Fire Emblem Gaiden
(Completed on 30 Aug 2021)

Commentary written before finishing the game

I am writing this note on 27 Aug 2021.

  • The reason I’m writing this now, before the game is even done, is because the battle system is such that when you need to just grind for exp, you can set it on auto-pilot while you do other things. I’m sure this was intended as a convenience thing, because there is a LOT of grinding in this game.
  • People have said this is the “black sheep” of Fire Emblem games, and I don’t think I can really tell that because I haven’t played enough of them. There are things about it that I really like.
  • This is the first, and I hope to God ONLY game, where I did use emulator features, specifically load and save state, to get through it. It does not feel great to do this, but I’m playing an English translation patch (the game was never officially translated) and I started out using these just to try and quickly learn game features (mechanics, etc) that aren’t explained elsewhere. I then learned that I could sometimes do it in battles, to get an edge, but really even those times were rare and I don’t think made or broke the game. I also NEVER ONCE used Rewind or Fastforward to get ahead. I tried to do it with Rewind, but it never worked to change the outcome of a fight. I did NOT ever fast forward through the extremely long battles just to farm for exp.
  • Also, just as a side note, the consequences of a disaster in a FE game are hilariously bad. Like, “lose 20+ hours of time and/or restart the entire game from the beginning” bad.

More commentary added, since finishing the game

  • By the end of this, I was ready to be done. The final level is brutal, the final battle is brutal, there’s just a whole like 5-10 hours at the end of the game which are NOT any fun at all.
  • Everything else about it is great though. I liked the RPG elements, exploring dungeons, etc. Apparently this was the first FE game to do that (other FE games are battles only).
  • Graphics, music, and gameplay are all great. You can tell that this was made later in the life span of the NES; so many of the animations are really polished and nice looking.
  • This game was 🇯🇵 only, and I played a patched 🇺🇸 translation. For some reason, this doesn’t feel quite “right” to me, like I still wasn’t intended to play it any way other than how the creators made it, and because of that, I’ve ‘missed something.’ If nothing else, it surely would have been helpful to have a manual in english.
  • There are also guides in english, which are based around the patch I used and various other english language patches. Pretty much all of these guides are worthless. There isn’t a “grand strategy” or “secret” to getting good at these kinds of games. If you can’t get through a battle, a guide won’t really help you, you just have to grind it out.

The Leged Of Zelda
(Completed on 14 Feb 2021)

  • Used strategy guide, which I’m sure is what everyone did, even at the time. The bones of what you’d think of as “a Zelda game” are all here, but there’s no way anyone could have got through this game without a guide back in the day.
  • It’s cool to see the stuff which has been here from day 1: Boomerang, silver arrows, LIKE LIKES EATING YOUR DAMN SHIELD, Lynels, even the Power Bracelet
  • Not entirely sure how not to grade this game on a curve. It absolutely, definitely has problems, but what should it be compared to? Later Zelda games? Other games on the platform?
  • The most annoying problem is probably the d-pad controls with regard to movement direction, door detection, getting up against a block to push it, etc. I never got used to this, and it isn’t just a problem of this game. The game boy Zeldas feel this way too. Don’t remember whether the SNES one does.

(Completed on 4 Feb 2021)

  • Something about this game is very hard to explain, and I know won’t sound right when I try to type it out and I’m reading this back to myself later. It is definitely a “keep the strategy guide / walkthrough handy” type game, but that isn’t what makes it good or bad — plenty of NES games are like this. The first few hours of the game feel very fun. After that first few hours though, the whole thing starts to get… annoying?
  • Maybe this has more to do with my mood or something but it was around the first General Kielbasa (not looking up his real name) fight that I started thinking nothing about this is any fun at all. The middle part of the game feels like a slog, though it does sort of pick up again toward the end, when you have so much equipment that it feels like you’re an all powerful deity.
  • Like so many other NES games, this one rolls out that trope where toward the end of the game, you have to go through a gauntlet of fighting all the other bosses you’ve fought so far, in succession.
  • Visuals in this game are really good, nice graphics, interesting colors, even cool enemy design. Sounds, however, are very bad. Every music for every location started to get annoying after a while, the “you’re hit” sound is awful and makes you want to snap the controller in half, and mostly there’s no way out of this because you need the volume turned on to hear whether an enemy is completely resisting your attack.
  • Overall I’m glad I did it, but I wouldn’t do it again.

