The bigfoots in the early levels are easy, but later on they get replaced by ones that instantly regain all their health if you go half a second without hitting them.
Snake Rattle and Roll
Just like every other game on this list, Snake Rattle and Roll makes absolutely no sense. You play as a snake named Rattle, only he isn’t a full snake yet because he only has one ball trailing behind his big bulbous head. In order to become a full snake you have to chase down and eat little colored balls called nibbley pibbleys. Different colored nibbley pibbleys give you different amounts of energy, and once you get enough energy your tail grows by an extra segment. Getting hit causes you to lose a section of your tail, unless you have no tail left, in which case it makes your head slowly float up into the air while spinning faster and faster until it explodes. The end of each level is protected by a closed door, but there is always a scale nearby. If your snake has the maximum number of tail segments when he jumps on the scale, he’ll max it out and ring the bell, which opens the door at the end of the level.
Unfortunately for Rattle, the nibbley pibbleys are mean little bastards who really don’t want to be eaten, so over the course of the game they develop more and more sophisticated methods of getting away from you. At the beginning they just make little pathetic attempts to roll away, but as the levels go on they learn to grow springs and bounce away, grow legs and run away, and even fly away by growing bat wings and helicopter rotors.
Oh, and there’s also a part where a machine spits out anvils at you and every now and then shoots out a giant fish tail, and you need to hang around dodging all the anvils until you get a fish tail so you can swim vertically up a waterfall to get to the upper part of the level. I don’t know what the fuck’s up with that.
Kick! Punch! It's all in the mind! Phantom Fighter
Of all the games mentioned here, this is probably the least well known. Phantom Fighter tells the heartwarming tale of a Japanese guy, his funny hat, his retarded sidekick and his noble quest to go from door to door beating up “kyonshies.” For those of you who don’t know what a kyonshie is, you can educate yourself by watching the hit movie Robo Vampire, a film that distinguishes itself by putting an exploding helicopter on the box cover and then failing to include a single helicopter in the entire movie. A kyonshie is some kind of weird Japanese zombie thing that attacks by holding his arms out and slowly hopping toward you. You can defend yourself against this deadly attack by walking up and kicking the kyonshie in the chest, at which point he will either stand there motionless or perform the famous combat maneuver known as “falling on his ass.”
You go from house to house punching and kicking kyonshies and making them fall on their respective asses until they run out of health, explode and light the floor on fire. It takes a while for the game to become challenging, but once it does you can give yourself the edge by talking to the old guy conveniently located in each town and asking them to teach you special moves. See, normally you’re able to crouch and you’re able to punch, but by talking to the right old guy you can teach yourself to do both at once! Same goes for jumping and kicking! Or you can train yourself to punch twice after only hitting the punch button once, which I guess would come in handy if someone recently urinated on your B button and you don’t want to touch it any more than you have to.
Now it is the beginning of a fantastic story! Let us make a journey to the cave of monsters! Good luck! Bubble Bobble
This was a very well-known game during the 8-bit age, but I still felt it was worth showing here as an example of what happens when designers think up game ideas while drinking LSD milkshakes. As maybe eight or nine of you don’t already know, this is a game about spiky little dinosaurs who blow bubbles out of their mouths to trap their enemies and then smash them against walls and floors to turn them into fruit. It also happens to inexplicably be one of the greatest video games ever made. As you fight your way through 99 levels, not to mention the extra levels that you can get to with a trick in level 99, you get to use some of the most fucked up items in the history of fucked up items.
A floating bubble with a picture of a turkey on it. Popping this bubble drops a fireball that hits the floor and spreads over a small area. Any enemies who touch this fire will instantly die, but if you touch it you just make a pained face and start walking really slowly.
The famous level-skipping umbrella. When you grab the umbrella your dinosaur guy will float up into the air and make goofy faces at you while the next five or six levels go scrolling by.
A giant tennis shoe. Getting this shoe makes you run faster, and for some reason it also makes you fall faster.
A green potion in a flask that’s bigger than you are. When you get the potion every single enemy will disappear and a bunch of giant cookies will appear in midair. You have a certain amount of time to go after the cookies, and after that time elapses you’ll recieve bonus points depending on how many cookies you ate. Then you automatically skip to the next level.
My favorite thing about all three of these games was the fact that they were so unapologetically bizarre, and because they were free from the restriction of having to make sense the designers were able to craft some of the most enjoyable games known to man. Sure, there were plenty of bad NES games, but back then it was possible to take even the stupidest concept and make a good game out of it. If you think I’m wrong about that, consider this: remember MC Kids? The platformer with Ronald McDonald and Grimace that existed solely to spread McDonald’s propaganda? I know it’s a difficult thing to admit, but that was a good game. I don’t know what happened to all the people responsible for taking stupid ideas and making them into good games, but I wish they would come back. As long as companies are constantly vomiting out games based on the latest hot movie on a two-week development cycle, these people are going to be in high demand.
If I haven’t already bored you into clicking the Back button with my ramblings about 15-year-old games, then tune in next week for similar ramblings about Duck Tales, Little Nemo and The Adventures of Lolo!
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