Tag Archives: nintendo entertainment system

FGC #301 Adventure Island 3

Yay islands!Adventure Island 3 is a metaphor for the human condition.

The story of Adventure Island 3 is no epic tale. Master Higgins, a dude in a baseball cap and grass skirt, is chilling on a deserted island the size of a Dixie cup with his beloved Tina when a nefarious alien abducts the hapless maiden. Higgins boards the nearest plesiosaur, and paddles off to save the day. There is no trick or plot twist in this saga, all Higgins has to do to rescue Tina is venture across eight (adventure) islands, battle the occasional Mothra, and then conquer the aliens in an epic battle that involves fireballs and stone hammers. The aliens are not Dr. Wily in disguise, and no explanation is given for their preoccupation with poor Tina; they’re just monsters to be chased, and an excuse for Higgins to ride a dinosaur or six. Oh, and the adventure wraps up with Higgins and Tina back on their original weensy island (compliments of a pterodactyl), so it’s a zero-sum story from top to bottom.

But this is an ‘intenda game, so the story is perfunctory from the very start. What’s important is that good ol’ gameplay, and… Well, there’s not much to see here, either. This is a “NES platformer” at its most basic. Well, no, that would Adventure Island 1, wherein Master Higgins runs left to right and must at all time satiate his crippling fruit addiction. We’ve come a long way from those bygone days: now Master Higgins does the exact same thing, but sometimes he’s on a surfboard! Or a dinosaur! And, despite the fact that almost all stages only advance right and strictly forbid any backtracking, there are rare vertical levels that prove that Hudson does understand scrolling (and they don’t even involve Kid Icarus-esque scroll deaths). And the bosses are pretty neat, even if they’re about as fair as a thumb wrestling match against Eternia’s Fisto. Master Higgins can, at absolute best, suffer three hits (a bonus “heart” powerup plus a dinosaur buddy), and it’s very likely those damn boss monsters are going to barbecue the poor islander before he tosses the proper number of boomerangs. Boss patterns should not change mid-fight with a hero that has approximately zero HP!

This sucks!But all that cruft is neither here nor there. No, what’s important is what Adventure Island 3 represents. What’s important is that Adventure Island 3 is a failure.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: a damsel is distressed when she is kidnapped by a giant, ambiguously evil monster. Her man springs into action to rescue her, and must battle across eight distinct lands to save the day. Along the way, he runs, jumps, and even recruits a dinosaur to beat back the nefarious forces of angry clouds and a strangely high number of murderous reptiles. After losing a bunch of lives due to the tiniest contact with random monsters (and the occasional bottomless pit), the brave knight saves his princess. And maybe there was a bonus stage or warpzone somewhere along the way, too.

Yes, obviously, Adventure Island 3 follows the exact same plot and general gameplay as Super Mario Bros. In fact, Adventure Island 2, the first game to feature Master Higgins riding a dinosaur, was released a few months after Super Mario World, the first game to feature Mario riding a Yoshi (and Adventure Island 3 improved on AI2 by… adding one more dinosaur). On a purely superficial level, Massy Hig’s Adventure Islands are incredibly similar to Mario’s treks across the Mushroom Kingdom and Dinosaur Land. Give or take the ability to actually dismount your incredible thunder lizard, you could probably provide the exact same instruction manual for both games. Master Higgins is a cape feather away from being an accomplished plumber.

