Trojan NES Review

TrojanBoxart

Before we get into today’s review, let’s have a quick history lesson (which is I’m sure why you’ve come to this site). After the 1983 video games crash, one of the points learned was that it was foolish to have pictures and ultra high realistic designs on game cartridges and box art of games such as those on the Atari, when the gameplay itself had less than impressive graphics. The reason I mention this? Well looking at the box art of today’s review, Trojan, is it infeasible to think the graphics that are shown on the box can match those in game? Nintendo did learn from mistakes of years yore with their black box designs and having enlarged pixellated characters from in -game onto the box, so how will Trojan fair, even with its one megabit memory, will the NES handle the awesome graphics with the fire and shining sword? Read on dear reader, read on…

Trojan1

Our character is the same size as hell – someone save us all…

Trojan is a side-scrolling action game, a genre that the library of the console has in plentiful supply. Originally it was an arcade game which was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987 and although arcade ports of games to the console do not always convert well (controls for Marble Madness…) how can side-scrolling hack and slash games go wrong? The game is set in what seems to be a future world which isn’t described as 200x like in Megaman or some random date hundreds of years in the future, however your character looks like someone that could have come directly from the medieval era, or even worse a character from Dragon’s Lair! Armed with a sword and shield as a primary form of attack, if this fails your character does possess martial art skills so all is not lost. The idea of the game is to go through the levels from left-to right (which makes me wonder what games go from right to left? Hmm…) hacking and slashing your way past the enemies to get to the level sub-boss. There is an end of level boss as well that you will need to fight to progress through the game, and with 6 levels in total you will need all your Contra-training hack and slash experience for this and the reflexes of a snooker player thats hyped up on sour Skittles.

The poor burnt Beetle - it didn't deserve that

The poor burnt Beetle – it didn’t deserve that

So turning on the game it brings you straight to the main menu, no dithering and no developers logo’s. You get the option of playing 1 player, 2 player or a versus option. The 1 player is pretty self explanatory in that you complete the levels yourself, whereas the 2 player mode is not both players on the screen at the same time like Streets of Rage or Battletoads, it’s more akin to Super Mario Bros where the player completes the level and carries on until he dies to which the second player then starts the game. Finally there is a versus mode, which was not in the arcade version. The two of you slug out mano y mano in a creepy wooded dungeon, or brown-coloured stone dungeon who knows, but its winner takes all in a 2 out of 3 victory fight. It’s good that you have the option of not always doing the main quest together if all you want to do is slug it out.

As mentioned you start off with a sword and shield to attack and defend with, which provides an effective way of defeating the enemies. At some points where magic fire balls are thrown at you, the sword and shield are out of your possession which although can be collected later, you have to rely on your bare hands and fists to attack with. Although you cannot choose to fight with bare fists, if you have a big samurai sword and a shield that would be the envy of Kokiri folk why would you want to fight bare fisted? You also can collect special power ups along the way, such as boots that make you jump high (but only if your standing still and jump, you cannot diagonal jump) or hearts that restore your health. What’s good about your character is that he has a health bar rather than hit them once or twice than die however it is easy to lose health when the enemies start beating seven bells out of you, you don’t temporarily become invincible you can easily have your health drained.

Certainly a fighter not a lover...

Certainly a fighter not a lover…

So in terms of the controls, attacking wise it’s pretty straight forward where the A button raises your shield and the B button makes you attack with your sword. You move your character with the left and right buttons and duck with the down d pad. However it is one of those games where to jump isn’t the A or B Buttons, no it is in fact the up button. This doesn’t help when on the first level you soon come across a manhole cover to which rather than jump, you fall through it. Fortunately it is another room where you obtain the jumping boots however it seems you won’t know what jump is unless you mess around the buttons. The music seems to be a mish mash of notes and noises with no clear pattern, it certainly keeps you on your toes but can cause irritation after a while so keep your music device ready on standby, because with the music and the sound effects, which are nothing exciting but does the job to a standard level, you may need your music device. In terms of the graphics, there are blues and brown colours a plenty which again do the job adequately with the buildings in the background and the enemies defined boldly and are quite colourful, so Capcom did a put a lot of effort into this port and the graphics definitely show this.

So all in all, Trojan is a nice game to add to your collection and certainly had time and attention devoted to it. The controls are nice and responsive and even now it is very satisfying to slash the enemies with your sword and defend yourself with the sword. The game itself is one where if you had an hour or two spare, it certainly is one to dedicate your attention to as it is well crafted and made. Although it is a shame that the multiplayer is not both players on the screen at the same time, this was a game released early in the console’s lifespan so it is safe to assume that having both players on screen as a co op would come later and not developed at that time. It’s a shame there isn’t a save feature or a password system so do be careful and get your gaming experience on, as your going to need it. Copies of the game aren’t that cheap however certainly not too expensive that it is out of reach for collectors. So go on, get your sword and shield out and head back to the future and show them how it’s done and do me a favour – please tell the developers to not use up for jumping in games in the future, my thumb’s gone all weak now…

