Hall of Shame: NES 1992-94

The Nintendo Entertainment System hit US shores in 1985. It wasn't just a success, it became its own little matte-gray pop culture icon. From 1985-87 was arguably its glory era; it had no meaningful competition outside its native Japan, well over half the market's share in hand (65% by '87), and Nintendo was such a household name that moms would often just call any game console a Nintendo when referring to it.

1989 saw NEC try to sell its PC-Engine in the States under the name TurboGrafx-16, and that same year Sega followed suit with their Mega Drive. As the 90s went on, these new threats were headed off by Nintendo's own next-gen system, the SNES. The NES just kind of puttered in the background.

The Nintendo Entertainment System died a slow and quiet death... but during that death, they kept developing games for it. It is needless to say that quality control (or even interest in it) flagged a little. By 1992, with the big consoles taking shit to the street, the NES got a moderate to slow trickle of pretty terrible games with a few acceptable ones thrown in. This would continue until August of 1994, when Wario's Woods – the last game released for the NES – hit shelves. In 1995 they finally did the NES a favor and gave it the Old Yeller treatment.

You'll notice that all of these are titles that were released for multiple platforms. That means a version of each game exists that's actually closer to good. Or at least, less shitty.

RoboCop 3

(Ocean/Probe, 1992)

I'm about to say a few things it almost physically hurts me to say.

They should not have done any RoboCop sequels. The second one was watchable but the third has a 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as we speak. They definitely should not have made 3. You know what else they shouldn't have done? Taken a film that made $10m on a $22m budget and tried to make an NES game out of it in 1992.

The title screen has RoboCop cradling a small child on one shoulder; both he and the child are brandishing guns. Where the hell are we going with this? When I saw it, I was speechless. Where does this leave us?

Well, it leaves RoboCop on a Detroit street getting the shit shot out of him by guys in windows because it takes you two very deliberate actions to aim upward. Different parts of his body take damage and can stop working, so it's entirely possible to just lose control of RoboCop in the least rock-n-roll way possible. The controls are about as fluid as smashing a compact car into a sturdy brick wall. Don't try to duck while shooting or aim your gun quickly or really anything a real cop could do, let alone RoboCop. I'd even say the graphics are okay but they're not.

Last Action Hero

(Teeny Weeny/Sony Imagesoft, 1993)

He isn't last action anything. He isn't even action anything. Not in this game, anyway. Maybe in the movie where shit just works. I'm not gonna sit here and say I remember or even saw the movie, but if this is the game we got out of it, maybe that's better off.

My first big complaint about any game where I don't have some kind of gun: Don't make my punch, etc. so short-range that I have to choose between pacifism and getting myself hurt. You can't hit jack shit without getting thumped yourself. You have short, thick little arms no one thought about during development. You also do this odd shuffle when you punch, like you're trying awkwardly to hug someone. Eventually I figured out how INCREDIBLY PRECISE you must be with those fat little hams, but by then I was tired of playing the game.

AND ENOUGH WITH THIS DIGITIZED PHOTOGRAPHY SHIT. The loss of color depth, especially in a dark shot, will make someone in ¾ profile look like a goofy bird person.

Incredible Crash Dummies

(LJN, 1994)

Here's a huge low-res image because people hated this one so much I couldn't even find a decent scan.

Here's a huge low-res image because people hated this one so much I couldn't even find a decent scan.

I don't even know where to start with this one. One thing I simply ADORE is how you keep moving for a second after you release the D-pad. What, the Mario 3 ice world effect, but forever? Awesome! Also, the very first level is full of situations where your little wheel-leg is a liability: inclines, little segmented areas, and things that will hit you if you don't stop on a dime. Which you can't.

I understand the SNES version of this one isn't much better, which doesn't surprise me. The NES one is difficult past the point of fun, that point where you just have to know you're abusing yourself by playing it. Then your eyes meet this symbol of quality the very second you turn it on... and it all makes sense.

Well fuck you, too.

Well fuck you, too.

It's a shame the NES died this way.