(Completed on 13 Jan 2021)

  • Genuinely a good feeling of accomplishment for winning this one legitimately. Seems like a gamer rite of passage.
  • The things people say about the map are mostly true, but having done it once, doing it again wouldn’t be that hard. Memorizing the areas themselves isn’t that bad because they’re all so distinct. Norfair looks nothing like Brinstar, etc.
  • Soundtrack is just as incredible as everyone says, probably better. I’ve listened to all these songs countless times; hearing the source material rules.
  • The missiles-running-out thing is bad game design. If you end up on the final level with 0 missiles, you have to backtrack for more because metroids can’t be killed any other way.
  • Interesting that the Wave Beam isn’t needed at all. Since you can’t readily switch between Ice and Wave, you have to run around collecting whichever one you want. This makes it easier to just stick with the Ice Beam all game.
  • Kraid & Ridley both feel like “fair” bosses (though they’re kinda easy if you keep up with getting energy tanks) but the final boss, Mother Brain, DOES NOT FEEL fair. The way you can be knocked into the lava in front of her, and the extremely frustrating way you have to get out (which never works) makes it seem like you have to just sit there and watch yourself die. But I guess it forces you to learn quick how to not let that happen.

(Completed on 13 Jan 2021)

  • Honestly not entirely different from some of the text adventures I’ve played on the computer.
  • Every one of these games has some requirement that it would be literally impossible to know without looking it up. In this one, it’s the damn candles. You can pick up several candles while running around this house, and all can be lit using the matches. But, when opening the secret passage in the old church, the only way to make the ghost outside go away, is to be holding a lit candle that you found inside the church. None of the other candles in the game will work. The reason why is never explained.
  • The ruby thing adds a layer of depth, I liked it. Would have never known that the outside is the only place I can trash items though, I had to look that up.
  • Overall fine, but there isn’t any gameplay here, it’s just a read-em-up.

Mega Man
(Completed on 7 Jan 2021)

  • First 8 stages are easy, Wily stages are sadistic.
  • This game is so hard that you never even feel bad using the Select-button trick where you can mash it repeatedly to damage enemies.
  • Beating this genuinely feels extremely rewarding.

Vice: Project Doom
(Completed on 28 Dec 2020)

  • Reviewers always write about this as a ‘cult classic,’ as though it was unpopular due to simply not being as good as e.g. Ninja Gaiden etc. I don’t agree with this, I think it’s really good, and the way it switches between game types is awesome.
  • If you did a game today that tried to completely switch between ‘genres’ like this does (top-down shooter on the driving levels, first-person shooter, sidescroller) it would seem chintzy and bad because today, each individual genre takes so much time and effort to get right. I theorize that the reason a lot of these old games get away with genre-switching is because each individual genre requires many fewer things to be perfect in order to ‘feel right’
  • The individual stages in this game are SO MUCH harder than the bosses. Both stages of final boss requires some technique, but the others are kinda pushovers. Despite this, the game ‘feels long’ & rewarding, because you are forced to play through at least the back half of a stage before getting to the boss room every time the boss beats you.

POW: Prisoner of War
(Completed on 30 Dec 2020)

  • Honestly not very good because there is no difficulty ramp at all. It’s either “absolutely impossible” (default mode, 2 lives) or “trivially easy” (enter a code at the beginning screen, get 20 lives per run)
  • Boring enemies, no variety. Soundtrack, premise & graphics are OK though. Punching out the scuba guys is one of the more fun things you can do on this game. Pretty low-imagination other than that.

(Completed on 23 Dec 2020)

  • Originally didn’t want to play this because I heard so many bad things about NES ports of PC/etc games. None of my fears were founded, this game plays awesome.
  • Reviewers also all say the controls are wonky, but I didn’t think they were that bad.
  • Sorta another ‘must-use-a-walkthrough’ game in that you can really mess up if you don’t buy the right amount of keys for the right area.
  • Next-to-last boss (purple dragon thing flying around) was MUCH HARDER than the real final boss.
  • System of buying new armor & spells is actually really rewarding.
  • Feels Bloodborne-ish in that you have 2 bars to manage (health & magic), a limited amount of healing with each run you do, and possible areas to farm if you get in a jam.

Dragon Warrior III
(Completed on 21 Dec 2020)

  • The only way to play these games is to follow a walkthrough exactly; clearly you were meant to buy a strategy guide with this
  • Because of the class system, there actually seems to be some replay value here. Original had a battery save system so you could continue your game if you shut off your console. Don’t know what happens when you reload that file after beating the game.
  • Beat final boss with the default party, everyone around lv 43-44. All walkthroughs make this sound harder than it is but if you get the Stone of Light so that Zoma is cut from 2000 to 1000HP, it’s not bad.
  • Actually a prequel to all other Dragon Warrior games, but they did that 2nd gen Pokemon thing where after you ‘beat’ the first world, you’re sent to the world from the earlier game, which in this game exists before any of the events of DW1. Having both of these worlds on one cart makes the game feel HUGE.

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