Spooky!But that’s where the tragedy occurs. On a shallow level, Master and Mario are the same. They run, they jump, and they collect one hundred doodads to earn an extra life. But actually play the games, and the differences become apparent. Mario has a precise kind of momentum, while Master Higgins has a tendency to slip around like a greased up potato man. It’s telling that Master Higgins has to be wary of inanimate rocks, while Mario at least has the decency to vault moving rocks. And that slipperiness pairs poorly with a number of “platforming challenges”. Want to leap across a series of mobile clouds? That’s kind of fun in the Mushroom Kingdom, but over in the Adventure Islands, Master Higgins is pretty likely to fall to his doom after about the second jump. Once you hit an ice stage, things are more slippery, but, honestly? It’s not the same kind of dramatic shift you’d see in Super Mario. Bros 3. Oh, there is supposed to be a dinosaur that cuts down on Slippin’ Higgy? Yeah, that dinosaur is a lie. In fact, all of the dinomounts are lies, as they amount to little more than the difference between Mario and Super Mario. The only dinosaur that isn’t a “fireball” or “slight movement” powerup is the new, green triceratops, and that’s because he offers the ability to roll into a spiky ball for exactly a second before immediately losing that powerup to terrible hit detection. Beyond that, I’m not even certain what the plesiosaur is supposed to do, as he’s just as useless as the frog suit on land, but only marginally better than regular swimming Higgins on the high seas. He doesn’t even get a lightning tail or something! You have to bring your own hammer!

And, when you get right down to it, describing this game, describing Adventure Island 3, is recounting exactly what being a human is. All the proper components are there! You’ve got running! You’ve got jumping! You’ve got a princess and a monster and eight worlds! This is exactly what Mario’s got! This is exactly what that successful guy has got… so why isn’t it working here? I can see Mario’s Facebook, I know we’re on the same level, so why is he so much better than me!? I could be happy! I should be happy! Why can’t Master Higgins be half as successful as a damned plumber!?

Dammit!That’s Adventure Island 3. All the pieces are there, everything that should work is there, but… it doesn’t. Master Higgins is doomed to wallow on his teeny tiny island, while Mario just found out his ex built an entire city for his benefit. Adventure Island 3 is every one of us looking at that green grass on the next lawn over, and wondering what went wrong. And is this where I’m supposed to say something optimistic? Well, I’d love to say it gets better, but have you seen Adventure Island: The Beginning? Yeesh.

I just played Adventure Island 3… don’t expect any hopefulness out of this human for a week.

FGC #301 Adventure Island 3

  • System: Nintendo Entertainment System. There’s also a Gameboy port that is surprisingly faithful.
  • Number of players: One Master Higgins. Maybe the secret to success is having a Luigi?
  • Port-o-Call: The Gameboy version actually allows you to replay completed stages. I have no earthly idea why anyone would want to do such a thing, but at least it’s an option.
  • Favorite Dinosaur: I guess the blue dinosaur with the powered tail. He’s pretty much exactly the same as the red dinosaur with the fireball that is completely resistant to lava, but… he’s blue? He’s the underdog in a game starring an underdog.
  • Favorite Boss: Despite the inexplicable presence of Mothra, I’m going to pick the Salamander. He’s just like every other boss in this game (float and/or teleport around and lob fireballs), but he is at least on fire. And when he goes blue-flames, it at least looks cool.
  • Blind SallyIncidentally: This was supposed to be FGC #300, but I couldn’t find the rom while on the stream. Turns out it was there in the list, just under “Hudson’s Adventure Island 3” as opposed to in the I section where I expected to find such a thing. Oh well.
  • Did you know? If you see a flower, then that means a wolf is going to attack Master Higgins from behind. I still remember this tip from Nintendo Power.
  • Would I play again: Adventure Island 3 has struck me with an ennui that I can barely describe. So, uh, no.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Robocop vs. Terminator for the SNES! Now that’s what I’m talking about! Some good ol’ fashioned cyborg on android violence. Please look forward to it!

FGC #276 Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

Zip alongMuscle memory is a hell of a drug.

While I’ve become something of a videogame glutton over the years (now celebrating my 70th purchase of a port of Tetris), when I was a wee Goggle Bob, my inventory was severely limited. If memory serves, by the time the Nintendo was being retired (which, reminder for you young’uns, the NES kept on trucking well after the release of the SNES, as companies didn’t quite know when to stop back in the day), I owned a whopping thirty NES games, and considered that dirty thirty to be more NES games than anyone would ever need. After all, I had Mega Man 1, 2, and 6, why would I need anything else?

