesy music in the background. Board games should not be played on consoles in lieu of Mario, Sonic and all our favourite characters. But this is what Rare did in 1988, proclaiming Anticipation to be “Nintendo’s first video board game”. Being the first doesn’t mean it’s bad in anyway, look at Back to the Future, but did it set a high bar for generations to follow?

Anticipation is a set like a board game, the purpose of which is to guess the pictures being drawn on the screen in a dot to dot fashion. If you know what the picture is, you have to guess the word to win the piece and move up a level. Complete the levels to win the game. It really is that simple. And that dull. Turning on this bad boy, after waiting what seems like an eternity to press start to skip to the menu and mashing the controller in the process, your presented with the option of selecting the number of players between 1-4, that’s represented by a teddy bear, horn, shoes or a duck-looking ice cream. Then selecting the computer players, and then finally the skill level from Easy through to very hard and then your on your way. The main difference in difficulty is that very hard for example you don’t even see the dots, you have to guess from the movements what the computer is drawing, which defeats the idea of a dot-to-dot game. I’d rather watch my 3 year old nephew high on e-numbers go crazy on an easel with paint and crayons. It’d be easier to guess what he’s drawing compared to this game.

Subconsciously, it’s reminding everyone to play Space Invaders instead of this

On the game screen you have to guess the word what is being drawn ever so slowly in a dot-to-dot fashion (to which they’re not numbered – a crime against all dot-to-dot puzzles). If you think you know what the crudely-drawn picture is, press the A button to bring up the letters along the bottom and type in the word, again oh so slowly. I never liked NES games that had the whole alphabet along the bottom which you had to select the letters individually, which is why board games never worked well on NES. You only have 30 seconds to write the word so prepared to get your best Track and Field fingers ready and mash that left and right button. Often your likely to mis-spell the word or confuse the word with something else that looks similar, and if you get 3 wrong attempts your blocked from the rest of the round, causing you to sit there whilst the other players enviously look on at you knowing you can do something else other than play this crap, like watch paint dry.

Trivial Pursuit has never looked more appealing


The colours are very bland and very black, and the graphics although bold, are not the most exciting you’ll find in the NES library. There’s lots of olive greens and brick reds, is perfect for the horticulturalists who play the game, but well-educated, professional people will be doing something more constructive than play this, they’ll be playing Trivial Pursuit, not guessing that a cola can is infact a soda pop can, or whatever the hell it is. To be fair, the music is pretty upbeat and jaunty, which is the game’s one redeeming feature, but with the sound effects sounding like something from an Atari game (which back then is no bad thing, but not for now) but if you liked the music you may as well put on a CD and turn this abomination off. The controls, well there is none, just pressing the A button guess your answer and moving the cursor along the row of letters when you guess.

Not even divine intervention can help this game

Since Anticipation came out, there has been a plethora of board games on home consoles, all of which will never do the real games justice. Board games are designed to be played in groups on tables with the physical pieces or drawing things in real life. Having your Nintendo draw the pictures is not as fun as it seems, and as it draws as quickly as a snail having coitus, there are plenty of other things to be doing with your time, like eating sandwiches with sewing needles inserted into it or playing a real game for the NES. This game truely ranks amongst the lowest of all the Nintendo games, for its dullness, crude drawings, fast timing slow writing answer-giving, and its all-round badness that makes you wonder why you brought your friends round to play it. If you have people over and want to play games, stick to the traditional routes of Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit, hell break out the Nintendo for Ivan “Ironman” Stewart or 4-player Tennis, but steer well clear of this, if only to keep your role as entertainment provider at your next dinner party. I’m off now to salvage the friendships of those who had to endure this for the review of this game and placing this game where it truly deserves – at the bottom of the rubbish dump just above soiled nappies.

Rating – 0 out of 5


One comment on “Anticipation NES Review – Review A Bad Game Day

  1. Couldn’t disagree more. I had a lot of fun with this game back in the day. It’s not perfect but certainly way better than zero

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