Maniac Mansion (Nintendo) & 4 Other NES Games

Dr. Fred.  Nurse Edna.  Weird Ed.  These names might sound lame and dull and utterly confusing, but they were a source of fear and excitement all at the same time to me as a kid.  I discovered Maniac Mansion from the local video store down the street from my house where my neighbor and I used to rent every Nintendo game that was put on the shelves.  I kid you not it was a rainy night with only his desk lamp on as we traversed the spooky mansion in hopes of finding Sandy, Dave’s cheerleader girlfriend.  Is that….a bloody chainsaw in the kitchen?   Whoa! What is that tentacle thing?   OH MY GOD! Weird Ed is going to kill me!

This was nothing like any other game we had played before.  You didn’t move your character with the D-pad like Mario, you used a pointer to click positions on the screen where you wanted him to move.  And you couldn’t just hit B next to a treasure chest like Link and open it, you had to use the text commands on the bottom of the screen to find the loose panel with the cassette tape in it.  We found many of the alternate endings as kids, mostly the death ones, but there was one fateful night, when I started going back myself and renting (Ricky, my neighbor, had long given up on Mansion’s puzzles) and I got Bernard (my favorite character and the most useful) to fix the phone and call for help.  It was a glorious moment.  Is it cheating if I used Nintendo Power to help me?

This game, its’ puzzles, constant item checking, 7 character cast (each with their own personal soundtrack), creepy Mansion inhabitants and constantly being put in the dungeon that has stayed with me all these years.  I would check old used game stores every time I was near one to see if this hidden gem was hiding inside, waiting to be rediscovered by me but that’s one game I would never see on a shelf.  You won’t find a more challenging, (confusing, yes, at times) creepy, rock n roll adventure on even most systems today.  This, to me, is one of the greatest games ever made for Nintendo. And now, the scores:

Playability- 8.5

Graphics- 7.5

Music/Sound- 10

Replay Value- 9

Originality- 10

Final: 90%

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WWF Wrestlemania

“Whatcha gonna do brother, when Hulkamania runs wild on you?”   “Ooh yeah , dig it!” 

Like a lot of kids, me and my cousins were wrestling fanatics when we were younger, so when we discovered there was a video game featuring some of our favorite wrestlers in it, we freaked!   Turning the game on, choosing your character, hearing those classic catchy theme songs got us so pumped.  Then we played the match.  You can kick, punch, fly into your opponent and come off the top rope (which was a lot of excitement for a game like this.)  And that was it.  Pinning was eternally hard (and still is) and besides that, there’s not much else to do here.  It’s a first for it’s kind but left much room for improvement, especially when you consider it only had 6 wrestlers to choose from.

Scores:

Playability- 4.5

Graphics- 4.5

Music- 8.5

Replay Value- 4

Originality- 5.5

Final: 54%

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Mario Brothers

I first played Mario Brothers long after I had played the first 2 Super Mario Brothers, not realizing they even had a game before that.   So after coming from the creative and challenging worlds of Super Mario Brothers and the insane-ness and fun that is Super Mario Brothers 2, this was a huge letdown.  Mario Brothers (as if you don’t already know!) consists of one stage with 3 levels.  Enemies pop out of pipes at the top of the screen and slowly walk their way down to you.  You need to avoid them, and either hit the POW block at the bottom of the screen or bump them from underneath and knock out 3 enemies to advance to the next level.  It’s a very simple concept and it makes sense; it was an Arcade port.

But, even playing it now, sure it’s fun, it has a certain rhythm to it, there’s a little mix of things happening from fireballs and faster creatures, but it’s pretty monotonous gameplay and with the name Mario attached, maybe it’s unfair, but you expect a certain level of excitement and depth from that.  It’s creative, just like all arcade cabinets had to be to keep those quarters pumping, but it doesn’t port to a home system very well.

Scores:
Playability- 7

Grahpics- 3.5

Music/Sound- 3.5

Replay Value- 5.5

Originality- 7

Final: 53%

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Adventures of Tom Sawyer

This might be a classic piece of literature but as a game, this is a classic piece of monkey turds (sorry channeling AVGN).  The graphics are just butt; dimly lit, rounded caricatures of people and animals.  The controls are horrid; Tom’s jump is a joke and the enemies are way too fast to deal with in most of the levels.  There’s some fun upbeat music keeping the energy level up but overall this is a really badly designed side-scroller with Huck Finn’s pal’s name slapped on it for revenue purposes.

Scores:

Playability- 4

Graphics- 2.5

Music/Sound- 6

Replay Value- 3

Originality- 2.5

Final: 36%

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NFL Football

Like all sports franchises in video game history, football has come a long way, but I was still excited to see how exactly Nintendo first mapped this sometimes complicated game into the NFL’s official game (they were and still are stingy with their trademark).

It’s complete and utter trash.  The graphics are passable for Nintendo but the play selection and control of the players is insulting and confusing as all get out. I’m sure there is one guy out there who has a FAQ for this game, detailing exactly how to pull off every pass and conversion but I’m going to leave him and his document alone and keep moving.  I haven’t played Tecmo Bowl since I was a kid but it laughs heartily at this poor excuse of a football game.

Scores:

Playability- 2.5

Graphics- 4

Music/Sound- 2

Replay Value- 2.5

Originality- 3

Scores: 28 %

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