Rating – 4 out of 5

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Tiny Toon Adventures NES Review

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It’s been known through various gaming reviewers than NES games based upon films were not the best in the library – typical examples cited are games based off of films such as Back To The Future, Jaws and anything that the glorious rainbow of LJN happened to produce in the late 80’s / very early 90’s. Video games based off of TV shows on the other hand, well unfortunately it is luck of the draw. Take Airwolf for instance, an earlier review here gave it an average 3 out of 5, or you could be fortunate enough to play American Gladiators or Win Lose or Draw and have a whale of a time. The third side of the coin if ever there was one would be to play something as moribund as The Simpsons. So based on another cartoon that debuted in 1990, we have Tiny Toon Adventures featuring the characters off the same show. So could this be another Simpsons piece of dirge, or could the rainbow around the cover be nicer than anything LJN had to offer?

Remind you of a game much? That uses frog suits? Mario 3??

Remind you of a game much? That uses frog suits? Mario 3??

Tiny Toon Adventures is a platform game which “borrows” or utilises a number of features that was prominent in Super Mario 3, when you play the game it will feel like Mario 3 just in the Tiny Toon environment. It was in fact the very first Tiny Toons game released for any home console, so if you’re going to base your first game on anything it’s certainly not a bad decision to base the game on one of the most popular games on the console, if not ever.  So when you turn on the game, you see the map to which there are 6 worlds, which as in all games you start from World 1. The worlds are The Hills, The Wetlands, The Trees, Downtown, Wackyland and Montana Max’s Mansion. As well, you meet Shirley who advises you that you need to choose a partner, from Plucky Duck Dizzy Devil or Furball. Although it’s not clear what powers they possess at this stage and what their for, pick a character and then away we go.

Mmm...pork chop...

Mmm…pork chop…

The idea is to complete each level going from left to right as per most platforming games, stomping on the enemy’s head and collecting not coins, but carrots on each stage. Collect 30 of them and you can exchange them with Hampton at a certain point in the level extra lives, and believe me your going to need them. When you encounter enemies it’s one hit kill – no health bar as such like in Megaman to sap your life.  You can collect a heart, which is not currency as per Castlevania but should you have collected a heart and you get touched by an enemy, you don’t die but the next touch will kill you. It is easy enough to collect carrots on each level so you shouldn’t have any issues in getting an extra life however you may feel your repeating the same stage again when you inevitably die and need to get your extra lives back. During the level, if you encounter a star ball, you then turn into your partner – no not Babs but the character you selected before the level started. Depending on the character you selected, they each have their own unique abilities. Plucky Duck can fly albeit for a short amount of time, Dizzy can spin attack through enemies and walls, and finally Furball can climb up vertical walls and slowly go down them. The only way to turn back into Buster is to collect another star ball, so get acquainted with your partner.

Your ideal Valentine's Day Date?

Your ideal Valentine’s Day Date?

The controls are of the standard platforming fare, the d pad moves Buster, A button jumps and the B button seems to make your character speed up, like in Super Mario Brothers – though that could be my imagination or it did seem in fact that Buster did move faster. The controls are solid enough and responsive however when you go hurtling into an enemy without having collected a heart and knowing your going to lose a life, it can be quite frustrating however this is where you need to demonstrate your reflexes as quick as a mongoose being shot up the ass with a slingshot. The music, well most people would know the Tiny Toons music and able to hum a few bars from it. The game recreates the theme music faithfully, however unlike other games that use the music from the TV or film it’s based on, the same theme repeats over and over and over again throughout the game. If you liked the theme, take my advice and after the first couple of times then mute it, put on your iPod or CD player and do not listen to this because it will drive you insane. It is a shame because the sound effects are not bad either – again a typical platforming fare with the jumps in the right places and when you get killed a short piece of music. If it wasn’t for the same loop of music it would be worth keeping the sound on just for the sound effects alone, but alas they had to ruin a good thing.

So all in all, Tiny Toon Adventures is not a game that will be an exciting addition to your collection, it’s an average platforming game that isn’t the most difficult game, however where the real challenge lies is ensures you don’t fall asleep and that you remain challenged intellectually. The game differs no more than the plethora of platforming games that graced the NES console, however if you are a fan of the classic animation it certainly is one to collect. It differs no more than to say Bugs Bunny’s Birthday Blowout, and if you want a perfect example of a platforming game done well, then the obvious choices would be something like Metroid or the classic Mario 3. Copies of the game can be found at all good retro game stores and on the internet auction site of your choosing, so do check it out as the game certainly isn’t bad, but unless your eating a ghost pepper whilst playing this, it verges on the beige and the average. If it was a colour it would be grey – very uninspiring, bereft of personality, redeemed only by the characters from whence it originated from. In today’s society who wants that, to be grey and bland? Certainly not me…

 

 

Rating – 3 out of 5