Hello, and welcome to Final Fantasy Answers. What question do you have today?

Since I am bound to my house due to my leg, I figured I’d take advantage of my time cooped up and return to some nostalgic gaming. This is the Nostalgia Corner, part 3.

I want to take some time to explore some Nintendo classics, though. And return to some fond memories of my childhood growing up with this video gaming behemoth. So let’s view the classics while I pop another vicodin.

Now again. These reviews are not about whether or not I judge this game as good or not, but if they’re still fun by today’s gaming standards. I must remind everyone that I actually do like many of these games.

Also, for this review, I’m going to shy away from games that got remakes, like Super Mario 64, or Ocarina of Time. There is no point in analyzing if a game stands up by today’s standards if an updated version of said game already exists. You might as well just play that one.

Mike Tyson’s Punch Out:

A Nintendo classic, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out is a boxing game for the NES in which you play as Little Mac, an up and coming boxer who fights his way up through the ranks in the boxing leagues and eventually must square off against real life boxing champion Mike Tyson.

This game is the ultimate test of skill, observation, and reflex, and it’s actually surprising it’s held up this well, considering it’s about 30 years old. It is also EXTREMELY FUCKING HARD.

It’s a simple game, admittedly, but it’s not held back by any major flaws. It’s pretty easy to figure out the controls, although the game itself is as hard as real boxing would be.

You have a left punch, and you have a right punch. You strafe by hitting left or right on the D-Pad. You press up to aim high, and press nothing on the control pad to make a gut shot.

Enemies have a decent challenge to them, blocking high and blocking low. If their arms are at their torso, you punch them in the face. If they guard their head, you hit them in the gut. They have several normal punches, just like a real boxer, but each one has their own supermove indicated by their body flashing just before they execute the move.

Fights typically more or less work like a real boxing match. You have to knock down your opponent’s stamina while dodging their attacks so they don’t knock you out. You may be thinking this is easy, but the AI’s not exactly the friendliest and some boxers can only be knocked out with certain moves, which the game makes you figure out on your own. You also have an issue with your own stamina. If you persist in comboing for too long, the player character becomes exhausted, and thus vulnerable to attacks. While also being unable to attack during this.

That’s about all there is to say about the gameplay. It’s a little bit easy to figure out, not so much when it comes to mastering it. Be prepared to spend hours grinding your skill before you’ll even be able to get past the third boxer. This game is pretty simple, but it’s infamous for it’s intense challenge and reliance on reflex and observation.

But that’s not what you want to hear, is it? You want to know what Iron Mike is like, don’t you? Well, unfortunately I have never gotten to Mike Tyson, so I’ll leave this portion of the review to a friend of mine who has gone toe to toe with the champ. The following few paragraphs are not by me.

There was a time in the 80’s when Nintendo wasn’t the child friendly fluff company they are today that made games where you could best a boss playing with your toes. Mike Tyson is the epitome of that former age.

You know those superbosses you fight as an added bonus that are ungodly hard to beat? Zack tells me that the hooded asshole from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep comes to mind. Perfect comparison. Those bosses that have unfair attacks, enormous health, and erratic or just straight up “Fuck you, I’m too fast for you” attack patterns? Awfully annoying, aren’t they?

Mike Tyson is exactly this. Only difference is he is not optional. Picture if you will, at the end of your hard journey, and I do mean hard, when it comes to this game, you’ve just bested normal enemies that in any other game would be boss fight worthy in difficulty, only to come up against the greatest ass kicker that ever lived. This game provides a perfect portrayal of Tyson in the sense that you’ve probably got as much chance beating the actual Mike Tyson in a boxing match as you do beating his 8-bit counterpart.

Tyson starts off the fight with a barrage of punches that, not joking, are all instant knockouts. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. This unholy unleash of death by fist lasts for a minute and thirty seconds. And let’s just remember in boxing, getting knocked out 3 times in a row is a TKO. Same applies here. So you can only afford to be hit by two of these. This is even deadlier in the fact that Tyson is not only the strongest fighter in the game, he is also the fastest with little time present between when his sprite flashes to telegraph his move and when he unleashes the hit, meaning your reflexes better be on overdrive here. And don’t even try to punch Tyson at this stage, unless you want to see Little Mac fly out of the ring.

