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Fischer’s Friday Five

Unfortunately I have a previous scheduled conflict (March Madness), so I’ve invited a guest blogger this week. You know him better as….uh….well, you probably don’t know him. His name is Adam Kramer, he’s a co-worker of mine, and an avid fan of the blog and all things Don Johnson related. Take it away Kramer….

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The late 80s and early part of the 90s were a wonderful time in my life. The Mets won the World Series thanks to Bill Buckner. Voltron and Transformers were on TV just about every morning. The world hadn’t ostracized the fast food industry yet for being god-awful for you, therefore my parents had no qualms about shutting me up by stuffing McDonalds down my throat. But most importantly, it was the golden age of the Nintendo Entertainment System.

I remember it vividly in December of 1987. My uncle was down from Jersey for my brother’s Bar Mitzvah in South Florida. He had told me that he had brought a Hanukkah gift for my brother and I, but we had to wait until that night to get it. Now, my brother and I had annoyed our parents with the type of agonizing pain I imagine an Agnostic person would get sitting in the same room with Tim Tebow for an hour to buy us the Sega Entertainment System. NOT Sega Genesis, but the SES. For whatever reason we thought it had better graphics and games than the Nintendo. Thankfully my uncle had the balls of steel to basically tell my parents, “Don’t get them that piece of {expletive deleted}.”

While Nintendo flourished like the Cherry Blossoms of DC, the SES became a worse one-hit wonder than whatever band that sang “Come on Ilene”. (EDITOR’S NOTE: How can you forget Dexy’s Midnight Runner? Come on Kramer!) In any event, all of this leads to my Kramerica’s Five Favorites aka The Fischer Friday Five that Jarrett was too lazy to do. (EDITOR’S NOTE AGAIN: He’s right, I chose basketball over blogging, plus I was really tired from that K. State/Xavier game).

I’m Not Fischer, but it’s Friday, and here’s my five…

TOP FIVE NINTENDO GAMES

Honorable Mention:
MEGA MAN 2
I remember playing the original Mega Man (which was impossible) and thinking it was a cool concept. Kill a bad guy with your Hand Mounted Laser Gun and steal his power and soul. Much like Highlander. Somehow in the year and a half between Mega Man 1 and 2, Nintendo greatly improved their graphics and sound. Everything about MM2 was much more slick, better sounding and just more fun to play. And it was always fun to figure out which boss’ weapon worked best against the other bosses. (Spoiler: Air Man’s Tornados were WICKED good against Crash man). This was the game that set the standard for the rest of the franchise.

TMNT – THE ARCADE GAME
First of all, I would have loved to have been at the production meetings when just the concept of TMNT was first created. I picture a bunch of execs (I think in Japan) sitting around thinking of what is the next great new children’s toy/cartoon/comic. One guy chimes in with, “Well, turtles test out well with boys 4-12.” Then another says, “Great idea, but they can’t just be turtles… they need to be…. human-sized mutants.” Then, lastly, someone who had just earned his black belt the night before blasted in with, “Yes, but what if they were NINJAS?!?” Hmmmmm… Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I won’t get into how they named them all the different renaissance artists, but what did happen was multimillion dollar franchise that eventually also put Vanilla Ice’s already bad career six feet under for good.

This game was Nintendo’s first TRUE effort at adapting a successful arcade game onto console. (Don’t give me that Double Dragon non-sense, the arcade and NES version were totally different). The graphics were completely subpar to the arcade, the movement of characters felt sluggish like a wet sponge, and the music/sound were borderline earmuffs worthy, BUT it was damn fun to play. For the first time we could play the arcade game without popping quarters into a machine. Children around the world rejoiced. Parents around the world forked over $50 to Electronics Boutique, Toys R US and Kaybee Toys.

CONTRA
Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right Select Start (EDITOR’S NOTE: Even worse than not remember Dexy’s Midnight Runner is not knowing the correct Contra code – you left off B A before the Select Start). I dare you to find a red-blooded American male age 27-35 that played games as a kid and doesn’t know “The Konami Code”. Don’t bother. It won’t happen. You are more likely to find Pam Anderson wearing fur or Sean Penn flipping off a Haitian Earthquake victim. This game started it all with that code. Enter it, get 30 lives. Kill Aliens. Save the world. Get the always and forever crappy NES game ending. The game actually also was very fun to play, had cool weapons (S, L, and F), and was a party favorite.

