Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Shall We Do It? (Flying Hero, Ghosts 'n Goblins, Kickle Cubicle, Pooyan and Son Son)

You know what I've been daydreaming about for the last few weeks? Someday having a small, cozy den with a with a rather modest TV and an original Famicom system set up in its far corner.

Oh, and within reach of that TV and Famicom would be a small selection of pick-up-and-play Famicom games, of course. Like Flying Hero, Meikyūjima (aka Kickle Cubicle) and Pooyan.

Thanks to those daydreams, I spent a good number of minutes and even hours playing the above-mentioned games--along with a few others, like Jaleco's Racket Attack--this past weekend. Here are some thoughts on them, in case anyone's interested.

Flying Hero--I chat about this game here and on Twitter on a regular basis, I know. The fact is, though, that it's really great title for when you've only got time--or energy--for a couple of minutes of gaming. I've got to warn you, though: if you're anything like me, you'll very likely put more than a couple of minutes into this Arkanoid-esque cart whenever you stick it into your trusty Famicom (or, you know, boot up its ROM on your PC). Me, I usually dump at least 30 minutes into it during each attempt--and even then I have to pull myself away from it. What's the draw here? I guess I just like bat-and-ball games with an interesting twist. (See my ages-old review of Wizorb for additional evidence.) Plus, I really like all of the little details that are packed into Flying Hero; namely, a wealth of different settings, NPCs and power-up items.

Ghosts 'n Goblins--Here's another game I've long ignored. In this case, though, I know why I've given it the cold shoulder: it's hard as hell. To the point that previous experiences with it usually caused me to want to slam my controller into the nearest wall. Still, I felt like playing it last weekend so that's just what I did. And you know what? I mostly enjoyed it. I've always been a big fan of this game's graphics, and I like its controls quite a bit, too. And then there's the soundtrack, which creates the perfect atmosphere for all of the monster bashing that's to come. OK, so I suck at this spooky side-scroller--known as Makaimura in its country of origin--and I'm not going to see its end credits (or even its third stage, if I'm to be honest) anytime soon, but I think I'll still get a kick out of playing it every now and then.

Kickle Cubicle--I'm honestly bamboozled by the fact that I've barely spent any time with this Irem-made action-puzzler over the years. It seems right up my alley, after all. Not only does it have a cute-as-buttons protagonist, but its enemies (if you can call them that) are adorable, too. And then there's the fact that it features tons of collectible fruit and vegetables and other food items--and that's always been something that piqued my interest. On top of all of that, this cartridge's gameplay is addicting as can be. It actually reminds me of other great titles from the same period--like Adventures of Lolo and Bubble Bobble. They're not all of the same genre, naturally, but they all come from the same "just one more level" mold. Speaking of which, I kind of want to get back to it now.

Pooyan--Although Pooyan was released for the Famicom just over two years after Nintendo's console first hit the streets of Japan, it began life in 1982 as an arcade game. That makes a lot of sense when you sit down and play this late-to-the-party home port. Pooyan's a fairly straightforward and basic quarter-muncher with few bells and whistles. You control a pig who has to defend her forest home from a seemingly endless swarm of balloon-carrying wolves. Oh, and you do this by firing arrows--some of which strangely contain chunks of meat--at said canids. Don't worry, it's less weird while you're actually playing it. It's also a lot of fun--if fairly limited from a gameplay perspective. Still, I get the urge to play it on a regular basis, so obviously it does something right despite being more than a little archaic.

Son Son--This Capcom title is in the same boat as Pooyan, actually. It, too, is an old arcade game (first released in 1984) that earned a Famicom port a couple of years later. Also, Son Son doesn't offer players a whole lot of variety when it comes to gameplay. Basically, you're put into the shoes of a chibi version of the "Monkey King" and tasked with, well, I'm not exactly sure. Regardless, from the moment the game starts, you're on the move--this is an auto-scrolling platformer, if you weren't aware--and forced to jump between six platforms, shoot oncoming baddies and collect pieces of food. Although the look of the platforms changes (from grass, to brick, to stone and more), as do the approaching enemies, you see all you're going to see from Son Son shortly after you hit your Famicom's "Start" button. Some may consider that a negative, but not me. I like that this is a streamlined experience. Don't expect more than that when you sit down to play it and you'll have a good time, too.

See also: previous 'Shall We Do It?' posts

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