If you have God smiling upon you and blessing you at the present moment, you may survive this. However, this is about as far as most gamers can get. I know people who are otherwise great at this game never make it through this part. Anyway, after this, Tyson takes up a normal attack pattern, resorting to typical blows like any other boxer. However, while his instant death punches are removed, he retains his incredible speed, meaning he can easily reduce your hopes to dust with one well executed combo. You can handle him like any other boxer, but don’t forget, he may occasionally still throw out one of those instant knock out punches he was using earlier.

To this day, Mike Tyson is renowned for being one of the most brutally challenging bosses in gaming history, and many arrogant, hopeful gamers have suffered the mighty asswhooping that comes with foolishly thinking they can take this God of Boxing on, or assuming any talk about his difficulty is an immense exaggeration. Let me assure you, this is not the case. I myself have only beaten Tyson once. I have never been able to do it since. Consider yourself as skilled gamer if you can even put him to the mat once.

Alright, it’s me again, guys. So, are there any criticisms to this game? Well, there’s a few. While the gameplay is solid, the game is hindered by the fact that it is, indeed an NES title. While it probably has the best graphics I’ve seen in an NES game, with impressively detailed boxers, the aged appearance of the game may be a turnoff to most people. However, I do credit the level of quality in the sprites, and Mike Tyson’s sprite actually looks like him. Gap in the teeth included.

Another problem is the fact that this game has its share of good old fashioned 1980’s racism. Most of the boxers are pretty much stereotypes of people from various countries. Such as the French boxer being the wimpiest fighter in the game, or the African boxer having a turban and a skinned tiger for a coat. I even heard talk there was a boxer removed from the game that was from Italy. His name was Pizza Pasta. And there is also a bit of censoring in that the Russian boxer was originally named Vodka Drunkinski and his character quirk was he was constantly chugging a bottle of vodka. This was changed and he is now referred to as Soda Popinski.

When this game is not more or less giving Political Correctness the finger, some of the boxers come off as creative and pretty amusing. One such character being King Hippo, an overweight boxer who is defeated by causing his pants to fall down and then beating him up when he’s trying to pull them back up.

Another complaint I will say is this game is from an age where games were pretty much merciless and gave you no room for comfortable training. This is…well, it’s not so much a flaw, but in this day and age, gamers are usually offered tutorial sections so they can learn the game in a friendly environment. Not thrown into a boxing match right at the start and said “You don’t know the controls? Well fuck you then!” This might annoy or scare off gamers of this generation.

The final problem is that copies of the game that actually have Mike Tyson in them are actually rare. See, the game continued production well after Mike Tyson’s contract with Nintendo expired. Since he had handed down his championship before then, Nintendo didn’t renew the contract. Tyson is instead replaced with an edited sprite named Mr. Dream. The problem with this is what sounds more fun? Fighting a generic boxer as the final match, or an actual real life champion. That and the intense difficulty is better justified with Tyson because the guy was a complete shitwrecker in the ring, in real life.
Still, it is an amazing game, and one I always enjoy returning to. I hope you give it a try.

F-Zero X:

Hipster Locke

No, I couldn't resist, why do you ask?

Alright, so I'm not going to make a habit of stealing Mateus' jokes. I am however, going to tell you about this awesome game I grew up with. 

One of the things few people know about me is that I'm actually quite an F-Zero junkie. Normally I avoid racing games like the plague, but between this game and Mario Kart, Nintendo knows racing.

What's different about F-Zero? When they say high speed racing in this game? They goddamn mean it. I actually can't believe the N64 could produce speeds like this. Couple that in with amazing rock music , you've got an adrenaline junky's wet dream.

Despite being an N64 game, the controls surprisingly have lasted. You honestly feel like you're commandeering a machine that is ripping through the sound barrier. 

But what IS F-Zero, exactly? It's a Sci-Fi racing game where you and 29 other racers fight to dominate the tracks in 3 blood pumping race tournaments. You pilot a race car capable of speeds of up to 1,000 KM/h and ram through the competition in several amazing, and sometimes deadly tracks.

This is a very brutal sport, where any one of the 29 opponents you face may ram you off the track. This gets exceptionally deadly when the tracks decide to become very narrow, forcing all the racers into a high speed mosh pit. You do have a health bar, and it is possible to have your vehicle destroyed. And we're not talking any do overs here. There's no lakitu to save your ass from the pits in these tracks. You bust up your ride, you're done. You're out of the race. So while you rip through the courses, you also need to exert caution.