FINAL FANTASY
The game that actually got me to enjoy Role-Playing Video Games. The RPVGs today are insanely in-depth, have graphics that rival Pixar, and can take a weaker minded person’s life away basically if its one of those massive world online games. (e.g. World of Warcraft). The original FF though was simple, but complex. Long by the standards of games then, but not TOO long. Not great graphics, but good enough to make the monsters and characters believable. Basically you chose 4 characters for your “party” that you use the entire game (btw, you ALWAYS took a warrior, ninja, black mage and white mage) and then went off on a quest for “G” (gold), “EXP” (experience), and other weapons and items that gave you back “Hit Points” (Health). With more EXP your characters became stronger. The stronger you got, the more quests you could go on. The more quests into the game you got, the closer you came to saving the world from the bad guy CHAOS. There is a whole storyline of you destroying enemies that represented the four elements of science (Earth, Fire, Water, Air) ala Angels and Demons, but that might bore you a tad. Overall the game intriguing, kept the player entertained, and was the gateway drug to other RPVGs over time. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Dork.)

NOW…. The countdown.

TECMO BOWL

This is the game that Ten Yard Fight, NES Playaction Football, and John Elway Football wanted to be and just failed miserably to even compare to. I have a feeling a lot of people here will argue that Tecmo SUPER Bowl was by far the superior game here, and honestly, they are probably right. However, I have to go with the game that started it all. To my knowledge (meaning sloppy memory), Tecmo Bowl in 1989 was the first Nintendo game to have any affiliation at all with the NFL and its Players’ Association. Thus, being able to use the real names of players and teams. It only had twelve teams to choose from, but they were the ACTUAL teams. The game had its glitches, but that’s what made it so damn fun!!! I could take Dan Marino, drop back to the back of the endzone, and then fling a pass 120 yards IN THE AIR to the waiting hands of either Mark Duper or Mark Clayton. If I felt like making the computer look stupid, I could take the controls of Bo Jackson and literally take the ball on a running play and run around making defenders miss for an ENTIRE QUARTER.

Maybe I wanted to play stout defense, so I would choose Lawrence Taylor and either sack the QB or intercept every pass thrown. That’s just the way the game played. It made playing against friends, siblings, or whoever not only fun, but a challenge. If two players had above average skill, you could very well win a game 7-0 because someone may have screwed up one play during the game. Many games that came after were better, and but like the Beatles, TB was the originator. Remember that when playing Madden.

MIKE TYSON’S PUNCH OUT

I’m not even completely sure why everyone loved this game so much, we just did. Was it the Patriotism in knocking out Soda Popinski? Maybe channeling our inner bully on Don Flaminco? (There was a way to beat him where he never even came close to touching you) Or just the dream that we could one day actually fight and beat the great Mike Tyson? (007-373-5963, have fun). This game didn’t have the best graphics, had two or three different songs at most during game play, and even a bit of reverse racism in which your trainer, a large black man, chased you, a small white guy, along the Hudson River while you ran from him in a pink sweat suit. But some odd reason, when it came out, this game was off the shelves as soon as they hit them. Everyone wanted it. The game was hard as hell too. With enough practice you could easily get through 3/4ths of the game, but the last 3 or so fighters (Mr. Sandman, Super Macho Man, and Tyson) were tough even for the most skilled of players. I still to this day have never seen anyone actually beat Tyson in-person. After Tyson lost to Buster Douglas and soon there after spiraled down the sink of divorce and prison, Nintendo quickly took his name off the game. It was just called Punchout and replaced Tyson with Mr. Dream. All they did was make Tyson’s skin color white, his hair brown and gave him a full set of teeth. It just was never the same as Iron Mike…

METROID

I remember this game blowing my mind on so many levels as a pre-teen. First of all for a game that came out in 1987-1988 and was probably only 512k total at most, it was HUGE. It completely and utterly revolutionized the concept of an “Open Space” game. A game that wasn’t linear and you could really take whatever path you choose. This was a complete change from say Super Mario Brothers where you had the same boards and linear story every time. The music was great for its time, the game play was smooth, and amazingly enough for a large game it didn’t have many glitches. Also, and possibly most ground-breaking for video games, the main protagonist was a female. Samus Aran. You had absolutely no clue about this until you beat the game though as throughout playing your character wears a helmet. Of course Nintendo pushed the envelope even further where if you beat the game using the special “Justin Bailey” code, not only did she take off her helmet, but everything except a top and bottom covering her X-rated parts. But back to the game… much like Mega Man you had a cannon mounted on your arm (but she was in a suit here) and that was your primary weapon which you could also upgrade to shoot ice and some other wavey thing that killed enemies fairly quickly. You also were able to collect “missile upgrades” which, duh, allowed you to shoot missiles. Metroid is also where the video game concept of “mini-bosses” came from. I can’t tell you how many games from there on took on this concept. In fact a band even named themselves, “The Mini Bosses”. Metroid sold over 1 million copies which for back then was enormous and is constantly listed in the top console games ever…. Can’t say I disagree.

