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The year was 1984 and I lived on the east side of Las Vegas. Back then the population was probably around 80,000 where as today its close to 2 million! The city wasn’t developed like it is today and it wasn’t uncommon to see vacant desert lots between pockets of houses and shopping centers. Back then when it would sprinkle in town it would flood and it just so happened that my family and I lived in a duplex in one of the lowest points of the valley.
Needless to say we moved. We were now closer to downtown Las Vegas and took residency in a two story apartment that overlooked the back alley of a Smith’s Food King grocery store, a Sav-On Drugs store, and a 3 unit strip mall that had a hair salon, jewelery store, and copy store.
Smith’s had videogames adjacent to their produce section, and it was here that I’d eventually be introduced to the beauty that is Spy Hunter, Sky Shark, Donkey Kong Jr., Quartet, ChopLifter, Side Arms, and of course Double Dragon. Double Dragon was the first game I remember as having a continue feature that players actually used. Prior to that game I never saw anyone actually ‘continue’. To me, once you lost, you lost! Why would anyone want to continue where you died? Obviously you are at a more difficult point, and whatever game you’re playing is only going to get more difficult! For me it was more economical to move on to a new game, or start over. For me it was all about the amount of time I could play a game, and not necessarily how far I could get into a game.
I was intrigued to watch other kids, older kids, BAD KIDS, play Double Dragon. They were fanatics! Pumping quarter after quarter into the machine, arguing over which enemy each would take on. Back then Sky Shark was my game, and its awesome music was drowned out by the music of Double Dragon. But I didn’t mind! I thought the music was terrific! But as I watched the other kids play Double Dragon I started to notice something strangely familiar.
When I lived on the “east side” it was mostly a sheltered life. I never heard profanity. Never saw graffiti. Never saw a street gang. Moving closer to downtown I saw first hand the lower echelons of society. And from my vantage point of the two story apartment I witnessed Double Dragon live – from my patio – in the alley of the Smith’s and Sav-Ons.
To the left is the alley. The area that is inset is where the strip mall was. The Sav-On’s was the bigger building toward the south, and Smith’s was the bigger one to the north. To the right is a long thin wall, and on the other side of the wall is the apartment where I lived.
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It wasn’t uncommon to see street fights in this alley from rival gangs. Although I never saw stabbings, whippings, or large rocks tossed about I did see trash barrels used as weapons. There was plenty of fresh graffiti in that alley and in the late afternoon hours it would frequented by prostitutes, addicts, and would serve as a convenient place for the homeless to void their bowels.
As I got older I would visit the Smith’s simply to play those games. I’d hop the wall, travel the ‘gangland’, dump my quarters then travel back. All the while imagining the Williams, Rowpers, Linda’s, and Abobos that would have a field day in this alley… until they stepped in a fresh crap.
You would think porting The King Of Fighters ’95 to Gameboy would be a disaster, especially when you consider the abortions that Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II, and Killer Instinct were on the portable.
The game has a huge cast with 15 playable characters. All of the favorites are here. And even with only two buttons all of the moves are here.
Rather than trying to make identical sprites which would have bloated the Gameboy down (like Mortal Kombat) Takara decided to redraw them to only the essential pixels. This works well with both the animation and the chosen pallette for each of the colors. As you can see in the scene above and below the green screen loses nothing in terms of appearence. It’s actually quite an impressive acheivement.
There are several different fight modes, backgrounds, and special moves. The music is Gameboy perfect to the Neo Geo counterpart. The game has plenty of replay value, and is a shining example of what could be accomplished on the Gameboy hardware. It’s too bad that Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II, and Killer Instinct sold only by name alone.
Paperboy for Gameboy is an excellent conversion… sorta. As mentioned in the Double Dragon for Gameboy post, Gameboy developers eventually learned how to fully used the hardware to make some fantastic games, and in some respects Paperboy for Gameboy is an excellent game… compared to the NES version. But if you compare junk to junk how could you ever expect to rise above… junk?
The port has everything the NES version has right down to the music. The obstacles are the same, the timing is the same, everything. Perfect the NES version and you’ll easily perfect the Gameboy version of Paperboy. It’s that simple.
But compared to the Arcade original, Paperboy for Gameboy (or NES for that matter) lacks what made the arcade game unique. Like Guitar Hero or Cooking Mama, I consider Paperboy to be work. I’ve never understood why some games that emulate real life become popular. Why play Paperboy, when you can become a real Paperboy and make real money deliverying real papers? Some people might pipe up and say “But you don’t have the crazy obstacles!”
And it’s true, that was really what made the arcade version of Paperboy so cool. You never knew what kind of crazy or obscene happenings would appear on Easy Street. You have people break dancing, a rapist trying to break into a house, a dog attacking you, etc. etc. etc. The Gameboy and NES versions were so stripped down from the crazy obstacles that it had nothing to really look forward to. Sure sometimes the crazy lady with the knife would chase you or the random tire tube rolls out into the street, but thats about it. Boring!