What this creates is a dangerous sport where any second now, the speed of the race and your opponents may suddenly turn your supersonic thrill ride into a sudden stop. Now granted, there's no weapons in this race. With 30 racers, that might have been overdoing it a little. We'd be seeing the race turn into a scene from Star Wars.

So we have speed, we have danger, we have awesome vehicles. Is there anything wrong with this game? Well, there's a little issue, yes. See, this game is all about speed. But the drawback here? You may on occasion be going too fast. At any point, the track may suddenly decide to abandon the safety rails and send your car flying off the track. This isn't challenging, this is just frustrating. The human brain can only have so little time to percieve something ahead of it. So you'll find yourself raging because you just flung yourself into a game over.

Another problem is the fact that the graphics tend to drop out. At distances, the textures dip in quality. This is a pretty annoying problem. It's not really a gameplay issue, but it can bother your eyes.

The final problem? The game's only about 30 minutes long. If you're expecting a game you can have some hardcore racing in, this is...not it.

Aside from that, a good game, lots of speed, lots of fun. Hope you try it.

Metroid Prime:

Metroid Prime came out on the Gamecube in 2002, and holy fuck, was it good. I’m not kidding, guys. While I confess to the fact that I prefer the Legend of Zelda to Metroid, I will officially go on record as saying this is without a doubt, my absolute favorite Nintendo game. That is saying quite a bit, as I have played an enormous amount of Nintendo games. Heck, it might even be one of my all time favorite video games period. I played the fuck out of this game when it came out.

The ironic thing is before I played this game, I knew very little about Metroid. Hell, until Smash Bros. came out, I’d never even heard of it. But I was intrigued by Samus, and I wanted to know more. So a friend at the local game store suggested I try out Metroid Prime. I did. It was love at first sight. I couldn’t get enough of this game. I played it until my fingers were sore, I adored it so much. Just everything at the time this game came out, was done to perfection. I’d never played a game this well put together. And I was hooked.

You think that’s bad, you should have seen my reaction to figuring it out that Samus is a woman. See…that still wasn’t a big news thing. The internet was still pretty new, I myself never used it, Samus didn’t have a voice in Smash Bros. Melee…But when I heard that female voice and finally realized it, I was immediately transformed into the drooling Samus fanboy that sits wheelchair bound here today.

Okay, so enough of that, let’s get to what the game is. Metroid Prime is the first game in the series to be entirely in first person. Which, due to the fact that Metroid had always been a sidescrolling platformer series, left a lot of people worried about the fact the game was jumping to an entirely different gameplay style. But holy shit, did this game nail it right off the bat. The controls in this game are perfectly convenient. The D-pad is used to switch visor modes, while the C-Stick switches the mode of Samus’ gun. Missiles got their own button, and the gun was right in the perfect spot on the controller. The A Button, which would usually be located right where the player’s thumb rested on the controller. This game took full advantage of the gamecube controller’s abilities.

As for the story, the game is really interesting with it. The plot is that Prime takes place after the original Metroid game. Samus investigates a derelict Space Pirate ship after receiving a distress beacon, only to find the ship has been almost entirely destroyed. After fighting through the ship, which has been ravaged by monsters that escaped confinement, Samus finds her nemesis Ridley. Ridley has been reborn from his death in the original game through cybernetic implants. The large creature escapes the ship as it begins to self destruct, and Samus gives chase onto a nearby planet. Although she loses track of Ridley, Samus finds a rather unusual sight about this planet. The local colony of Chozo has mysteriously vanished, and a strange substance seems to be warping the planet, mutating the flora and fauna of the world into twisted abominations.

During her search for Ridley on the world, Samus also comes to find there is a strange creature called Metroid Prime that has been trapped deep inside the planet by the Chozo, and with it, a substance called Phazon, which is responsible for the corruption of the planet. Samus decides to do what she does best, killing eldritch abominations, and searches for a way into the underground of the world to destroy Metroid Prime and stop the phazon’s destruction of the planet.

What is particularly interesting about Metroid Prime’s story is that fact that none of it is told in a standard narrative. There is no dialogue in the game whatsoever, and the cutscenes are few and serve more to show a cinematic between transitions to areas rather than tell the story. So if that’s the case, how do you figure out the plot? Well, this is probably the thing I loved most about the game. In order to find out the story, you must make use of a scanner Samus has, that allows her to find out the events prior to her arrival through Chozo Hieroglyphics and Space Pirate data logs. These tell the events of the Phazon corruption through the Hieroglyphics, while the Space Pirate logs detail the power of Phazon mutation as the pirates use it to increase their military strength, as well as deliver some information about the main antagonist of the game, and what the Space Pirates learned about it from their own studies and encounters with the beast.

