Well, it’s been one of the weeks where it’s been hard to get out of bed in the mornings for work, and even harder to stay awake through the morning hours. To say the least this weekend has been a fight against wanting to just veg, and actually getting up and getting stuff accomplished. Luckily the latter managed to win a bit, and with it some games managed to get played as well. This weekend became an unofficial NES weekend, something I’ve needed in a long time, since sometimes you just need comfort gaming and the simplicity of 8-bit.

 

This Weeks Buys:.

 

Deserts of Kharak (PC-Steam) – Yes, finally the PC game I’ve been waiting to get on sale through Humble Bundle at more than 60% off. I haven’t had the chance to install it yet, but I can’t wait to play it.
Desert Falcon (Atari 7800) – I have a minor desert theme going, sorry. So, yes on my way to wearing down my Atari 7800 wishlist and finishing off my collection.
Tutankham (Atari 2600) – Um, I guess I’m continuing the desert theme. So yes adding to the Atari 2600 collection.
Dark Chambers (Atari 7800) – Got a great deal on this one so one more towards completing the 7800 collection.

 

This Weeks Plays:

 

Cobra Command (NES) ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 – If you didn’t know, Choplifter was never actually released on the NES although it did see a Famicom port. So Cobra Command is the closest thing to Choplifter we got on the NES, which is ironic since Cobra Command is so much like Choplifter II on the Game Boy. Anyway, in case you haven’t picked up on it Cobra Command is basically a Choplifter clone, where you fly a combat helicopter and pick up prisoners, but with a few differences. One of the main differences is that unlike Choplifter, where you blast your way into P.O.W. camps and rescue many prisoners at once, in Cobra Command they are scattered throughout stages individually. Once found, unlike Choplifter where you must land to get prisoners, in Cobra Command your helicopter can extend a rope to your escapees. Cobra Command also features some unique stages and substages as well, much like it’s subterranean levels which are also part of the above mentioned Choplifter II’s gameplay as well. Lastly, unlike Choplifter you can’t turn your helicopter around, meaning returning your escapees to homebase is an impossibility.

 

As I understand it Cobra Command is actually based on a 1984 laser-disc arcade game which has a Blue Thunder feel plot wise, and looks a bit more like Sega’s Thunder Blade. So in all actuality it’s nothing like its NES port, and the only thing in common is Data East. Of course why Data East went with more of a Choplifter vibe than with their actual arcade property I’ll never know, especially when Lucasarts was able to pull something similar off with Rescue On Fractalus for the Atari 5200 and 800. Perhaps, I’ll send that question off to the 2 Dudes and a NES Podcast for an answer. Maybe I should also ask why Broderbund never decided to directly port Choplifter to the NES as well. So graphics wise this one is Ok, but I found the colors to be a bit dark, and at times it makes things a bit hard to see and contrast. Control wise it works pretty well and is very responsive and intuitive, but it’s hard to get Choplifter out of your head when playing this, and it took me awhile to get past wanting to turn my chopper around, that’s just me of course. Originality wise as mentioned it is a bit of a Choplifter clone, but it takes the concept in a unique direction that almost feels as if it inspired some of the levels in Choplifter II. It also reminds me a bit of Activisions similarly named Chopper Command on the Atari 2600 too, since both the gameplay and name are somewhat comparable, as is another Atari 2600 game Super Cobra. It’s not a supremely awesome game, but does have a true NES adventure vibe which is always worth experiencing especially when one of 8-bits most legendary games, Choplifter, isn’t available on the platform.

 

Joust (NES) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Having ports of Joust on several systems there’s not much for me to say. It’s a resident of my Atari 5200, 7800, PS2, and my X-Arcade MAME cabinet, and now on my NES. I will make the highly controversial statement of saying I liked the Atari 7800 version a little better than the NES version though, but the NES has the better sound (obviously). Graphically this one looks extremely good and on par if not better than the real deal on arcade. Control wise it’s good but the 7800 version was a little tighter. Originality wise it’s a classic arcade Apples to Apples port, so not much to say there. If you’re an NES collector you probably want this one.

 

Wizards & Warriors III (NES) ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 – A longtime resident of my wishlist and completing the franchise for me. Despite the serious looking labels and box art, these games are always kind of cartoony and a bit humorous. Graphics wise it’s not bad, and its clear whats going on. Control wise it’s also very good, and reacts and fights well. As far as originality it doesn’t stray too far from this first two games, but there are also many other games on the NES like this. With that said though I’m a fan of the franchises super serious fantasy labels, juxtaposed against its overall goofy nature. I would only suggest buying this if you’re a fan of the series or NES fantasy games.

 

Marble Madness (NES) ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I picked this one up at Reckless Records, at the same time I bought U2’s Joshua Tree (as mentioned in Weekend Spins). The game section is hidden in a small glass case in a corner somewhat obscured by the Jazz record bins. For $5 I couldn’t  pass it by, although it was just a supporting actor in my record store bag that afternoon. Anyway Marble Madness is known for being hard, and the “Madness” part of the title is often joked at as being a warning, but I have to agree. As I understand it this one was an arcade game that had a trackball to control the marble. Many say the lack of a trackball in porting it to the NES, means the game lost a lot in translation. Of course I can’t speak for that since I’ve never run into a Marble Madness cabinet in the wild. Graphics wise this one is ok and somewhat simple, and it reminded me of Captain Skyhawk also on the NES. The graphics do have an Atari 2600 meets ZX Spectrum feel to it though, being a bit basic feeling. Control wise, it’s not easy but I think the hard control is stylized to the game itself. Originality wise this game has it in spades, and truly is different but its easy to see why it hasn’t spawned any successors. As an NES collector you may want to pick this one up.

 

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (NES) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Bonus points for being an 8-bit Star Wars game. This is another game long stranded on my wishlist, finally taken off after getting a fairly good deal this week. Just like its infamous younger SNES siblings the Star Wars games of the NES aren’t easy either and take a lot of liberty with the story lines and Empire Strikes Back here is no different. Graphics wise it’s great, clear, fun and downright lovable. Control wise it can be kind of stiff, especially in jumping, that just really sucks, especially when timing is a key issue. Originality, wise I love it, it follows Empires story, but adds it’s own odd twists to it. As an NES collector you need this one, as a Star Wars fan you can’t live without it especially just to hear the Star Wars theme in 8-bit.

 

If all goes well this week I may be having another vintage computer gaming weekend next week, fingers crossed on that. Until then have a good weekend everyone!!

 

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