Heroes of the Lance
At a Glance: In 1990, SSI challenged D&D players to trade their 20-sided dice for game controllers and pit their magic missiles against the most cunning foe of all, their Nintendos. When asked to comment on this game, our focus group of random people from the middle ages seemed relatively unimpressed and demanded to be returned to their magical, enchanted time period which was completely free of war, disease, and oppressive monarchies.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 100k
Game Plot: Were all the good game ideas used up in 1990, or did Nintendo just have an unplayable crap quota they had to fill every year? Either way, I'm still not any closer to a good explanation of how any game could be as utterly terrible as Heroes of the Lance. The only way this game would ever be remotely fun is if it came with a Nintendo peripheral that triggers orgasms. And even then I'd probably only play it while waiting for Lowtax to upload next month's batch of raver porn ads.
Heroes of the Lance tells the story of 8 warriors on a quest to find The Disks of Mishakel, the only artifact powerful enough to unlock the secret of what gender they're each supposed to be. I think the manual's version of the story is the longest consecutive string of words ever devoted to the plot of a Nintendo game. To NES players who were used to one-paragraph introductions about saving the president's daughter, it probably looked like some secret code written entirely in complete, well-punctuated sentences.
Enemies: Several unique and special creatures you may recognize if you've played any other RPG ever made. The deadliest monster is the dwarf, although probably not intentionally. As much as I'd like to believe it was supposed to be invincible, it seems a lot more likely that this game just sucks at math. I could probably program a better collision detection system on my VCR.
Even after taking the popular game of Dungeons & Dragons and digitally removing all the sweaty nerds and cardboard shields, SSI still couldn't come up with a product that was remotely playable. Combat consists of stabbing an enemy in the face with your phallic-shaped dragonlance for several minutes until someone finally registers a hit. Forget David Fincher's groundbreaking feature-length MTV special, Fight Club, if you can watch this crap for 2 hours and still not think violence is sick and wrong, you must either be Bruce Willis or the Christian deity who wanted all those wars started last millennium.
Weapons: This state-of-the-art unpopularity simulation replaces your primitive wooden swords with sexy pixel art and 8-bit farting sounds, all controlled by a cold, unfeeling computer brain incapable of remorse. It's impossible to level up, though, so there's absolutely no reason to fight anything unless you enjoy hearing the combat sound effects, which sound like they were recorded by a 70-year old man receiving the blowjob of a lifetime.
Number of Levels: Just one big maze. The black & white backgrounds may seem repetitive at first, but in reality they serve as brilliant counterpoint to the characters' flamboyant pink costumes, earning this game a perfect 10 for aesthetic minimalism.
One thing that makes Heroes of the Lance particularly brilliant as a masterpiece of absolute crap is that the doors have pits next to them that go to the exact same room. The saddest part is you can tell by how many times it's used that the designer truly believed he had come up with a great new idea that would revolutionize gaming. I can just imagine how much he must've cried after playing the game and realizing how spectacularly retarded it was.
Number of Bosses: There's supposed to be a big dragon at the end. Someone told me you can beat this game in under 5 minutes, which I can only assume was their way of alluding to the fact that dying secretly counts as beating the game.
Defining Moment: Eventually it reached a point where I couldn't justify playing Heroes of the Lance any longer against the enormous electric bill it was running up shooting low frequency carrier waves of suck at my other Nintendo games. I'm pretty sure the next time I put in River City Ransom, Alex will start screaming racial epithets at me, shortly before putting on a cheerleader uniform and attempting to eat his own toes.
To experience Heroes of the Lance in its originally intended form, put your Nintendo next to a window and hire a midget to stand outside and hold up puppets while attempting to do all the CPU calculations on a 4-function Pokemon calculator that's 10 sizes too small for his stubby midget fingers.
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).