Top 100 NES Review: #100 – Abadox: The Deadly Inner War (1989)

A Magic School Bus Tour of the Intestines.

This game made me ponder: what’s inside my bowels?
Abadox The Deadly Inner War Title ScreenSydlexia’s Ranking: #100/100
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

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.

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Top 100 NES Review: #19 – Metal Gear (1988)

Surprisingly Fun.

Figuring out maps, finding key cards, and solving puzzles. It doesn’t take much to impress me on NES. 

Metal Gear NES Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #19/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

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.

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Top 100 NES Review: #18 – Crystalis (1990)

The NES Tries to Steal Perfection From Me Again.

Why can’t things just be good and wholesome on this devil of a system?

Crystalis 1

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #25/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

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.

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Top 100 NES Review: #25 – Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)

No Safe Spaces Allowed.

This game should be renamed to Zelda II: The Adventure of Microaggressions.

screen shot 2019-01-02 at 6.42.05 pm

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #25/100
My Rating:smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

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.
**They were. 

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Top 100 NES Review: #31 – Dr. Mario (1990)

The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis.

The rise of drug-resistant staph and pneumonia has its roots in this Mario-themed, puzzle game.

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Dr. Mario after completing his residency at Mushroom Kingdom Health Systems.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #31/100
Developer:  Nintendo
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

There is a healthcare crisis in this country right now. As we look at ways to manage costs, it is important to be self-reflective and address instances of abuse and waste.

Look no further than Dr. Mario. His clinical practice guidelines consist of the over prescription of antibiotics. Not only does this not make sense (after all, the diagnosis is a viral infection that won’t respond to this type of treatment), he runs the risk of creating new strains of diseases that will be resistant to the very antibiotics he continues to dispense.

While the ethics of Dr. Mario’s decisions come into question, his puzzle adventure game does test the mind and makes one believe that, they too, can practice medicine.

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Top 100 NES Review: #46 – Kirby’s Adventure (1993)

The Archetypal Hero

Kirby shows up fashionable late to the NES party and provides a final jolt to a dying system with this introspective tale of fulfilling the Hero Archetype.

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Kirby destroying the ecology. Mercy, Mercy Me.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #46/100
Developer: Hal Laboratory
Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

This game has a lot of Japanese flair — I’m not sure how else to put it. Your character is a pink puffball that sucks in monsters and steals their abilities. Mini-games includes eating as many eggs as possible and an old Western dual. The opening sequence is a how-to-tutorial of how to draw kirby (“First you draw a circle…”). Your journey begins in vegetable valley and ends with a battle flight through the stars. This game leaves no ground uncovered, including the collective consciousness.

Along the way, you may become attached to the trials and desires of the pink enveloper, but by the end you realize that Kirby’s playful facade is just a cover for his performance as a Carl Jung archetype: the hero.

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Top 100 NES Review: #60 – Double Dragon II: The Revenge (1989)

LIFE ISN’T FAIR

And other life lessons learned from Billy and Jimmy Lee in this erudite, side-scrolling, beat-em-up adventure.

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Billy Lee pondering his place within the technicolor dreamcoat of his existence.

Sydlexia’s Rating: #60/100
Developer: Technos Japan
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

The beat-em-up genre defined an entire generation. Its repetitive-button smashing released personalized-serotonin hits allowing us to feel good while eschewing any actual personal development. I don’t know of any other category of video game that so easily mixes repeated motions with such a sense of accomplishment – complete entertainment with little effort.

Except when the Double Dragons are involved. 

What we have here is a compact set of nine levels, beautifully architected for the pithy purpose of teaching us that life’s lottery doesn’t always come up triple 7s. A perfect compliment to my summer of mismanaged love and unfortunate living arrangements, Double Dragons II helped me cope with the idea that this isn’t all my fault.

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