But the flipside to this titanic collection was the rolling “neighborhood” games. I was a Nintendo kid, and my best friend was a Nintendo kid, and that one guy down the street was a Nintendo kid, and… you get the idea. We had our collected collections, and, pooling our resources, we created a sort of neighborhood library of Nintendo cartridges. Ultimately, it was no different from trading baseball cards or…. What do kids today play with?… Pogs? It was just like trading pogs, only with videogames, and, ya know, there was a significant expectation that you’d get the game back. And if not, then it was time to tell mom, because I wasn’t the one that blew fifty bucks on Wizards and Warriors 2. And speaking of mom, it was clear the parents of the neighborhood were on to our little NES black market, so it was very common for birthdays and Christmases to see complimentary games across the region. I got Ducktales, and Jon got Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. And when we’re both done, guess what’s going to happen? Trading time!

Of course, not all games are created equal.

Ducktales is a great game, but it’s a “kiddie” Disney game, and I have always been a totally, radically mature soul. So, right before Christmas, I changed my vote, claimed Ducktales was stupid, and convinced my parents (errr… Santa Claus) to purchase some other Nintendo game. I want to say it was TMNT: The Arcade Game, but it’s entirely possible it was any other videogame on Earth. Unfortunately, my best friend Jon’s parents didn’t get the memo (or didn’t care), so he still wound up with the “matching” Chip ‘n Dale. This, I figured in my young mind, was fortuitous, as it meant I got to play excellent Disney Capcom gaming just as easily when he was inevitably done with the game and I’d borrow it away to my Nintendo. Everybody wins! The only hang-up was a few months later when I discovered that he wasn’t ever going to let it go.

MeowChip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers is a two player co-op game. What’s more, it’s a two player co-op 2-D sidescroller on the NES, meaning it was released at a time when that kind of thing was almost completely unheard of. If you think about it, that’s really weird, as 2-D sidescrollers were all over the place, but I guess Super Mario Bros. was 2 player alternating, so that’s what everyone aped. In a way, this made CnDRR a magical unicorn in a field full of tubby cow ponies. But even more than that shining bit of rarity, CnDRR was just plain fun, and it was just as fun to play with a buddy as it was to play alone. Yes, two player “cooperative” might lead to a few more deaths by Chip scrolling Dale right off the screen, but it also meant instant respawning, which was fairly essential in some of the later stages/bosses. This all Voltroned together to make CnDRR the first “Smash Bros.” in my memory: if we were getting together (what today might be referred to as a “play date”), we were going to play Chip ‘n Dale, because it was fun for the whole (two people) gang. It didn’t matter if it was a joyous Saturday afternoon or ten minutes after Great Aunt Bernie’s funeral, it was time to hurl red balls at Fat Cat.

So the good news was that we had found a fun game that was going to dominate all of our play time for at least the next year, but the bad news was that Jon was going to continue to be the keeper of Chip ‘n Dale, and I could borrow the cartridge roughly around the same time that Monterey Jack gives up cheese. So I, poor wee Goggle Bob, was forced to only play this excellent game at Jon’s house, and never in the relaxing luxury of my own basement. Mine was a harsh childhood.

But this lead to an unusual phenomena.

Out!As previously mentioned, I had a collection of Nintendo games as a child. And, as you might expect, I am very good at these games. I’m not breaking any speedrun scores or however we judge Nintendo skill, but I’m pretty sure I can clear Quick Man’s stage on one life (don’t hold me to that). That said, many of the games from my childhood collection, whether through nostalgia or some manner of drive to learn the classics, I have played and re-experienced as an adult. To use Mega Man 2 as an example again, I’m likely to replay through the entire Mega Man franchise at least once a year, and most of the time that isn’t even because they just released yet another Mega Man collection. It’s just one of those things that happens, like an inexplicable urge to once again conquer Giant’s Imaginary Hallway in Final Fantasy.