I’d love to see Paperboy remade. I’d like to see it where you deliver papers in a bad neighborhood. Imagine trying to deliver papers in the cross fire of a drive by? Or waking some tweaker stumbling out of a meth house? But it just wouldn’t work. Do drive by victims read newspapers? Do meth addicts use newspapers for anything but toilet paper? It seems I’ve deviated off topic.
Paperboy for Gameboy is excellent in small doses… very small doses. It’s not the greatest game ever made, but there are plenty of crap titles on Gameboy as it is, and this game you can play from the get-go. It’s a no brainer!
Double Dragon for Gameboy is one of my most favorite games for the Gameboy and for any game system for that matter. Let’s find out why…
By the time Double Dragon came out game developers appeared to learn how to fully use the Gameboy hardware to create some fantastic games. Despite its small screen this Gameboy version is on par, and in somecases better than it’s Nintendo NES counter part. Above Marian suddenly got hotter, but yeah, she still takes one to the gut! I think I like her better as a blonde with the goods spilling out of the shirt.
Graphically there are several improvements over the NES version including Billy having slick black hair and more pronounced eyes. The levels all have the same theme as the NES and arcade versions. Alley, Industrial, Woods, and Hideout. There are a few extra areas including the bridge that wasn’t in the NES version.
In this version the Lindas have become hotter as well! No more of the Raggity-Ann in coveralls from the NES version. These Linda’s dress as skanky as Marian and they’ve tied their hair back. Too bad they don’t have any eyes.
After entering the door in the first level you run into the same room where you first encounter Abobo in the NES version except there is no conveyer belt and no Abobo! Instead after killing the Rowpers you have to enter another door where you face Abobo in a room with no other obstacles than him. To some degree he is now easier to kill. A few punches and upper cuts will dispatch him, except… Abobo suddenly has remembered his arcade moves where he’ll grab you by the neck, pound your liver, and toss you to the dirt! Sometimes he’s just a little bit quicker and it feels impossible to avoid this punishment! Another thing to look forward to are the Chin-tais who now have an extra move as well. In the NES version they had a punch, and this nasty move where they’d kick your ankle and you’d fall. Now they will do a jump kick backwards to avoid your move, then jump back towards you and kick your chest. When two of them are on the screen its total chaos!
So all in all this is a fantastic version. There is no more ‘heart system’. You have all of your moves from the very beginning. The moves are more balanced and the hit detection is a lot better than the NES version. Especially for the elbows. You can now punch or kick an opponent, turn around, and punch again to deliver a finishing elbow. You wouldn’t dare try that on the NES version. If there was a complaint though it would be the jump kick. Its so slow and labored and will generally miss your opponent. And Abobo will just grab you out of it and feed you knuckles anyways. This is probably a good thing since jump kicks were rarely used in the arcade version, and over used in the NES version.
And finally… the music. It has all of the tracks of the NES version, plus the full track of the Intermission. Which surprisingly the game doesn’t have intermissions! In the NES version the intermission was about ten seconds long and therefore you heard only ten seconds of the Intermission track… this track is one of the best gaming tracks ever, and in the Gameboy version you’ll get to experience the track as part of the game play in the later levels.
In the final minutes of two Nintendo NES lots on eBay I tossed out two ridiculous bids. Both lots had ten games each. Both had FREE shipping. Grand total I won both for $15.50. BUT WAIT. I had an eBay bucks certificate bringing the total down to $12.59. Seller has more than 1000 transaction with a rating of 100%. DANG! So this is what I won with commentary on what I will do with each:
Ikari Warriors – Own already trash can it
Kings of the Beach – Keep
3-D Worldrunner – Keep
Wrestlemania – Keep
Super Spike V-Ball/World Cup – Keep
Rushin-Attack – Own already trash can it
Tag Team Wrestling – Own already trash can it
Total Recall – Own already trash can it
Thunderbirds – Keep
Top Gun Second Mission – Sell
Winter Games – Keep
Silent Service – Own already trash can it
Ultima Exodus – Can’t remember if I have this one already or not. I think I do. If so trash can it
Videomation – Keep
SPOT – Keep
Smash TV – Keep
Pro Wrestling – Own already trash can it
RoboCop – Sell
Heavy Barrel – Own already trash can it
Iron Tank – Own already trash can it
If anything this auction was totally worth it for SmashTV, 3-D World Runner, and Thunderbirds. Thunderbirds is based on that ridiculous sci-fi puppet show from the 1960′s. It looks like a decent shooter, and it has an opening that is awesome enough to make you crap your pants. 3D World Runner is the Space Harrier of the Nintendo, and SmashTV is SmashTV – I’d buy that for a dollar! Or in this case $12.59
Fortified Zone for Gameboy is a very simple, and quick war game.
You have two soldiers in your arsenal. Some broad, and a guy. The broad can shoot and jump, where as the guy can shoot and throw grenades but can’t jump.
