Prepare to Die.
A Game Nietzsche would be proud to play.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #44/100
Few things can suck away your spirit to live like an opaque Nihilistic quote or a game designed to steal your pocket change. If I had to choose between reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra or playing Gradius for a day, I’m not sure which I would choose.
Gradius is more worthy as a portal through time than a game. It harkens back to a day where video games were enjoyed in the public sphere, not in the private seclusion of your own home. These big boxes the size of caskets were tucked away in every nook and cranny and were only momentary diversions while waiting for a pizza or friend. They were not meant to be prolonged and protracted affairs.
This arcade game ported to the NES is no different. Death comes early and often, an obvious ploy to guzzle more quarters. The difficulty ramps to obscene heights. What’s scary is how quickly the dial gets turned up: getting through stage 1 is somewhat of an achievement. As your ship explodes from an array of stray laser fire that dots the screen in a potpourri of projectiles, you will be asking yourself….
…does anything matter?
Continue reading “Top 100 NES Review: #44 – Gradius (1986)”
A Magic School Bus Tour of the Intestines.
This game made me ponder: what’s inside my bowels?
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #100/100
You know if you stretched out your small intestines, they would be as long as 22 feet. While Abadox is only a measly six levels, it’s going to feel like it is much longer, just like your jejunum and ileum. That’s because during the space invasion through the gut of an alien, you will die many times by its angry inhabitants. I haven’t seen a GI system this upset since I ate a whole pizza and half a chicken in one sitting.
Continue reading “Top 100 NES Review: #100 – Abadox: The Deadly Inner War (1989)”
Figuring out maps, finding key cards, and solving puzzles. It doesn’t take much to impress me on NES.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #19/100
It’s fun to play Kojima’s original Metal Gear. It has all the motifs and feel of the 3D versions but none of the bloated, hour-long cutscenes. With such sparse space, Kojima couldn’t sink into indulgent, convoluted narration that plagues the later Metal Gear Solids. Regardless, you still feel the imposing gravity of the situation: you are a sole infiltrator against every odd to save the world.
Another plus of Kojima not being able to go crazy with flair is you see how good he is at actually making a game. There is nothing to hide behind except the basics, and he passes with flying colors even though this is a port he isn’t exactly happy about. Of course, the NES likes to ruin a good time (plenty of cheap things to get pissed about) but the core is everything you could want from a game this old.
Continue reading “Top 100 NES Review: #19 – Metal Gear (1988)”
The NES Tries to Steal Perfection From Me Again.
Why can’t things just be good and wholesome on this devil of a system?
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #25/100
I always start these games with the best of intentions: no guides, embrace the grind, willing to flounder. The drama of these games are in the struggle, and if you run to a walkthrough at the first moment of adversity, you will destroy anything these old games have to offer. The joy is figuring out the puzzles both via your own skill and serendipitous discovery.
Crystalis started as the type of game you do these top 100 lists for: a complete joy of an unknown. The graphics, mechanics, and puzzles are an addictive pull to do more. It was an instant favorite, but then came the moment that happens in every NES adventure/puzzle/RPG — the inscrutable puzzle with no hints and no logic but is required for you to continue. Thankfully, it survives this moment and avoids the NES’s ultimate desire to make every game unenjoyable.
Continue reading “Top 100 NES Review: #18 – Crystalis (1990)”
A False Sense of Choice.
You might think you are playing SMB2, but really it’s playing you.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #21/100
As the odd ball, SMB2 does a lot of things never seen before: it prominently incorporates a transgendered bird, hides rocket ships in plain sight by masquerading them as root vegetables, and allows the consumption of a potion for us to see dark world reflections of reality.
During this adventure, we feel like we are the driver of our thoughts, allowed to make character selections and win extra lives in roulette. Little do we know that SMB2 is playing with house money, and we are just along for the ride.
Continue reading “Top 100 NES Review: #21 – Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988)”
No Safe Spaces Allowed.
This game should be renamed to Zelda II: The Adventure of Microaggressions.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #25/100
I just listened to a podcast with Joe Rogan and Jonathan Haidt. The topic was the culture of college campuses and the creation safe zones — places where you are free from discomfort. Haidt, a psychologist, thinks this is creating fragile personalities, ones that can not withstand the stresses of living in a functioning society when these students enter post-college life.
When looking at other reviews for this game, I saw people saying Zelda II is too hard, unfair, confusing, petty, cruel, and cheap. Was it this same sanctuary attitude churning out gamers unwilling to be challenged? I decided to play this game guide free* to see if the standards were truly unreasonable.**
* It didn’t happen.
Continue reading “Top 100 NES Review: #25 – Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)”