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Showing posts from April, 2022

Athena: More mediocre than magical

Athena on the NES is a port of the 1986 platforming arcade game of the same name, produced by SNK, a company that later became famous for its cartridge-based arcade system, the Neo Geo. In Athena you play as the titular Goddess of Wisdom (according to the manual), who has been transported into a "Fantasy World" filled with "strange and fearsome creatures." She begins the game unarmed, in her underwear (the arcade intro shows her dress being blown off!), and must resort to kicking enemies for self-defense. Fortunately, pig-men called Momos drop clubs and hammers she can wield. The strength of Athena's current weapon is shown at the top of the screen next to the letter S. With the club and the hammer, Athena can smash blocks found throughout the game, some of which conceal armor, helmets, and shields. These pieces of armor come in three tiers (bronze, silver, and gold) and are imperative to survival. The helmet also lets Athena break blocks with her head, which is

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: 30th anniversary

Hard to believe it's been thirty years since The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past came out on the Super Nintendo, yet here we are! A Link to the Past is in contention for the title of Best Nintendo Game Ever . It perfectly reinvented, reimagined, and revolutionized everything great about the original Legend of Zelda . First off, the story is expanded, with five pages devoted to it in the manual, including background mythology not included in-game about the three gods that made the Triforce. The opening cinematic tells of a war centuries earlier, which resulted in seven wise men sealing the Triforce away in the "Golden World." When the game begins, the boy Link awakens on a dark and stormy night, hearing the voice of Princess Zelda in his head, asking him to rescue her from the dungeon of Hyrule Castle, where she's been imprisoned by the evil wizard Agahnim. Link finds his uncle, wounded, who gives him his sword. Link's first task is to rescue Zelda, then lead h

The Legend of Zelda: The best of the best on the NES

The Legend of Zelda needs no introduction: everyone knows Link and Zelda well. In Nintendo lore, they are overshadowed only by the brothers Mario and Luigi. Both games were developed by the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto. Nintendo knew they had a hit on their hands, as evidenced by their decision to house the game in a gold cartridge instead of the usual grey. What most stands out about The Legend of Zelda is that it is an open-world game. You are immediately thrust into a vast world, seen in overhead perspective, with no directions other than to find the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom. The titular Princess Zelda has scattered and hid these to keep them out of the hands of the evil Prince Ganon. Our young hero Link, clad in green, stands before the dark entrance to a cave, in which he will hear those iconic words: "It's dangerous to go alone! Take this." Without further ado, he receives his trusty sword. When Link is at full health, his sword fires a projectile that d

Doom 64: 25th anniversary

Doom 64 turns 25 years old today! It's an N64-exclusive sequel to the popular first-person shooter Doom 2. And it's easy to play today because it was re-released in 2020 across all platforms and costs only $5 to download! The concept of Doom 64 is the same as in the original Doom: you are "Doomguy," a marine who has found himself in hell and must slay many demons to escape. Each stage (of which there are 28) is basically a maze containing a red door, yellow door, and blue door. You must find the corresponding key to open each door. To find the keys you must activate switches that open new paths. Opening doors and hitting switches usually reveals gun-toting zombies or fireball-tossing imps and demons. Even the best player is likely to take a few potshots from ambushes. Health, armor, and ammo drops help keep you alive. Quite a few secret areas may be found by pressing on random walls. For completionists, at the end of each level you are shown what percentage of the sec