Author: Pedz

Retro Monday: Mega Man II

Released in 1988, Mega Man 2 for the Nintendo Entertainment System is widely regarded as the best in the series as well as one of the best games ever made in general. In it, Mega Man returns to save the world by defeating the evil Dr Wily and his 8 Robot Masters by battling through tough-but-fair 2D action-platforming levels.

The core gameplay loop of blasting and jumping your way through each themed stage is a lot of fun, even though they present a solid challenge. Despite the difficulty it doesn’t feel too unfair, dying is generally down to player error however respawning enemies can make it feel more like luck and can ruin precision movement and jumping. As with previous and successive Mega Man games, defeating each Robot Master unlocks their particular weapon for use in other levels. These range from conventional weapons like metal saw blades to bubbles, yes bubbles, which are more effective against certain bosses, however weapons like the Metal Blade are a bit overpowered. Despite the breadth of these weapons they are all effective and don’t feel like they’re included for padding out game time or content.

Each level has a clear and crisp visual style and is themed around its respective Robot Master, giving the game a rich and varied visual palette without having to have a convoluted plot to justify the changes in scenery. For example the Wood Man stage is in a forest and the Heat Man stage is in a furnace/industrial factory. This variety is reflected in the soundtrack too, continuing the series’ reputation for catchy and memorable chiptunes. There is some sprite flicker, however Mega Man 2 doesn’t have the awful framerate drops present in Mega Man 3.

I have a long personal history with Mega Man 2; I played it a lot when I was young and played it through to completion about a year ago and keep an eye on speed run events to see it being done as quickly as possible. It really is action platforming at its best, a template which has seen a resurgence in recent years through games like Super Meat Boy and Shovel Knight, retro de-makes/direct sequels like Mega Man 9 and 10 as well as spiritual successors like Might No.9 with varying levels of quality and appeal.

Retro Monday: Boulder Dash

Boulder Dash has been released on a wide variety of home and portable consoles since the first game in 1984, making its way to mobile devices and recently being re-released for the game’s 30th anniversary. Today I’m going to talk about the 1990 NES version specifically.

In Boulder Dash you play as a miner named Rockford and dig through 2D caves filled with earth and boulders, trying to collect enough diamonds to unlock the exit to each level. The game’s challenge comes from carefully navigating around and manipulating the movement of the titular boulders. They can fall on your head if you dig the ground out from under them, you can get trapped between them or you can block yourself off from the exit, forcing you to restart the level. As well as navigating the caves you encounter enemies who you have no means of attacking directly, instead you have to time and position a boulder so it falls on top of them.

The NES version has a bright and clear visual aesthetic, however the textures for the rocks, earth and boulders have little variety so each level lacks visual distinction to make them memorable. It has an upbeat and catchy soundtrack although I didn’t get far enough to see if that changes much either.

Boulder Dash’s core gameplay of digging away and collecting diamonds is fun on its own, however the added challenge of having to think on your feet and complete each level within a strict time limit gives the game a steep difficulty curve. This gives it some longevity in the same vein as other games of the time. I struggled to get past the third stage in the time I had with it, however the map screen suggested there were plenty more to do beyond that.

Verdict: Recommend

Retro Monday: Might Morphin Power Rangers

This week I was given a game that I have actually played before, and have fond memories of it. This week I was given Might Morphin Power Rangers on the Super Nintendo. Now, this is a game that is really rather simple, it’s your basic beat ’em up.

You start out by picking your Ranger out of 5, and then you are sent into a level when you punch and kick putty enemies to death. These levels are a little different to your normal beat ’em up, in that they are separated into three parts. The first part sees you as your unpowered Power Ranger, where you take on different colour Putty enemies, the second part sees you morph and become fully powered up to take on the putties, which appear to take fewer hits to defeat when powered up, and the third part sees you taking on a boss. The stages have variety also, going from the streets of Angel Grove into warehouses and the sewers which fill with water making you swim. The combat is pretty basic, though, it’s one button to punch and you can do a more powerful attack by pressing up and attack at the same time. You also get a special attack that seems to do a lot of damage to everything on screen at once.

Visually I like the game it’s rather nice and vibrant, they only real complaint is that the Power Rangers themselves all look the same in that when they are powered up the sprite is the same bar a different colour when the should be various helmets and a skirt on the pink ranger. That is a small gripe.

The music in this game is also wonderful, it has a catchy rockish soundtrack to it and is actually pretty damn enjoyable. I would say to any old school Power Rangers fan that this game is worth a shot and it is, even if you aren’t a fan, there’s plenty of fun to be had in just beating on things.

Verdict: Recommend.

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