Newest - Highway to Hell - DREEEEEEW!
Games I Wish I Had Never Played - Part 2
Last time, we discovered that Deadly Towers is just that--deadly to
your love of video games. Today, I bring you a lesser disappointment but
nonetheless a game I wish I had never played.
Now, a lot of movies were made into NES games. Some, like Feivel Goes West,
were destined to suck. But some movies are so filled with action and
studliness that it is almost impossible not to make a marginally successful
shoot-em-up game. And what movie is more filled with sweet action, awesome
weapons, crazy explosions, Russians, patriotism, and Vietnam than Rambo II?
There is no such movie, and so Rambo II should be the easiest movie in the
world to make into at least a marginal game.
It would take 100 Nintendos taped together to render this
But there were some guys in the industry who managed to dream the impossible
dream and fail at this fool-proof formula. Aside from the fact that the game
is clearly based on Rambo II yet titled only 'Rambo' (probably they did
this so that kids would not think they had missed the first Rambo game, which
does not exist because you really could not sell a mainstream game back then
where the small-town Americans are the bad guys and you blow up their dinky
little Mainstreet in your post-traumatic-stress syndrome rampage--whereas
nowadays some of the most popular games involve running over cops with stolen
cars on your way to pimp some hoes... but I digress) the game follows
pretty well, and so has a chance at goodness. The graphics are not top notch
yet they are crisp. And Rambo racks up weapons points which he can use on
cheap weapons, like knives and throwing knives and bigger knives, or on
expensive weapons like explosive arrows, grenades, and bazookas. And
actually Vietnamese guards running around trying to karate kick or
Sounds pretty good so far, right?
Wrong. All that cool stuff is few and far between. In fact, your
is navigating the superbly confusing side-scrolling airfield in Thailand
it possible to design a side-scrolling game where you can get lost?). It's
almost as hard as rescuing Dr. Jones Senior from Castle Brunwald in The Last
Crusade, except in that game you get to fight Nazis the whole way and discover
secret doors and switches. In this game, you are just trying to find your
way to the weapons locker. Once you make it to the heart of this side-scrolling,
parallel-area labyrinth you get to talk to the weapons officer for some gear.
During the cut scene, the close up reveals that the game designers opted not
for one of those grainy yet cool screen shots of Stallone but rather a
cartoonish and bland rendition of the man which looks straight out of MAD
Magazine, complete with cross-eyes and a fat lip.
Look out for that... pudgy... dude. Who might be a bad guy.
Alright, so now you have weapons and you watch a better cut scene in which you
parachute into the jungle. Clearly, your mission is to destroy everything in
your path and save the day. However, the only thing in your path are snakes,
spiders, tree snakes, pirhanas, flying bugs, maybe some birds, grass, easily
hurdled logs, water that doesn't drown you, flamingos?, eels maybe, and so
forth. And if you thought finding your way through the hangar was tough, wait
til you try and navigate this jungle. It's like several chunks of 'forest'
screen from Zelda II attached parallel and end-to-end but without big Moblins,
just bugs and snakes.
Eventually, you find your way to your hot Vietnamese contact who has
into a white chick in this stellar game and she gets you across a river. You
are now in more jungle that is the same as before except there are now tigers.
Or bengals or whatever they had in 'Nam--they're commie cats in any case. And
did I mention that the music stinks? How can you take a movie filled with
dramatic music about shooting commies and not end up with at least a tiny bit
of inspiration? Anyhow, after this long and arduous struggle against Mother
Nature you finally run into some human enemies. But once it becomes
their log fortress is only gaurding more confusion in the side-scrolling maze
department, you will have lost any desire to play this game.
Here are some tips for how this game should have been made:
See how easy it is to come up with these ideas? Whereas
Deadly Towers suffered from childish design, that is exactly what Rambo needs.
Well, in any case, I'll keep plugging away at these terrible games so
you don't have to. Perhaps the only saving grace of these two games I have reviewed is
that their code systems allow you to save significant amounts of progress at
almost any time, thus making it possible for me to suffer through them in
Overhead shooter, like Jackal or Ikari Warriors. Would have been literally
impossible to mess up and weapons would have been more 'strategic.'
If you insist on side-scrolling, forget the 'realism' of a large and
difficult-to-navigate jungle area; just fill it with spike pits, Ninjas,
bamboo-wielding Vietcong and also undergound tunnel bases left over from the
All side-scrolling games should be linear, i.e., flow from left to right to
keep the pace up. Few games successfully incorporate "exploration" into
sidescrollers, and even then I think Rich would agree this is just holding the
game back (Castlevania II). So there should be a jungle level, a tunnel base
level, then a log fortress level, then a boss, then some harder jungle, then
the Russian base, and so on. It's totally easy to design side-scrolling
I would trade all my weapons in the jungle area for one barrel of Agent
Orange to burn it all down.
I have read that the final boss is the Russian general flying his
helicopter and that the fight is best won with a mess of grenades.
While this sounds cool, it probably is not as cool as fighting The
Albatross at the end of Bionic Commando and shooting a bazooka
through Hitler's windshield. I say, steal a page out of their playbook
and make the helicopter a ridiculously armed gunship with multiple damage
zones and Russian Commandos/Vietcong Ninjas leaping out the sides to attack.