This is interesting in that immerses you better with Samus. She has to figure out the mystery of the planet on her own, and that requires effort from the player to look for the facts. There’s nobody to shoehorn in forced exposition, there’s no massive text crawl to explain everything, it’s the player’s own investigating that leads them to piece together the mystery.

The scan visor also sees another use in that the player can use it to scan creatures. Instead of giving the player obvious weak points (Although some creatures do still fall under this issue) it’s through the player’s own study with the scan visor that they themselves find what the proper method for defeating a monster is. It’s not rammed down your throat, you find it on your own accord. This becomes especially clear with boss fights, which have some of the most obscure weaknesses I have ever seen. There is one boss whose weakness is actually invisible, and only appears through the use of a thermal visor upgrade.

The exploration from the original titles is still intact, and you’ll spend hours looking around for the next best way to get around. Unlike past Metroid games, though, there is a hint system that pops up if the player seems to be lost that shows you where to go next. However, if you don’t like this, there is the ability to turn it off. The hint system also does appear when the player loads the game back up, as a friendly reminder of what you’re supposed to be doing in case you forgot. Which is an issue in a lot of these explore and backtrack games, like the original Metroids, or the Castlevania and Resident Evil games. If people leave a game for a while where the objective isn’t always clear, chances are, when they come back, they’re going to have completely forgotten what they’re supposed to do at that particular point in time and get lost. This game however, will remind you of your objective. But it only does it once, and right when you load your save back up.

Although probably my favorite thing about this game on an artistic note is the feeling of utter loneliness one feels when they walk through the destroyed Chozo Ruins, or singlehandedly combat through the Space Pirate base. With no immediate friends in the area, and you having to rely solely on your own skills to get by, you really get the idea of just what a lonely person Samus is. Every Nintendo character has had some kind of an ally. Link usually gets a traveling partner or friends back in towns, Mario has Luigi at his side, Pit has Palutena, the trainers have their pokemon...Heck, even in Non-Nintendo titles like Shadow of the Colossus, where there was also a theme of loneliness, you at least had a horse. Samus has nobody in this game. And you really get the major idea behind her character. That she’s completely on her own in her work, without any friends to watch her back. And that she’s always been like that. We didn’t get any droning on about that lifeless monotone “I have always been alone. At this point, I was just used to it, I guess” crap that Other M gave us with some of the worst, most forced narrative I’d ever seen. But we’ll talk about Other M in a different blog. What I’m saying is I like the subtlety this game uses with what it wants to tell you about itself.

Now, is there a fault to this game? There’s a few. For one thing, while the shooting and movement controls are pretty good, the camera control is stupid. When you want to look around, you have to stop, hold the R button, and use the control stick to look around. And the flaw here is that not only does this rob you of your ability to move, but the camera turns at a rather sluggish rate sometimes. Not to mention camera control is best left to the alternate joystick on a control, which unfortunately was used to switch weapons with.

Another major flaw is the fact that this game uses that tired, dated save point system. This is made even more frustrating due to the fact that the map is large, and save points are few and far between. When you want to save, you have to completely backtrack to where a save point is, and then use it. This wasn’t such a problem back in its day, and it’s a staple of the Metroid games, but with the new idea behind autosaving, and the fact that other games boast an ability to save whenever you felt like it, this is a little frustrating to newer gamers.

Yet another thing that most people might find annoying with the game is that while the story is probably one of the darkest in a Nintendo game, and really well thought out, not a lot of people like the idea that you have to investigate the plot yourself. It’s often very hard to find Chozo Hieroglyphics or space pirate logs, and you could end up missing something that informed you about the plot. I personally don’t mind it, you probably won’t either, but it is there and some people might find it a problem.

And of course, the last major flaw in the game. Nintendo had this bad flaw back in the early 2000’s of forcing you to backtrack at the last part of the game. To get to Metroid Prime, you have to find the Chozo Artifacts that are key to opening the seal so you can enter the underground tunnel it’s trapped in. I forgot how many of these there are, but it’s at least 10, they’re scattered all over the place in areas you’ve already been too, and it’s just annoying looking for these goddamn things. It can take up to a few hours to find them, depending on how well you read the hints.

