Random quote:



Check out my other site, RPGreats, for honest RPG reviews!

4/30/2015

Top 100 Worst NES Games, #70-61

70. Faria: A World of Mystery and Adventure! (Game Arts, 1991)

Game Arts is a beloved company to many old-school gamers, responsible for the beloved Lunar and Grandia franchises, as well as for some other cult favorites like Silpheed on the Sega CD and Alisia Dragoon on the Sega Genesis.  One of their earlier outings on home consoles, however, was not so well received.  Faria has all the makings of a good 8-bit RPG - well-detailed visuals, charming characters and a creative fantasy world - but the gameplay unfortunately does not stack up.  Combat in the game, rather than a turn-based format, is done in real-time, with you trying to defeat enemies in an overhead battlefield before they deplete your HP.  Unfortunately, some spotty hit detection makes it difficult to take hits without being hit yourself, and you die very easily, especially early on, when you can go straight from an encounter with some weak bug enemies to getting your face punched in by a hulking red monster many times your current level.  Running from combat only docks you further, causing you to lose experience, gold, or even equipment you've picked up (which really sucks when you drop a piece of gear you just spent hours grinding for).  Pair that with uninteresting dungeon designs and a extraordinarily high encounter rate, and you have a game that just isn't fun to play.  You'd expect a lot better from the studio that brought us the legendary Lunar games just a few years later, but Faria is an RPG that sadly ranks among the system's worst.

69. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (Imagineering, 1992)

Ah, Imagineering.  A company that brought us many underwhelming licensed titles including the three Simpsons licensed games, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors (the title that brought us the notorious minigame Desert Bus) and a couple other turkeys we'll get to later on this list.  Home Alone 2 holds a very special place on a lot of gamer shitlists, though.  Programmed in only three months to coincide with the film's release, and it definitely shows in the presentation - ugly visuals and numerous sound effects recycled from their earlier titles.  But then you pair that with clunky controls, unclear objectives, confusing design decisions (a boss that's immune to all weapons, but strangely vulnerable to your knee-slide move - which doesn't damage anything else in the game?) and an overall length of only four levels, and you've got a recipe for disaster.  But the real tragedy of this game is that it's actually dedicated in memory of someone, as seen in the opening scroll...

68. Amagon (Aicom, 1989)

Amagon is yet another dime-a-dozen side scrolling shooter with platforming elements, and does nothing to differentiate itself from any other game like it.  The visuals are bland and unappealing, the levels are just flat plains full of enemies, you can only fire in one direction (straight ahead), your bullets require extremely precise hit detection and don't even travel the full length of the screen, and your jump is the same awkward jump you've seen in every bad Game Maker game on the Internet - go straight up at one speed, hit the peak of your jump height, go straight down at the same speed.  All  in all, just a thoroughly mediocre experience.  But this game wouldn't have been nearly as high on the list were it not for one factor: that bloody ear-rape they call audio.  Every tune in the game is high-pitched, tinny and annoying, and every sound effect (few though they are) is seemingly engineered to sound awful - the bullets are just a flat burst of static, and every enemy dies with the same shrill noise.  Amagon isn't a game so much as it is psychological torture.

67. Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode (Vic Tokai/Seibu Lease, 1988)

Golgo 13 is a beloved manga franchise in Japan, following the exploits of the asssassin Duke Togo through a long-running serial drama of political intrigue and covert ops.  Stuff which makes for a pretty compelling read, but which unfortunately didn't translate well to the video game medium, especially not with the limited technology of the NES.  The game plays out through various viewpoints, from side-scrolling scenes to first-person shooting scenes to the occasional 3d maze or sniping level; unfortunately, none of these elements are handled particularly well.  Sidescrolling stages are made difficult by your slow movement, awkward jumping, inability to duck and the constant swarm of enemies you're under attack from, and the 3D segments provide no in-game minimap and lots of stairs, elevators and enemy attacks to traverse, meaning you'll need impeccable reaction time and either a very good memory or a lot of maps to make your way through.  Then you add on an overall unappealing presentation and you have a game that tries to do a lot of things, but ultimately doesn't do any of them well.  At least its sequel, Mafat Conspiracy, was considerably better...

66. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Heroes of the Lance (Natsume, 1991)

Another example of a game that was pretty innovative for its time on the home computer formats, but which really did not translate well to the NES.  The PC version of Heroes of the Lance was a departure from the usual D&D game formula, attempting to turn it into more of an action-oriented side scroller.  Fair enough, but when it came time to port it to the NES, Natsume seemingly went out of their way to make it as uncompelling an experience as possible.  From the tiny sprites with limited animation, the grating 30-second music loops, the cumbersome game interface (oh, I have to hold down to hurt that enemy, even though my sword is clearly clipping into their head?), the lousy hit detection and the overall short length of the game (one can complete it in less than fifteen minutes once they figure out the correct route), Heroes of the Lance lost any appeal its PC counterpart may have held.  Its two sequels held up considerably better when they got ported to the Famicom, but unfortunately neither one made it out of Japan.

65. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Atari Games, 1988)


A lackluster downport of an otherwise passable arcade game, Indiana Jones is also just a plain rotten experience.  The confusing layout of the levels (two boards each that one must swap between and which each wrap around at the edges) makes navigation much harder than it should be, and the gameplay itself a a tedious affair of rescuing children just to collect one-use weapon icons and maybe, eventually, find the key that will take you to the next board.  Also not helping matters are some wonky collision detection with platforms and some very awkward jumping - you're seemingly always being pulled toward the bottom of the screen when you jump, which means that you can't platform across horizontal pits as you'd expect to, and narrowly missing a jump to a minecart or a lower platform either results in you getting lost or falling into a lava pit and dying.  And then there's the two penultimate levels, which require you to build a makeshift bridge out of dead dragons across a lava pit (not as awesome as it sounds since there's six possible paths and only one will completely bridge the gap) and find a hidden doorway leading to the exit by bombing a very specific spot that you'll only know where to look for if you've collected all the seemingly useless map pieces from the previous stages.  Temple of Doom is an exercise in frustration, and the gaudy color palette and crummy music and sound effects don't help its case either.

64. Back to the Future (Beam Software, 1989)

Another prime example of a bad movie-to-game tie-in - take a classic film and try to shoehorn in game elements, no matter how unfitting or cumbersome they are.  To that end, Back to the Future mostly plays out like a top-down shoot-em-up, just without the shooting element (unless you collect a power-up, that is) - walk down endless streets avoiding enemies and collecting clocks to prevent yourself from fading out of existence.  The only breakup in this monotony comes on every fourth stage, in the form of one of four minigames - throwing milkshakes at swarms of bullies (made harder than it needs to be thanks to the awkward viewpoint), blocking kisses with a book (ditto), a music game that plays like Guitar Hero, only a thousand times worse, and a terminally un-fun racing segment where you try to maintain your speed while avoiding constant bombardment by lightning that destroys the pavement in front of you and slows you down.  That's bad enough, but then the whole experience is made unbearable by a grating 30-second music loop that plays from the title screen to the very end of the game...

63. The Adventures of Gilligan's Island (Human Entertainment, 1990)

I think just about everyone's heard of the TV show "Gilligan's Island", but I doubt any of them would say that it had the stuff of a decent video game adaptation.  Human Entertainment proved that notion right with the NES game, a title that attempts to provide nonlinear exploration and comedy elements and fails miserably at both.  In addition to completing repetitive missions and enduring tinny, repetitious music, you also get to endure all sorts of "wacky antics' from Gilligan as he falls down pits, off waterfalls and directly into enemies at every turn, and you have to constantly backtrack to save him because without him at your side, you can't complete most of the missions in the game.  In essence, the whole game is a giant escort mission, except instead of just giving you a game over when your charge dies, they make you go back and get them, over and over again, and every time you do he has another "hilarious" one-liner for you that you've already heard a dozen times over.  Jeez.

62. Predator (Pack-in Video, 1989)

Yes, this section of the list is really laying it on thick with the licensed titles, but can you blame me when so many of the NES' bad licensed titles make LJN's game library look positively magnificent by comparison?  At a glance Predator is just another lousy platformer game with a license pasted on, but the sheer asininity of its design earns it a badge of notoriety.  In addition to slippery physics and being able to fall through the sides of platforms (never good things in a game with lots of precision platforming), the game seemingly goes out of its way to frustrate the player into submission.  Weapon icons are seemingly always placed in the most inconvenient spots possible (placing fist weapons right before a hallway full of enemies being a commmon sight) and some levels are devoted entirely to blasting your way through bricks, one by one, with well-placed grenades.  So in addition to having to precisely place the things so you don't make the level unwinnable, you often have to get them awkwardly wedged in walls just to make sure they blow up the right brick and allow you to proceed.  Did I mention you can never blow up more than one brick at a time too?  ...Yeah.  Some solid music can't save this turkey from being a frustrating ordeal.

61. Transformers: The Headmasters (Takara, 1987 in Japan)

Just about everyone knows of the notorious Famicom Transformers game and how much of a frustrating experience it turns out to be with its awkward physics, one-hit kills and fidgety hit detection.  Well, Takara seemingly took a look at all the heat that game caught and said "You think that's bad?  You ain't seen nothing yet, baby!".  And thus was born Transformers: The Headmasters, a Famicom Disk System exclusive that took all the problems of its predecessors and magnified them tenfold.  The brunt of the game's pain comes in its driving stages, where your Transformer's brake lines have seemingly been cut and you're under constant attack by swarms of enemies, with your only means of fending them off being a shot that goes straight ahead or upward at an awkward diagonal angle that never seems to hit anything, and with mines in the road every fifty feet that you have no chance in hell of not hitting unless you slam into reverse the instant they appear onscreen.  Each of these get topped with an equally frustrating boss battle, with you having to weave between swarms of bullets (with the same unresponsive controls) whilst landing dozens of hits on a very precise magic pixel in the bosses' midsection.  Then you move on to 2D side-scrolling stages, which consist of clearing similar-looking rooms full of enemies and collecting icons to open doors, with each of these culminating in a frustrating, overly long battle that plays out like the game "Outlaws" on the Atari - ricocheting bullets around a central obstacle in the room to try and hit your opponent in the back or side.  Oh, and did I mention you have to find four other captured Transformers throughout these levels in order to move on to the final stage, and that failing to find one means you have to do that entire two-level segment again?  ..Mmyep.  The original Transformers game has nothing on this brand of awful!