But that never happened for Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. Maybe it was because I played it so much in my childhood (and it’s not exactly a complicated game), or maybe it was a side effect of always considering the game to be “kiddy”, but, one way or another, I never really got back around to playing CnDRR. I don’t feel like this is something I have to apologize for, I mean, there are other games on my backlog that have been sitting unplayed since the late 90’s (I’ll complete you one day, Castlevania 64)… Though, on the other hand, I do feel a little bit of guilt at not playing a game that had so completely ruled my childhood. What’s that? There’s a new Disney Afternoon Collection by the same folks behind the most recent Mega Man collection? And it’s available now? Oh, let’s do this thing.

And that’s about when I learned that that game you played over and over when you were seven might just stick in your brain.

YummyI plowed through Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers in about twenty minutes. I didn’t get hit at all during the first stage. The majority of the bosses (save that damn caterpillar) never touched Chip. Gadget was rescued, Fat Cat was trounced, and the day was saved, once again, by the indomitable Rescue Rangers. Also, I got that P bottle, and I’m still not completely sure what that does.

And… should I be surprised? I haven’t played the game for twenty years (low estimate!), but it’s like riding a bicycle (sidenote: bad simile, as I am terrible at riding a bicycle. Don’t ask). I didn’t think videogame “skills” were that pervasive in my unconscious mind, but, just like I can still open my high school locker in a few twists (assuming they haven’t changed the combination in fifteen years), I can beat Chip ‘n Dale inside of an hour. One whole game condensed to some part of my brain that will always remember exactly when to duck into a box. My conscious mind boggles.

Muscle memory: horrifying and useful.

FGC #276 Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

  • System: NES, and now, against all odds, available on the Playstation 4, Xbone, and PC. Yay!
  • Number of players: Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers.
  • Favorite Boss: Even though I usually skip his stage, this really is the game where Mega Man X3’s Volt Catfish got his start. Bless you, Capcom, and your unending reserves of electric catfish.
  • ChuggaUseless powers: Also, that same stage includes “the raft” and a hammer that may be used to clobber your way through dirt blocks. That makes two completely unique items in a completely skippable stage. What was going on there?
  • Chip or Dale: I always choose Chip, as he is the leader. And he has a cool hat. I decided to go with Dale for the FGC article, though, in the name of trying (absolutely not really) new things.
  • Further Childhood Memories: I remember being at Disney World when I was like five, and I asked my dad how to tell the difference between Chip and Dale. He replied that there was no way to do that, they’re just chipmunks, move on. Then a helpful Disney employee explained that Chip has a black nose “like a chocolate chip.” I was impressed with this knowledge, but even more than that, I remember my traditionally stoic father lighting up like an enthusiastic Christmas tree at this new information. See? You’re never too old to learn new facts about chipmunks.
  • Did you know? The flowers are supposed to provide 1-Ups after every 50 pickups (according to the manual), but it actually requires the more NES standard 100. There’s apparently a beta version of CnD floating around out there, though, where the fifty thing stays true. I can understand the change, at least, not like this game needed to be easier.
  • Would I play again? Probably! Just might take another twenty years. Let’s see how good I am at this game then.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS! Coins! All the coins for Mario! Please look forward to it!

DAMN BOXES

FGC #273 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

ThwipRobin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a NES movie tie-in game. We just covered Home Alone, released the same year, and that was a game that contained one stupid concept that was supposed to stretch over twenty minutes. RH:PoT is Home Alone’s bizarro evil twin (is that redundant?) , while HA did one thing poorly, Robin Hood attempts to do everything possible on the NES. And, head’s up, it still does it all poorly.

It’s a movie game!

First and foremost, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a licensed NES version of Kevin Costner’s film of the same name. Does… does anyone remember Costner’s Robin Hood? I saw it in theatres when I was a wee Goggle Bob, and I remember exactly two things about the movie: it was boring, and my dear mother had a minor freakout over an incredibly chaste sex scene that I can only vaguely recall. That’s… about it. However, I would have more fond memories of the movie if, like in the videogame, there was…

Dem Bones
A GIANT FUGGIN’ SKELETON MONSTER.