Also, it’s a Metroid game, so there is the series issue of a shitload of backtracking. Which isn’t a problem if you’re a fan, but not everyone is. 

Metroid Prime is not a perfect game in this day and age, but I stand by what I said. It is my favorite Nintendo title. It brought a lot of new ideas to the series, while still boasting a touch of familiarity for its fanbase. It’s a game I thoroughly enjoy, although I will admit that some of its ideas have become dated, and will probably annoy a new gamer. However, it is by no means poorly aged, and I still find hours of fun with it.

Star Fox:

Ah, Star Fox. Nintendo’s crowning achievement. The use of 3D graphics on an SNES title. And back in 1993, no less. That’s impressive. This game looked amazing in it’s time, it was the only game like it, using third person flight controls with the camera centered behind you. There was nothing else at the time like this game, and it definitely acquired the attention it deserved for this achievement…

…But my god. This game is awful. Yeah, had you going there, didn’t I, thinking I was going to give all Nintendo games a shining review. Nope.

Now I will give it this…It’s the game that wrote 3D third person style gameplay, especially flight combat. We have this game to thank for countless fun, epic flight simulators that came to be. And at the time, this was a turning point for technology.

But this game is…garbage when you compare it to anything these days. Including other Star Fox games.
Go ahead and rage, fanboys, it’s not going to change my opinion. Although I will admit, just to clear up, I do like Star Fox games. I love Star Fox 64, I like Assault. Adventures…least it gave us Krystal?
But this game is seriously dated. SERIOUSLY. DATED.

Let’s talk about the graphics, first. They hurt my eyes. Sure, I don’t usually care about graphics in a video game, but most other games on the SNES and even the NES are easier to look at than this. Everything is just a monotone polygon snapped together into the vague shape of a ship or building. The colors are stale, with the overuse of grey being a big theme. Because Gray is such a lively color, isn’t it? This game looks like it was made in MS Paint. Sure, the graphics were great for their time, key phrase being “for their time”. But if you looked at Star Fox today, you could not say those are impressive graphics with a straight face.

Another issue I have is that they used the same shades of colors for EVERYTHING. Meaning if a grey ship flies in front of a grey building, you are not going to be able to see it. And for this reason, it is very difficult to make anything out in this game.

Now, how do the controls work? Well, the controls are probably the decent part of the game. While they’re by no means great, they’re not terrible. They’re easy to figure out, they’re easy to remember, they’re just kind of sluggish. Fox’s ship doesn’t move at more than a snail’s crawl along the screen, making avoid obstacles a pain because you sometimes can’t get out of the way fast enough. There’s no way to control your speed either, making this even more frustrating.

But probably the worst part is the shooting controls. Why is the shooting button the fucking Y button? That is the worst frickin’ spot to put a shooting button. It’s almost at the top of the damn controller. Nowadays, the shooting button is a top mounted trigger or the bottom-most button on the controller, somewhere that’s pretty easy to remember. Not the freaking Y button.

Although it’s not so much the location of the shooting control as the shooting in general. It’s slow, you have no crosshair so you can’t tell if you’re aiming in the right spot, sometimes it doesn’t even look like the enemies are taking damage. So all around frustrating. My first time through the first level, I don’t think I hit a single enemy.

Although what really gets on my nerves is the music. While I admit that the compositions themselves are pretty nice, this is some of the most synthetic music I’ve ever heard. And remember, I’ve played NES games. I get that they tried to make the music sound epic and more hardcore and loud, but you can just tell how unreal the instruments seem. It’s pretty obvious these were all done on a computer.
Now, I get that synthesizing music was about all you could do at this time, but in other games that came out around then, the music didn’t sound so unnatural. Sure, you could tell it was computer processed, but it was at least still pleasant to listen to. And at times, they came pretty close to sounding like actual instruments.

But it’s really hard to describe sound. Just go look up the soundtrack; you’ll see what I’m getting at.
Is there anything redeeming about Star Fox? Not…really. While it does have some good qualities, they’re pretty standard for flight simulators these days, and done to a significantly better scale in the N64 sequel.

All in all, I can’t really recommend this game. It really shows it’s age, and while I admit it was a great game back in the 90’s, it’s not that good nowadays. It’s just a worn out relic of a former age. But to be fair, it did leave a pretty good legacy. It was succeeded by one of the best games on the N64, and it’s built up a pretty big fan community. But the original game itself is not worth playing.

Request a Nintendo game in the comments. I'll see about trying it out for this blog. Love you all.

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