Oldies but Goodies -Bart vs the Space Mutants

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  NES

The Simpsons have been around for a long, long time.  Along their long history have come some pretty good video games.  One that I played as a kid was Bart vs. the Space Mutants on the NES.  This was actually the first licensed Simpsons video game.

In this game, you are playing as Bart and you’re wandering around Springfield.  You’re just trying to go about your daily business of vandalizing the city when you notice that something is off – aliens have invaded the city!  You are armed with your spray can and x-ray glasses.  Using these, you can identify and deal with those pesky aliens.

Many of the show’s gags make this game, such as Bart’s catch phrases (“eat my shorts!”) and his phone gags to Moe:

bart-1

I don’t remember much else about the game, but I think it was fairly difficult as I never finished it.  I do own this one and will likely pop it in my NES some time.

pikmin-3ds

As I haven’t owned a Nintendo console since the SNES, I’ve missed out on the Pikmin series.  Pikmin has always looked fun to me, so I was really pleased to hear that it’s coming to the 3DS next year.  Since I have no frame of reference, I can’t tell you if it’s going to be good or not compared to previous games, but I can say that I do plan on picking this up so I can finally experience the fun that is Pikmin.

You can see one of the reveal videos below:

Oldies but Goodies – Super Mario Brothers 2

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  NES

Have you ever been playing a game in a series and it just didn’t feel right?  Like maybe it just doesn’t belong in the series?  If you felt that while playing Super Mario Brothers 2, you were right.  Nintendo of Japan had developed a Super Mario Brothers 2, but audiences in Japan found it too difficult.  These levels were later released as the “Lost Levels” and can be found in several places, such as Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES.

Instead of starting from scratch, Nintendo re-purposed a game called Doki Doki Panic and released it as Super Mario Brothers 2.  This is a really odd game and as a result, doesn’t really feel much like a Mario game.  But we all still love it.  Some of the odder parts are the fact that you can pull items out of the ground and throw it at mobs, secret potions that sometimes create doors, weird monsters, Birdo and the slots between levels.

Birdo was especially weird.  That is the name of the monster in the picture above.  Even though it wears a bow on its head, it is a male.  He throws eggs at you from his mouth and you need to land on them mid-air, pull them over your head and throw them back at him.  After you do this a few times, you can enter the big eagle’s mouth on the side of the wall.  Yeah, I told you this got weird.  Here is a picture of the slots between levels, which was also strange:

smb2-slots

However, you could play as more than just Mario or Luigi.  You could also play as Toad or Princess Peach.  They all had their strengths – Peach could hover for a while, Toad was really strong, Mario was good all-around and Luigi…well, Luigi was funny to play?  He always seems to get the shaft in these games.

I still like this game to this day.  I don’t think I ever played it all the way through, though.  I’ll have to do that soon.  This game is available in Nintendo’s Virtual Console store, so it’s easy to go play!

Death Jr for the PSP

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  PSP

Death Jr. is a quirky game on the PSP.  It was an early release on the handheld and reminded me a bit of Psychonauts.  It’s got the same macabre feel and the graphics are unique.  The story is fun as well.

You play as DJ (Death Jr), a kid just trying to make it through school.  One day, something goes very wrong at school and it’s up to you to save your friends.  Each friend has a level that you need to clear in order to save them.  The story was solid enough to keep me wanting more.  It’s also fairly humorous, which I always appreciate.

The game play is fun.  You can either slash with your scythe, which also lets you grab items mid-air and glide to safety.  You can also equip a gun, but ammo is an issue.  You get better guns as you go and upgrades to your scythe.  There are collectible items, although not many.  The monsters are numerous and unique as well.  Much of the environment is destructible.

So why am I not gushing over this game yet?  It has a terrible flaw.  You can’t control the camera.  You can center the camera behind you, but you can’t freely move it.  This really kills the game for me and will likely prevent me from finishing it.  It also makes heavy use of the PSP’s analog nub, which can lead to hand cramps.  I have a comfort grip, which lessens this somewhat, but it’s still not the best design.

You can find this game fairly cheap (~$5) and I would recommend picking it up.  It’s different enough to be fun and the story is solid.  It’s best played in short bursts, however.

Chey’s Top 25 – #5 – Psychonauts

Genre:  Adventure/Platform
Platform:  XBox Original, PC

Psychonauts is the highest console game to make my list.  Everything after this is a PC game.  This game is one of my favorites ever.  Top 5, actually.  It is also the most unique game on this list.  I happened to have found this one day at a GameStop.  I hadn’t heard of it previously, but it looked interesting.  I have since bought the game two more times as I gave away my first two copies to other people because I want everyone to play and enjoy it as much as I have.  I am a Psychonauts evangelist.

You play the game as a character named Rasputin, or Raz.  Raz is just a kid.  A kid with special powers.  His family doesn’t approve of his powers and is in a circus.  Raz runs away to a summer camp for kids with special mental powers hosted by the Psychonauts – a do-gooding organization whose members all have psychic abilities.  At this camp, he makes new friends and quickly shows that he is special indeed.  Then something bad happens and it’s up to you and Raz to return the camp to normal.  Through the game, you learn new powers, which help you defeat many enemies.

The game play is broken into two main areas – the campgrounds itself and the psychic realm.  In the campgrounds, you go from area to area, looking for hidden objects, buying upgrades and progressing the story along.  In the psychic realm, you are helping individuals sort out their mental issues.  This is really where the game shines.  Every psychic level is completely unique.  There is a level where you are basically Godzilla and hated, one where you are essentially in a pinball table, another in a person who thinks he’s Napoleon and so many more!