RH:PoT does its best to follow the will of Costner, but I apparently wasn’t the only one who was generally bored by the film. In addition to the basic stuff like Robin must befriend Little John and defeat the Sherriff of Nottingham, there are quite a few (mandatory) “side missions” on Robin’s to-do list. I guess there’s a rampaging boar attacking the countryside? Well, slaying that is a good way to earn the people’s trust. Then it’s time to take Robin’s Merry Men on a quest to get some actual weapons training. That’s probably a good idea, too. And, for some reason, everybody gets a bad case of the runs (maybe after eating that boar?), so Robin has to find a magical healing spring. Nothing like mystical bodies of water to keep the gang going.

Okay, let’s face it, with the exception of the boar, everything above sounds like a bore. But it does pad out the run time of the game… which is kind of weird for a NES game. This was well before the “80 hours of gameplay” bullet point, and, again, contemporary release Home Alone could only provide 20 minutes of gameplay. It’ll take you that long to get out of the first dungeon (literally a dungeon, for a change) of Robin Hood. That could have been the whole game! Nobody would have been upset! But no, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves has so much more to offer, likely to justify…

It’s got the inventory from hell!

I don't know what to do hereWith the exception of a few random bits we’ll be discussing shortly, you exclusively control Robin of Loxley for the majority of this game. Yet you pick up two new party members within the first screen, and gradually accrue more and more buddies from there. What’s the point when you’re only ever Robin? Simple: Robin can only carry six items at a time, and you’re going to need much, much more inventory space to conquer England. Robin needs to recover health, and Duncan has got some meat, so pass that ham over here, blindy, it’s time to top off the ol’ HP. I knew there was a reason we were keeping you around!

Unfortunately, this whole system goes downhill really quickly. To say it’s overcomplicated is kind of an understatement: Robin has multiple “body” slots, and an item like an amulet that proves your lineage can be “equipped” on any given body part (Hand? Chest? … Do amulets go in your pants?), or “used”, or even “eaten” if you want Robin to have to make a quick run to the healing spring. But first you have to remember which one of the knuckleheads in your party has the jewelry in the first place. Morgan Freeman, you got it? No? Little John? Nope? Dammit, did one of you dorks pawn that priceless family heirloom for beer money? I need that thing for a fetch quest, dammit!

And a quick side note, absolutely nothing about this inventory system is at all “necessary”. Final Fantasy (1) of 1987 solved the whole “try every inventory item everywhere” conundrum with its separate item, equipment, and key items slots… but Robin Hood didn’t get the memo, I suppose. Hey, Virgin Games? The NES controller only has four buttons. Maybe we could cut down a little on the bloat? Then again, bloat seems to be the name of the game, as…

It’s got four different gameplay modes!

They're made of dynamiteYou are Robin Hood. You are in a top-down, Zelda-esque environment. This seems to make sense, as you’re using keys and finding secret passages and battling guards in various Zelda-esque ways. You’re not going to be lucky enough to find any heart containers, but, aside from the thick layer of brown that’s been smeared all over this game, a lot of Robin’s adventure seems almost like a lost prototype for The Legend of Zelda 2. Okay… maybe Willow 2. Still! Not bad!

But then, after stabbing a guard down in top-down perspective, the second guard in the first area of Robin Hood suddenly initiates a “duel” system, and now you’re in a 2-D perspective that seems like some kind of weapons-based Street Fighter analogue. It’s time to d-d-d-d-d-duel, and it’s exactly as fun as repeatedly poking an opponent with an ineffectual stick can be. On the plus side, though, Robin suddenly has amazing ninja jumping skills, so he can leap eight feet in the air and somersault across the screen. Or roll around the ground like the sprightliest of hedgehogs. And I’m sure this isn’t all just to save on the animation budget. No, there was a lot of somersaulting in the movie, right?

