Kirby’s Block Ball is a spin-off game from the Kirby platforming series. it was made for the Nintendo Game Boy in 1995, it came out later in Europe in 1996 and it is was made by Hal Laboratory.
The game is an action game with a pretty simple premise, you move along a small paddle and hit blocks with a ball. Think Breakout. It’s more complex than Breakout though, it has paddles on the top and bottom for a start and your ball can change into a full-size Kirby with timing a button press precisely and it’s an ability that lets you break blocks that you normally wouldn’t be able to break. Later stages and boss stages include paddles on the sides of the stages too. It’s also more varied in the stages too, unlike Breakout where it’s basically hit a ball at blocks until you lose all you balls, this game adds enemies, bonus levels, obstacles and more, there’s also power-ups, that help you break more blocks and do a variety of things. I only got to try the Spark powerup, which breaks certain blocks and also continues through several blocks at a time, whereas normally you’d break one block and the ball will bounce back.
The game is fun to play, basic, simple, but jolly. I think it works really well, it has a really good ‘one more go’ feel to it, it’s also a perfect game for quick pick up and play. It’s interesting, taking something that’s been done before, but adding a lot of unique and interesting concepts to it. Visually the game is alright too, the sprites are all good, but obviously being a GameBoy game where you hit blocks, it’s a little bare, there’s not much to excite the eyes. Then there’s the music, it’s great, but there’s so little variety, it’s unfortunate that they used the same track for every stage as changing it up would have been much better.
Super Castlevania IV is the fourth entry in the mainline Castlevania series, though it’s a pseudo-remake of the original Castlevania. It was released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991 in Japan and the US, but around a full year later in Europe. Super Castlevania IV was made and published by Konami.
SCIV is an action platformer, and follows in the style of previous Castlevania games, though more like 1 than 2 and 3, as 3 has branching paths and 2 is more metroid-esque. The game sees you in the role of Simon Belmont, the protagonist from Castlevania’s 1 and 2 trying to take down the dark lord Dracula in his castle. The thing with the older Castlevania games, unlike the newer more Metroid style games, is you aren’t in the castle for the whole game, you go from level to level making your way to it, which adds a lot more variety to it in its locations that aren’t really in the later games. The best addition to the game though is the 8-way directional whip, it makes it much better being able to aim your whip in these directions instead of trying to jump and get the perfect hit on an enemy. It’s simply easier, more user-friendly, and also makes for a more fun experience. The actual gameplay itself is generally fun, though it can be tough especially when having to start so far back in the level when you lose all your lives it is somewhat of a massive frustration, the knockback you get when getting hit by enemies is also a right pain, but when you do finish a level and then beat the boss, you feel like you’ve really earned the win.
Visually the game looks great, I like the sprite works and the enemies look really rather interesting, some are a bit generic, but they all fit into the game well and suits its feel and theme. The music is also great and sets the atmosphere for each level well, there’s also variety in the music. I also like that while there is original music in the game, so great tracks, like Vampire Killer and Bloody Tears make an appearance in the game.
Overall I’d say this is one of the best traditional CCastlevaniagames, I find it hard to decide between this and Rondo of Blood, but this does have the benefit of the 8-way whip. Either way, you must play this game if you’re a fan of games, that’s right games in general. It holds up well to this day and should at least be played by anyone with a passing interest in retro games.
Verdict: Highly Recommended.
Bucky O’Hare was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in its twilight years, it came out in 1992 in Japan and the US while it came later in Europe in 1993. It was made by Konami.
Bucky O’Hare is an action Platformer that sees you visiting different planets (which are all conveniently named after the colour they are) to rescue his crew members who have been kidnapped by the evil Toads. The unique thing about this game was the fact that after finishing a level and getting each crew member they would become usable and on each level, on the fly you can press select and you would change to another character. Of course changing character wasn’t just something as a skin option there are actual benefits and also gameplay changes due to it. An example would be as Bucky you have a basic gun, that fires normally and the ability to jump really high, as Dead-Eye Duck you get a short ranged triple spread gun and the ability to cling and climb walls for short periods of time, and there are 3 more characters in which you choose too.
Visually the game is great, but it’s not unexpected when you have Konami making a game especially so late in the consoles life, but the sprites are amazing the planets are all varied, and the variety is from act to act too. Then you have the music which is great, with some truly terrific tunes that seem to set a mood.
I’ll admit, the game is hard though, and by hard I mean very hard, but unlike games like Mega Man where you get 3 lives and then you can continue from the beginning of the level again when you lose them all, the planets are split into acts and each time you lose you 3 lives you start from that act, which is much better than having to start all over again, so while balls to the wall hard, you get a fair challenge due to the lenient continue structure, also continues are unlimited, unlike most games where you get 3. I have to admit, I was pretty unfamiliar of the game before playing it Monday, I knew of it, and I had had a little go of it last year, but only for about 5 minutes, and now playing it properly I’d say it’s one of the best Action Platformers on NES, easily.
Verdict: Highly Recommended.