(Completed on 21 Nov 2021)

  • The date stamp on this entry isn’t a mistake. I played it from start to finish on the same day I finished Castlevania. Castlevania took several sessions over several days, but Strider was complete in a day.
  • I was surprised that this came out in 89, because the graphics are really, really good. Even at that time, Capcom probably had the money to spend on such things; I just thought it looked beyond what the console was capable of.
  • Like Kirby though, the good graphics come at a price. This game is really choppy, long loading times, etc. There are places inside the middle of levels, in the heat of the action, where the game just freezes completely while it loads something onto the screen.
  • The combat of this game feels good and smooth, but the platforming is a real mess. There’s no sense at all of when you will or won’t land on something, you’re constantly “clipping” uphill or sideways, there are these giant slopes up and down where you never really feel in control, it honestly just looks like bad programming all around (but, this also could be a consequence of choosing to sacrifice absolutely everything for “good graphics”).
  • Nothing about the music stood out, except maybe the Africa level. I remember thinking “this is different.”
  • I didn’t really do any research into this game before playing it, pretty sure I just saw it featured on GCCX or something. That said, it “feels” to me like one of those arcade ports. There are certain sections of certain levels (such as the last train car on the Egypt level) where it is literally impossible not to take damage. There can’t be any reason for this, other than the house advantage you’d need if you were designed to eat quarters.
  • Using a walkthrough, the first 95% of this game is really easy. The final level, though, is long and excruciating and the last boss gauntlet is very brutal. I wouldn’t put it quite at Megaman-level but still pretty bad. Due to the reasons explained in the above bullet, you can’t just git gud and take no damage. There are also very few Health and Energy powerups in the level, and every time you die once (there is no “check point” system) you have to do the entire level over again. Each individual attempt at the final boss takes ~20-25 mins.

(Completed on 21 Nov 2021)

  • After The Sword of Hope, I wrote that I needed a victory because I had used emulator features on both that and Fire Emblem Gaiden. Thankfully, this was that victory. It was brutal as all hell, but I did not use any emulator features.
  • The “Continue” system here is actually fairly forgiving compared to a lot of other NES games. Castlevania also falls into the category of “it doesn’t matter at all how many guides you use, you still have to input the commands.”
  • Having the right items is always the key to success. If you git gud at the actual levels leading up to the boss, to the point that you can walk into the boss fight with whatever item you want, you will have a MUCH EASIER time.
  • This goes for pretty much every boss other than The Count. Obviously there was no way around this; it’s the final boss, of course it’s gonna be brutal.
  • This feels like a sentence I write about everything but I’m writing it again because it’s true: The music absolutely is all it’s cracked up to be. It really is incredible, and it’s one of the things that keeps the levels from feeling monotonous while you’re grinding them thousands of times trying to learn how the hell to get through.

Sword of Hope
(Completed on 31 Aug 2021)

  • It’s amazing how fast I got sick of this one. First things first, Fire Emblem Gaiden was the first one of these I used any emulator features on, and I’ve done it again on this one. Need a victory after this, because winning that way feels really bad.
  • The first 80% of the game is great, and a lot of fun. I even drew out the maps by hand. This style is exactly what I was expecting when I played Uninvited (which is not a very good game)
  • The last 20% of the game is downright awful. Terrible balancing, like it’s begging you to go grind, but with no real place to do it. It feels like a complete chore, like you’re being disrespected somehow. I got so tired of it that I didn’t even draw a map of the final area. Even if I had wanted to, I don’t know how I’d have done it; way too many ‘teleport’ points that drop you into the middle of nowhere.
  • The only good thing about some of the final levels is that the music is great.
  • This is also the first GB game on the list, and I played it with a NES controller. I want to do other GB games, but it might be best to wait until the Analogue Pocket I preordered comes in

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.

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