And then, of course, post duel everything is back to top-down, because I guess that one guy was worthy of a duel, but every one of his identical buddies is just going to get stabbed in typical Zelda-style. It’s the NES-era, there doesn’t have to be a reason for anything.

Speaking of top-down, every once in a while you will be informed that “many” soldiers/enemies/skeletons are coming, so it’s time to zoom the camera way the hell out, convert all the sprites to something that would be comfortable on the Atari, and become Gauntlet: No Fun Edition. These “army fights” are the only spots where Robin’s Merry Men get to shine… and by “shine” I mean they all die instantly because they stand in front of the one dude shooting arrows like he’s on a CW drama. You-as-Robin must inevitably kill every last army opponent, because you can’t count on NES AI to do anything, and I suppose you’re expected to heal your now mortally wounded teammates after every skirmish. But what’s the point? They’re just going to die instantly again, one way or another. Nihilism, thy name is Robin Hood.

And then there’s an entire other mode for when you’re riding horseback. And it’s a lame knock-off of the Turbo Tunnel! Nobody wanted anything like that!

It’s a terrible NES game!

I say thee neighOn one hand, I want to laud Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves for trying so much when then average NES game offered so little. On the other hand, I feel like half the problems in this game are a result of design excess continually leading to further excess. You’ve got extra characters, so there has to be a battle mode to justify them, even if it isn’t any fun. There’s an inventory system that involves disproportionately intricate management, so let’s have 900 useless items. There are “significant” battles, so let’s make a half-baked entirely new mode for each “boss”… or any creature that remotely looks like a boss. And horses! We need to have a whole new world for horses! Horses are cool!

Unfortunately, and fairly obviously, none of these systems mesh together into anything approaching a fun experience. Robin Hood: Princes of Thieves might be the most robust licensed game on the NES… but it’s just about as fun as Home Alone.

Sorry, Virgin Games, no points for trying.

FGC #273 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

  • System: Nintendo Entertainment System. … Wait, there’s a Gameboy version, too?
  • Number of players: The stupid army segments might almost be passable if they allowed a second player to help out, but nope. Or, oh! A two-player duel mode! Could base an entire franchise on that.
  • You have failed this quiver: Robin Hood does get a bow pretty early, and it is nice to have a long-range weapon handy. Unfortunately, this Robin isn’t very dexterous, and “strafing” is pretty much beyond him. As a result, while the bow is useful for sniping melee opponents, Robin will always lose against some other dink with a bow. And then it’s back to that super fun inventory system to juggle over a more apt weapon…
  • Devil’s in the Details: Each character has a “look” command, and it’s your typical “describe the item” narration to help you distinguish a blob of pixels that maybe looks like a potion from a blob of pixels that maybe looks like bread. However, if you try to use Duncan’s “look” command…

    Poor guy

    … Poor Duncan.

  • Favorite Merry Man: Azeem is found just chilling in his cell, but he tells Robin he dug a secret passage out of the prison like five feet over. Was… was Azeem just waiting for some white dude to come along so he could help his escape? Huh. Little John’s “has a stick” kind of pales in comparison.
  • Filthy Cheater: There’s a complete “start on any chapter” password system that is accessible with a secret code. Unfortunately, the passwords will often start you off in levels where you need some particular item, and, nope, it’s completely inaccessible now. Karnov asks: why bother?
  • Did you know? They accidentally switched the character portraits for Guy of Gisbourne and The Sherriff of Nottingham. This is yet another slight that Alan Rickman was forced to endure.
  • Would I play again: Not for all the gold in Sherwood.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Arcana Heart for the Playstation 2! Wow, we went a while without a fighting game. Almost hard to believe. Now it’s time for teenage girls to fight for the amusement of perverts! Please look forward to it!

Ugh
Just roll with it

FGC #270 Kickle Cubicle

Here comes some kicking!I’m starting to worry that this website is doing something to my brain.

Today’s we’re exploring Kickle Cubicle… Kinda. Unfortunately for everyone reading this blog and expecting me to stay on topic, I’ve got bad news, Kickle Cubicle has forced me to reevaluate everything about Gogglebob.com, and, whoops, now you’re going to read an article about my random meanderings. Sorry! Blame Irem! They already destroyed the world once.