There are tons of things to collect in this game, which I always enjoy.  The graphics are also unique.  Some people like them, some don’t.  Because they are a bit unusual, I feel the game still stands up today.  What makes this game for me, however, is the writing.  This game is HILARIOUS!  There were a couple of levels where I laughed for a solid 5 minutes.  When you play it, I recommend that you really take your time and listen to the things the other characters have to say.  If you stick around, you’ll hear some really funny stuff.  Read the billboards, too!  The Milkman level is one of my favorites and I have played it over and over because it’s so funny.

This was the first game I had played by developer Double Fine, headed by Tim Schaefer.  I have Psychonauts shirts, pins, a signed poster by Schaefer and Psychonauts figurines.  This game has reached cult status, and I’m definitely there.  I am a big fan of a lot of their other games as well.  They all have that same sense of humor and excellent writing.

psychonauts-figures

My little Psychonauts

I only have one criticism about the game.  The game plays really well, not overly difficult, until the ending.  As many times as I have played this game, I have never finished it.  The ending requires ridiculous precision and is really frustrating.  It’s so disproportionate to the rest of the game.  It’s never made sense to me.

Otherwise, however, if you have not played this, GET IT NOW AND PLAY IT!!!  It’s available for PC on Steam and it’s available in the Microsoft Store for the XBox 360.  I’m not sure if it’s been ported to the XBone yet.

By the way, Psychonauts 2 is in the works.  I will likely disappear for a week or so after it comes out.  I’ll come out a zombie, but a happy zombie.  I’m a bit nervous about it, though, because this is a tough game to follow.

Oldies but Goodies – Ducktales

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  NES

I was a big fan of the Ducktales cartoon as a kid.  In fact, I have the entire series on DVD and it is still a great cartoon today.  I was excited to see that they turned it into a video game back in the NES games.  I played through this one quite a bit as a kid.  You played as scrooge.  Someone came in and stole your money and it was up to you to get it back.  As was the case with the cartoons, you traveled around the world in search of your treasure.

The game featured a neat control room which let you select the levels you wanted to play.  It was a map of the world.  You could visit the Amazon, arctic, Transylania (my favorite level), the moon and more.  You had the assistance of your crew – Launchpad, Gyro, Huey, Dewey and Louie and more!  Each level was fairly large and had its fair of challenges and secret areas.  You were armed with your cane, which doubled as a pogo stick so you could stomp the baddies.

The graphics were pretty good for an 8-bit game and the soundtrack was catchy.  I loved everything about this game.

This game has since been remastered for the XBox and the graphics received a much improved facelift.  The story is pretty close to the original game, with a few additions that add to it.  See the difference in graphics below:

Ducktales remastered

If you liked the original, you’ll like this one as well.  However, I will still likely play the original from time to time just for a bit of nostalgia.  There was also a Ducktales 2, but I don’t think I ever played that one.

 

Oldies but Goodies – Titus the Fox

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  PC

Titus the Fox was a platformer from way back in 1991.  We had it on our Windows 3.1 computer when I was a kid and I think this was my sisters’ favorite.  At least, I hope so, because when I tried to copy it for a friend and rendered the disk useless due to some copyright code, they almost killed me.  Let’s discuss why.

Titus was a cute game and took place somewhere in the middle east where magic carpets are the norm.  You play as the fox and are trying to get to the end of each level in search of your female counterpart.  But she’s always in another castle somewhere else and you need to keep running through a gauntlet of baddies.  If I recall, your primary mode of attack is picking things up and throwing them – including the bad guys.  If you could approach them from behind, you could throw them.  There was usually some sort of stacking puzzle in the level as well.

It was a fairly standard platformer, but the graphics were pretty good for a 1991 computer game running on 3.1.  The soundtrack was cutesy as well.  I can see why my younger sisters liked the game and I would like to formally apologize for destroying it.  I’m glad you’ve grown up without too much mental scarring as a result of my technical ignorance.

Hidden Gems – Alice: The Madness Returns

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  XBox 360

This game probably can’t be considered “hidden” anymore, but I happened to stumble upon it by accident on Gamefly.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I was quite pleasantly surprised as to the quality of this one.

You play as Alice as she returns to Wonderland.  However, this isn’t your mother’s Wonderland.  Things have taken a dystopian turn for the worse.  There’s a lot of blood and gore here, so it’s definitely not for the kiddos.  This game is a platformer, so you’re making your way through the world trying to get to the next point to update the story.  I did find the story engaging as well.  I have to admit that I didn’t end up finishing it, though.  It’s on my Amazon wish list as I would like to get it and finish it out.

The levels are original and fun.  It has many of the typical platforming elements – bouncy things, moving platforms and targets, minions abound, secret things to find, boss battles and so much more.  The graphics are decent, but maybe not as crisp as they could be.  The soundtrack added to the game and gave it a creepy vibe.  Many of your favorite Wonderland characters are here as well, but certainly not as you might remember them.

This game reminded me a bit of American McGee’s Alice, which was a popular PC game in the 2000’s.  It was a bit of a cult hit and was also very dystopian.  I would recommend playing that one, too, although the graphics are very outdated at this point.

Anyway, if you haven’t played this one and it sounds like something you would like, check it out!  You’re probably looking at 20 hours to play through tops.