NEStravaganza part 2/3
Welcome back, boils and ghouls! It's time for the second chunk of meat in the three-course massacre I've dubbed the NEStravaganza. I plan to get full-on Sawyer family with this one, so strap on your drool cups and fasten your restraints. I'm plucking both weeds
Welcome back, boils and ghouls! It’s time for the second chunk of meat in the three-course massacre I’ve dubbed the NEStravaganza. I plan to get full-on Sawyer family with this one, so strap on your drool cups and fasten your restraints. I’m plucking both weeds and fruit from the garden of 1985-95, and the only questions are: who will survive, and what will be left of them?
WCW World Champion Wrestling
Nichibutsu/Pony Canyon/FCI, 1989
It’s no lie to say that I was a bit of a kook for pro wrestling as a kid, and even today I sometimes listen to podcasts and “shoot” interviews featuring the sport’s old hands and classic geniuses; sometimes I will cue up a playlist of Jim Cornette’s colorful and profanity-laced rantings just to entertain myself while I’m about my daily tasks. I remember the WCW NES game becoming available – I first knew of it from a DC Comics ad in early 1990 – and I remember being… okay with it.
WCW features a popular spread of the promotion’s wrestlers from the late 80s, including the Road Warriors, Lex Luger, and The Man Himself, Nature Boy Ric Flair. WCW has a pretty cool feature that a lot of its contemporaries didn’t: each wrestler has a unique move set, and you assign four moves to the four directional buttons before each match. This not only lets you mix things up to keep the game from getting too boring, it also allows for a little bit of strategy if you decide that you want to get that in-depth with this shit.
The real drawbacks are that the controls do take some getting used to, heavily overshadowed by the typical Pony Canyon graphical laziness. It’s saved by some really good in-game music and surprisingly clear digitized voices.
I give WCW a 5 out of 10. I’d say check it out if you’re into old school pro wrestling, but be ready to take a few minutes to settle in and just enjoy the nostalgia while you’re at it.
The Three Stooges
Incredible Technologies/Beam Software, 1989
This is another one of those games where they tried desperately to lash a group of mini games into one cohesive product. I hazard to say that Three Stooges isn’t entirely bad, it’s just… well, let me try something new and be polite. I, for one, think this game is kind of shitty. There may be people out there who like it, or even love it. I haven’t met any.
The story is noble enough, a blue collar drama wherein Larry, Moe, and Curly aim to help the orphanage stay afloat despite the efforts of a Snidely Whiplash-style “evil banker.” The trio go into action, making money for the tots in a variety of fittingly absurd ways. Pie throwing and cracker eating contests, moonlighting as doctors and waiters, the Stooges are broad in their vision when it comes to making dough. My favorite so far has to be the hospital job; no HMO will cover the high-speed lunacy of the gurney race. The “contest” themed gigs play a lot like parts of LJN’s Back to the Future, which is not a compliment. It’s more of an accusation.
This is a port of a 1987 computer game so I’ll pull my punches a little bit. The graphics are actually pretty good for what we’re dealing with, and even the usually lousy “realistic” close-ups of familiar characters are very on-point. The sound is absolute dog shit, however. Dinky, repetitive music loops, badly garbled voice samples… I believe the audio was where they cut corners when updating this game from its original format. Compared to, say, Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II, the sound is absolutely piss-poor.
The Three Stooges gets a 5 out of 10 for effort, because while the sound drives me fucking nuts, a couple of these sub-games are actually pretty fun to play and I think the spirit of the source material carries through fairly well.
Super Spike V’Ball
Technos Japan, 1989
I am normally pretty wish-washy on sports games, especially on early consoles like the NES. The RBI series and Blades of Steel are exemplary games for the system, but most of the rest of the NES sports games amount to convoluted crap as far as I’m concerned. I was happy to find another exception to that rule in Super Spike.
My stupid ass didn’t have too much trouble figuring out how to serve and keep the ball in play, and I felt very much like the challenge level was scaled appropriately. I felt like Super Spike was giving me a chance to learn the ropes before violently strangling me with them.
One look at the game in action will remind you of Double Dragon I and II for the NES; decently-defined sprites and appropriately intense sound effects mark this as Technos work through and through. The game plays pretty smoothly and the action gets intense. The music is hit or miss, but when it’s good it’s on par with any of the ballsy tracks from the NES version of Double Dragon II.
Super Spike gets a 7 out of 10. I was pleasantly surprised by it, well-entertained, and found it to be another solid piece of work by Technos Japan.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the finale of this round of reviews on the 28th. Perhaps after this, we will move on to another system we’ve neglected so far. If you have any suggestions, feel free to email me or hit me up on the Facebook page. I’ve got to sweep the cutting room floor now, so goodbye until then, and stay retro!