Er-hem… Kickle Cubicle is one of those weird NES action/puzzle hybrids that you don’t seem to see much anymore. Basically, you’ve got Kickle, a snowman looking fellow, and he’s in an overhead-viewed ice world with a few magical bags lying around. Kickle must collect these bags, but, horror of horrors, white ice people can’t jump, so he has to make his own frozen bridges. This is accomplished by using Kickle’s two skills: ice breath that can freeze (most) enemies into shovable ice cubes, and ice pillar summoning magic that… summons an ice pillar. There’s… probably a better name for that, but I can’t seem to find the manual anywhere around here. Regardless, Kickle can then kick these ice blocks around, and, using his pillars to guarantee the blocks aren’t pushed right off the world, these icy enemies can be made to fill in the gaps in Kickle’s world. The road to Heaven is paved with frozen monsters. Grab all the bags, move on to the next Swiss cheese stage, and repeat for four full worlds of fun.

More kicking!My first thought on reviewing KC was basically to compare it to other FGC entries. Kickle is rescuing vegetables in a frozen environment… just like a certain pair of Eskimos we all know and love. And Kickle’s ice-breath-to-freeze-monsters is very similar to Lolo’s eggifying beam, and with much the same purpose. In fact, my first inclination for this article was to make some kind of post about “missed opportunities” or something, and elucidate how Kickle Cubicle, a game released after both of the previously mentioned games, seems to take concepts from both and create an actually good game. Lolo would be better with unlimited “ice breath”, and Ice Climbers would be better as any other game on the planet. Kickle Cubicle strangely draws from those old games (couldn’t just copy Mario like everybody else, hm?), but creates its own, unique experience. A lesson is learned, and malevolent clowns are frozen in ice. Win-win.

And then something snapped in my brain. I realized my first impulse to contextualize this game was to compare it to two games I had played recently. And then I realized that “recently” in reference to The Adventures of Lolo 2 was almost a year and one hundred articles ago, and Ice Climber was friggen FGC #10, nearly a full year before that eggplant nonsense. And then I realized that that means I’ve been maintaining this site and the “Fustian Gaming Challenge” for nearly a full two years. And then I needed to sit down.

And, since I apparently can only work through my problems through writing, here we are.

My first impulse was, basically, fear. I play videogames, I like videogames, and I own approximately twelve billion little discs and plastic boxes that play videogames. However, I don’t consider myself a gamer. I am a well-rounded, special human being with wants and desires, and, incidentally, I play videogames. Never mind that I’ve been playing videogames constantly since I was five. Never mind that I consider “selling off” bits of my collection to be some manner of heresy (and have thought as much since I was six). Never mind that I bought a house based almost entirely on how I could picture my “future” gaming room (“The NES games will look perfect stacked on these shelves” “Sir, that’s supposed to be for kitchenware”). No, I’m not addicted, I can stop anytime I want. Haha, this relationship with my ex-girlfriend is just like my relationship with the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, that’s not weird at all, right?

More clowning!But outright denial about my own lot in life aside, my second thought was the fear that this site is eating itself, ouroboros style. Some additional context for that one: I used to be in a rock band. We’ve covered this before. We played original music, and released two albums that were purchased by… let’s see here, how many members of the band had parents?… probably ten people. The first album had lyrics that were about all sorts of stuff, from love songs to rebellion to watching anime (to be clear, the song was a metaphor for feeling like an outcast for enjoying something different than other people, it wasn’t The Ballad of Shinji… wait… maybe it was). The second album, meanwhile, was released after a solid two years of touring, playing podunk venues, cooperating with other bands “in the scene” that you could barely trust to not steal your guitar picks, and absolutely not selling any albums (but maybe a t-shirt?). Suffice it to say, we may have been a little bitter about all that, and, when I listen to that album now, I can identify that a healthy 75% of the lyrics are either coded or overt references to experiences within the band, some musical complaints even aimed at other members of the band. A year after that album was released, the band was a hobbled, broken mess that eventually went out with a whimper at some carnival thing. Anybody want to hear a pretty okay cover song? We used to do original music, but it became so filled with venom, even we didn’t want to hear it anymore…

