Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three more PC Engine games that I want to like, but can't

A few weeks ago, I published a post about three Namcot-made PC Engine games that I want to like but can't. Well, here are three more such games--although, in this case, only one of them was produced by the folks responsible for Pac-Man.

1. Batman (1990)

Why I want to like it: It's a Batman game. Duh! Also, I rather like the look of the Batman sprite and the top-down view of the action--a welcome change from all of the side-scrolling efforts (like this one and this one) that flooded the market following the success of Tim Burton's 1989 film.


Why I can't: It's pretty darn boring. It starts off well enough, but after a few levels your eyes glaze over (or at least mine did) due to this Sunsoft-developed title's dreary, repetitive environs and yawn-inducing gameplay.

2. Deep Blue (1989)

Why I want to like it: Well, there's the game's box art, for starters, which intriguingly shows a fish-shaped ship firing at a gigantic octopus. And then there are its in-game graphics, which are--in screenshots, at least--similarly intriguing thanks to their gritty, somewhat-realistic sheen.


Why I can't: Unfortunately, those gritty, somewhat-realistic graphics are awfully repetitive in action. That's the least of this Pack-in-Video-made title's problems, though. Much more offensive than its graphics is its gameplay, which pits your slow, underpowered fish-sub against hordes of speedy, zig-zagging gill-breathers that are nearly impossible to avoid.  

3. Marchen Maze (1990)

Why I want to like it: Anyone who has been visiting this blog for more than a day or so likely knows I'm a sucker for cute games. Well, this Alice in Wonderland-esque release definitely fits into that category thanks to its bubble-blowing, pigtailed protagonist and a cast of "baddies" that include sunglasses-wearing mushrooms and pink, wind-up-toy penguins.


Why I can't: This game may be cute, but it's no cakewalk. In fact, it's frustratingly--and often cheaply--challenging. You're constantly being barraged with bullets and other obstacles that send you over the brink (each stage is a platform that floats in space) and eat up one of your precious lives.

It should be noted that none of the above-mentioned games are terrible. On the contrary, each of them contain one or two or even three elements (such as graphics, music or overall concept) that make me think they could be completely enjoyable--if only they didn't contain a number of flaws, too.

See also: 'Three PC Engine games I want to like, but can't'

18 comments:

Kamiwoo said...

Darn, looks can sure be deceiving, because all three of those games look interesting on the surface! Especially that Batman game! It really does stand out among the usual types of games that franchise is known for.

Maybe I'll give them a shot just to experience them. Marchen Maze is too cute to completely ignore!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Well, like I say at the end of the post, they're far from terrible games, Kamiwoo -- although I wouldn't fault anyone for using that word to describe Deep Blue. Batman and Marchen Maze are worth checking out, IMO, although you might want to do so via emulation before dropping any money on real-life copies of them. Let's just say they're enjoyable to a point and could have been much more so :)

Motherplayer said...

Ohhh I quite liked the genesis batman. What I love is still looking at the box from any region, and they all knew the logo spoke for itself. I loved that about the 89 batman. The style is still all there.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Interesting comment, Motherplayer! Anyway, I agree about the 89 Batman having a certain, particular style. Interestingly, most (all?) of the Batman games released in the wake of the film were made by Sunsoft and were worth a rental, at least.

Kamiwoo said...

Emulation was the plan, Bryan, when it comes to "iffy" older games, that's my usual course of action first... even if I've already played them once, subsequent future playthroughs (as well as the box/manual art you and I both love) still make them worth picking up later on!

Deep Blue seemed like the weakest link here, definitely. I'll try that one out... last ;D

Motherplayer said...

Yeah I noticed that. Hell the genesis, nes and gameboy versions even had the music composed by the same composer. That should also be an interesting note and they all sound great on their respective systems.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yes, emulation should always be the first step in these cases, Kamiwoo. Why waste money on an old game until you know you're going to like it?

Anyway, yes, Deep Blue is by far the weakest link here. Personally, I'd say Batman is the most enjoyable, followed by Marchen Maze, with Deep Blue following quite a bit behind.

I'd like to say Marchen Maze is the most enjoyable, by the way, as I realllllly like its art/graphics, but, man, it can be *frustrating*. I tend to pick it up, force my way through the first few stages and then angrily turn it off after dying way too many times :(

One last thing: I'll be interested to hear what you think of Deep Blue. I fully expect you to hate it!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, I forgot there was a GameBoy version of Batman, Motherplayer, although I guess I should have expected one. I also didn't know the GameBoy, Genesis and NES versions were composed by the same person. Interesting!

Viewtiful_Justin said...

That Batman game looks awesome! It's too bad they ruined it by leaving out the interesting environments.

Bryan Ochalla said...

You should give it a try, Justin. Many folks -- such as IcaNEC over at The Bros Duomazov -- really like the game. I don't hate it, BTW; I just wish it were more interesting :)

Famicom Freak said...

Damn what a downer for the Batman title...I guess I'll continue to try to conquer the NES release. Batman KICKS ASS!!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Famicom Freak: I recommend trying it for yourself before deciding it's crap. That wasn't my intention with these posts. Really! I just wanted more from them. Like I said at the end of the post, none of them are terrible -- I was just hoping for and/or expecting more than I got. I plan to own all of them sooner or later, BTW.

RetroKingSimon said...

I agree that Deep Blue is rather poor but Marchen Maze looks splendid! What a shame it isn't :(

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yeah, Deep Blue *could* have been good, Simon, and it *does* include some interesting ideas, but, man, it is *not* fun to play :(

Marchen Maze is much better, BTW, so you should give it a try. LIke I've said a few times now, it's not at all terrible. In fact, I like playing it every now and then (via emulation) and I plan to pick up an actual copy of it soon.

That said, I pretty much always walk away from the game feeling frustrated. It's just hard to enjoy being pushed around and pushed over the edge of the stage as often as you are in this game :(

Famicom Freak said...

Hmm then I will surely look for them well maybe try them via emulator and see how I handle them. Thanks for the info!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yeah, I'd definitely suggest trying them via emulation before picking up actual copies of them. Although a number of PCE games are of the "pick up a copy of it if you see it, even if you haven't played it" variety, but these three aren't among them :)

Sean said...

I bought Deep Blue once simply because I had 300 yen in my pocket and wanted to buy a PC Engine game. I quite agree. I just based my purchase on the look of the HU card and hoped it would be a Sqoon-like submarine game.

But it was a bit disappointing. Very repetetive, very frustrating and the dark blue environment kind of made me feel melancholy.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey, Sean! Well, at least it was just 300 yen. Oh, wouldn't it be great if this game were like Sqoon? Hell, I'd take the game as-is if it were a little less frustrating and repetitive. Sigh.