Sprites are pretty large in the game. Including the bullets. Shooting an enemy makes them explode.
The bosses are of reasonable size as well. Considering around this time Gameboy games still had incredibly small sprites with little animation.
Most people could probably beat this game in two or three tries. It’s not that challenging and the over world map is small. The enemy AI is almost none existant, and since everyone (including you) can only walk and shoot either up, down, left, or, right and the fact that there is no variety to enemy fire (it only appears in 8 directions). But the redeeming quality of this game isn’t the graphics, gameplay, or plot but rather the music.
The music is incredible for being a Gameboy game. There is plenty of tempo and emotion behind each track. Jaleco who made the game must of thought the music was great too because they included not one but two sound test modes. The first mode has simple equalizers with two flaming faces.
The second sound test is more of a programmable sound test. The controls were difficult to figure out, but once you do you are treated to a dancing pig. If you leave the controls alone he will move to the music. Or you can jiggle him around as you wish. Even though it has nothing to do with the game or story itself its a pretty neat feature.
So there you have it. I originally bought this game new when it first came out from a Montgomery Wards. Www.VideoGamePriceGuides.Com has Fortified Zone quoted all over the place with the lowest BuyItNow (as of this writing) around 4 bucks although I wouldn’t recommend paying more than $2 for it, and $1.95 of that is for the music.
The internet will be a buzz with stories about the 25th anniversary over the launch of the original Nintendo NES. And rightfully so. Its not uncommon on the day of an important milestone people would reminisce about the event. Typically this behavior is exercised on the anniversary date of disasters… Where were you on 9/11, when the Challenger exploded, Hurrican Katrina…
But the memory of the Nintendo NES is very different then from a disaster. Its more like the memory of a close friend or family member. The NES after all has brought nothing but joy to millions, and it will continue to do so for many more years to come. So without further to do, here are some select memories/milestones I have about the Nintendo NES. Enjoy.
The first memory I have that of the Nintendo NES was visual evidence in the form of a Gradius cartridge. Prior to then the NES was a rumor more than anything else to me. And some rich kid at school had brought it to show it off and I only got to see it at a distance. I was familiar with the Super Mario Bros. arcade game, and I had heard bought this amazing game in almost identical fashion could be played at home. Truly a sight to be seen!
Next I remember a Target store having rows and rows of Nintendo games. They were on those vid-pro cards where you can flip the label and read the description and view the screenshots. It was incredible. Before then it always seemed that video game cartridges were just sold in stacks. The colors were amazing.
PlayChoice 10. The “Pay For Play” NES.
I had a friend in Junior High who had Track N Field II. I didn’t realize how badly the game sucked until I’d own a copy two years later.
December 9th, 1990. More than 5 years after it’s launch I finally get my first NES. I bought it from a Sav-On’s drug store. Desert Commander and Track N Field II was purchased next.
Almost at the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after weeks of being defeated time and time again my grandfather drops the house phone onto the power adapter of the Nintendo effectively ending the game. It would be almost two decades before I’d try the game again.
January 27th, 1991. It was a Sunday. Super Bowl Sunday. I was reduced to playing my new copy of Guardian Legend on a 5 inch black and white TV screen. Stupid football.
Walmart became a good source of cheap NES games including SkyShark, Zelda 1, and Punch Out. Kmart yielded Skate Or Die.
1997: Saw a Nintendo NES with Super Mario Bros 3 in a pawnshop for $35. Seemed ridiculously over priced.
1998: In California Thrift stores saw piles of NES accessories.
2001: While in Laughlin a Famiclone catches my eye.
2002: My interest in the Nintendo NES was rekindled after playing the abomination Grand Theft Auto III. This is entertainment?
2005: Built an NES PC – regretted mutilating the shell. Will NEVER do that again.
2009: Started actively collecting NES Games
May 2009: Started Www.VideoGamePriceGuides.Com to get more accurate prices on Nintendo Games.
Spring 2010: Surpassed 200 Nintendo games. Started buying NES games exclusively in lots for the purposes of reselling
Summer 2010: Went to the Classic Gaming Expo. NES Lives.
Fall 2010: Nintendo NES turns 25 years old.
With Super Mario Bros. turning 25 what better way to celebrate than to listen to Bill O’Reilly’s Special Report.
Well… I finally received the wrong copy of Rolling Thunder 2. You might be asking how it could be the wrong copy, since there is only one version available on SEGA Genesis. If you’ve been following my tirade then you know I bought a second copy out of spite. Well this copy arrived first even though the first copy was won and purchased two days earlier.
I’ve been on vacation and was expecting the original copy and the other 8 games I bought with it would have already arrived. But of course, it didn’t. And to add insult to injury I received a notification from the seller that the item ‘shipped’… 8 days after the fact with the description stating ‘usually ships within 1 day of receiving payment’. Boo!
This is meant for fun only…