And, honestly, I fear seeing that happen to the site. No, I don’t dislike writing these articles, and, no, I don’t have some kind of weird feud with the comments section or something (Metal Man Master, please keep posting!), but I fear the site becoming about itself, rather than, ya know, the whole of human existence. I’ve been writing about three different videogames every week for the last two years, and I’m worried that will impact my ability to think about anything else. The third article on this site was kind of about Mega Man V, but more about the death of my grandfather. And then the next article was about a ghost ninja skeleton. This site has always been eclectic, but I genuinely fear the idea that my brain is only thinking about videogames now, and, thus, I can only compare games to games to games to games until the end of time.

But then… I got over it.

More kicking!I want to say there’s some secret, good ending here. I want to say that the next game I’m covering is, I don’t know, Mother Issues II: The Revenge, and I’ll turn in a fine essay about the human condition and compare it to the struggle of the common man. Unfortunately, I know that’s not going to happen. Next on the hit list is probably a fighting game, and I’ll probably just fixate on the fact that there’s a dinosaur involved or something. I know how my mind works, and I know I can’t arbitrarily force a sincere, humanistic article any more than I can indiscriminately create a historical look at the Hero of Time.

But it all boils down to one stupid, narcissistic thing: I like reading my old articles. I like watching my old videos. It took ages to put together that silly Bohemian Rhapsody thing, and, by all accounts, I should be God damn sick of that thing by now (I pretty much reviewed that project’s progress, listening to the whole six minute song, every night for a month), but… I still like it. And it’s not just about staring into the mirror and giving my sexy bod a thumbs up, it’s that I genuinely like what I’m producing here, and that means I sometimes enjoy it as creator and audience. From moment one of this blog, my mission statement was to produce the kind of content that I’d like to see, and, somehow, after nearly two years, I’m still doing that.

Even got a crosspadSo if I’m in a videogame rut right now, that’s okay. I still like what I’m producing, and, whether I’m talking about a bear in bear armor or lecturing on Zelda, I’m proud of this site. Yes, some articles might wind up dependent on other articles, but that’s natural now that this blog has become a part of my life like, ya know, the rest of my life. I didn’t quit the Xenosaga LP when I realized I spent most of Easter Sunrise Service thinking about magical space robots, and I’m not quitting this blog because a videogame blog has a tendency to talk about videogames.

Yes, Gogglebob.com and the FGC have done something to my brain, but, hey, I can live with that.

FGC #270 Kickle Cubicle

  • System: NES… and that’s it. This would be good as a mobile release, but… Oh? There was an arcade version? That had to be weird.
  • Number of players: I suppose at least Ice Climber can tout its two player mode, while Kickle Cubicle is a strictly one-player affair.
  • You know, you could have saved this navel-gazing article for the actual two year anniversary of the site: I yam what I yam.
  • Veggie Tales: Was there some kind of eggplant shortage during the 80’s in Japan? Why are they everywhere on the NES? This is really bothering me…
  • More kicking!Favorite Enemy: Hey, I found the instruction manual, and apparently the bird-in-a-hat looking enemy is named Mr. Hoople, and his description reads: “Tries to get in the way”. He might be the least threatening “menace” on the NES, and that’s from the same system that premiered the slime.
  • Did you know? There are two malevolent clown enemies in this game, Bonkers and Piro. That should not be allowed.
  • Would I play again: Maybe! Seriously! It seems like there’s a lot of promise in this action/puzzle game. Give me a Switch port, and I’m there.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Shinobi for the Playstation 2! I guess three months between ninja entries is allowed. Shinobi grabs his shuriken yet again! Please look forward to it!

More kicking!