SUPER MARIO BROTHERS 3

The Mario Brothers franchise may also be the most popular in the world and is still pumping out titles today. This game was one of the most, IF NOT the most anticipated game ever on the NES before the Super Nintendo really started to steal its thunder. One of the reasons for this was also because it was released in Japan in 1988, but not in the US until 1990. So for almost two years we had to hear about how good this game was. But Nintendo just didn’t release this game in a typical fashion. It debuted it in a freaking movie of all things. I know many of you remember The Wizard with Fred Savage. Fred travels around the country with what was probably an autistic little brother and some girl who most 10 year olds probably had a crush on, but no idea what her name was. They travel to bring Fred’s little brother to some fictional video game Olympics at Universal in California where in the finals they play…. Super Mario Brothers 3. And admit it, the movie was also how we all knew where to find the first warp whistle in the game.This game has sold over 7 million copies in US and 4 million in Japan. It had a cartoon, The Adventures of Super Mario Brothers 3, made for it. Mario’s ability to fly has been a feature in such games as Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, and so on. This game basically just changed almost everything about the franchise. There’s a reason that people always come back to this game rather than the original or Super Mario Brothers 2 (which kind of sucked actually). Unlike the other Mario Brothers games, this one couldn’t be beat in 10 minutes like the first two….well, unless you are this guy.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA

ALL HAIL LINK OF HYRULE!!! On August 22, 1987, the video game world changed forever. Everything about this game was different from the beginning. From the game cartridge being painted gold to the commercials that advertised its release. One of the first commercials or market introductions for Zelda, had wiry-haired, nerdy guy walking through the dark making goofy noises, yelling out the names of some enemies from the game, and screaming for Zelda. This created even more interest and The Legend of Zelda had video gamers by their junk.

You put the game in and assuming your screen didn’t start flashing yellow and you had to blow into the system, the title screen came up with a theme song that most could still pick out today. You hit start, entered your name, a little 8-bit elf in a green tunic named Link popped up on the screen and the rest is history. Link had to fight his way through 8 “dungeons” and collect the pieces of “Tri-Force” which were the keepers of the power of the land of Hyrule. Only when you collected all 8 could you then enter “Death Mountain” to try and defeat Gannon. The pig-faced bastard who was holding Princess Zelda hostage. Apparently Zelda was the only one who could put all the piece of Triforce back together so she was pretty important. All the while you are upgrading your swords, finding different items to help you out (bombs, keys, a raft, etc) and collecting the almighty “Heart Containers” which magically allowed link to take more punishment. While no where NEAR as big a world as Metroid, Zelda’s simplicity of moving from screen to screen, killing everything on that screen and moving on, may have been what people loved about it so much. In 1988, Zelda became only Nintendo’s second title to sell over 1 million copies and to this date sold over 6.5 million. The game placed first in the player’s poll “Top 30” in Nintendo Power’s first issue and still would place well today even if you asked most people what their favorite games are/were.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks Adam!)

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4 Responses

  1. Ok, so I forgot B-A on Contra, sue me, it was a long ass blog.

    Also, liking one RPG does not make me a dork. Being a Terps fan on the other hand 🙂

  2. It’s a b select start, you smacked asses. And that code worked on other konami games like Ikari Warriors and such too. But awesome list, I couldn’t help but smile the whole time. What about dragon warrior or castlevania or kid icarus too. I could go on and on…

  3. That was the thing about this list, EVERYONE was/is going to have some disagreement. Dragon Warrior, Castlevania, and Kid Icurus were all solid games. KI might have been one if the hardest game ever known to man. I just didn’t see them as groundbreaking. I did love me some Simon Belmont whipping though. Castlevania 2 actually almost made the honorable mention list.

  4. How could you forget about the power glove when talking about Mike Tyson’s punch out?!?!?!? That kind of technology back then was incredible and made the game that much more fun to play. All hail the power glove!!!

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