Video Game Review (Posted on 07-18-2016)
Looking at the pictures above, you're seeing the original copy bought during its release back in 1990, and up to this day, it still works like a charm. My dear, sweet father bought that game and its sequel together in one transaction because, that time, it was one of the low-priced games available, as compared to the other popular titles. While I thanked my father for this pick-up (I wasn't even 5 years old at that time), I went home to play it. When I first played it, I was confused but also fascinated by its difference: a video game with an actual story! Besides hot titles like Pokémon
, it's fair to say this was the very first RPG I've ever played.
In the island of CoralCola, villagers greet Mike, who's an avid baseball pitcher, and introduce themselves, one of whom includes Miss CoralCola of 1990. When you meet the island chief, he warns Mike that aliens have abducted his uncle, Steve Jones—a famous archaeologist. To save his uncle, he receives his first weapon to knock enemies out left and right: an island yo-yo. Sounds like a bizarre choice of weapon to start with, or to have, but it'll all make sense as you play through the game. When you enter the tunnel, you'll meet the Shaman, who's also the sister of the island chief, explaining that because his uncle, Dr. Jones or "Dr. J," found a secret in the ancient ruins, that discovery caused him to be kidnapped by the aliens. From then on, your adventure finally begins!
Right away, and since there's no time limit, you're testing the moves and attacks Mike can do. Immediately, you notice something about his movement of up, down, left and right. Odd isn't it? According to programmers of this game, they purposely made Mike's movement a little delayed so even when you press any part of the D-pad, Mike will readily face the direction you want without him moving; Hold the D-pad a little longer and then
Mike moves. This may frustrate a few gamers out there, but once you get used to it, you'll find that it plays a big role as you charge your way through the game. Also, you notice tiles on each room. Opening treasure chests, doors, secret passages are the purposes of jumping on these tiles, which I find to be a unique fit. As you can tell, Mike can jump on one tile at a time, so if you ever enter a room full of all tiles (there's a room later in the game featuring just that), you better move fast and find that switch to open the door and quick! Using hearts as your health gauge, along with counters tallying the number of medicine, stars and lives you have, and your weapon inventory, very much gets you all set up and ready to go. There are times when you pick up what's called "Magic Items," and to access those, you press the START button which pauses the game, press DOWN on the D-pad and there are your stock items under Magic Items. Some you need to use during the game, one during a boss fight, and some items are used while the story unfolds; In other words, there are Magic Items that you really don't end up using, but that doesn't make it useless. And while we're on weapons, some have a numeric value indicating that it's a temporary item. They may not last long, but they'll help quite a bunch!
One specific weapon you will find in the game are baseballs called "Horse Hides." That weapon is the only one that'll attack the enemy boss of that dungeon, so whatever you do, save it for the boss fight.
There are eight levels—chapters—in the game, each corresponding sequel provides mini-puzzles and enemies of increasing difficulty. Whenever you arrive at a new place, always talk to the people around as they provide clues as to where your next destination may be, what item(s) you might need and/or clues to solve a puzzle you're stuck at. Mind you, yes, your yo-yo does get an upgrade as you progress. One of them is at SheCola, where Mike has to find a psychic's lost crystal ball, turn him into a girl so he could enter SheCola—a castle only women are allowed in! In there, you'll find the head of SheCola who, according to residents, never comes out, sparking rumors that she's absolutely beautiful. I'll let you find out for yourself. Ha! Another fun adventure was when your ship gets eaten by a whale, Mike finds Dr. J's assistant by the name of Baboo, who was also swallowed up (what was he doing in there the whole time?), and wanted Mike to help him find his lighter—to build a fire, and get the whale to sneeze and cough them out and the ship. Weird, but funny! Chapter 6 is possibly a tricky chapter requiring the use of the ship's submerging ability to find Dr. J's possible location, so I advise patience with this one. Other than that, everything should be straight forward, so you can concentrate on knocking out enemies and defeating bosses to get closer to fighting the evil alien Zoda!
When you finally run into Uncle Jones, he tells you a bit of the ruins and some brief history. In fact, even though he's doing fine, it's the three cubes you need to acquire and save! "After all that work for nothing?" Not really, because to save those cubes, you finally get to board the alien spaceship, before they fly off with the magic cubes, according to Dr. J! Continuing on, you finally fight enemies on the spaceship, getting closer to the evil Zoda. In fact, Zoda has two forms: one where you attack his face, while trying to capture you with his hands, and the second is his final form as an alien. Defeat his second form, and you get the last and final cube before the spaceship explodes!
The first cube you save upgrades your weapon into a Super Nova; The second cube gives you a full 22 hearts; The third cube doesn't do anything but you need to obtain it anyway. When the cubes are stacked together, you have saved an entire population—the Argonians, a nation led by Hirocon, consisting of 7 boys and girls being the last people from the planet Argonia. You learn that their planet was destroyed 20 years ago, placed in the time-frozen cubes and thrown here on planet Earth. Hirocon tells the kids to just enjoy their time on Earth and happily get along with the beings in this planet. How nice. The game ends with credits, including some amazing 8-bit illustrations and a fantastic soundtrack.
The challenge, the story, the music and the pace is just perfect for an RPG. Granted, critics call this game a "Zelda rip-off," and while I agree, it doesn't mean it's a terrible game. Yeah I know, it uses hearts as health, and in the beginning, the game can store 3 files to save your progress or to erase an old file to play it again, just like Zelda in fact. However, being so underrated, this game generated an awesome fan base; I, myself, am a huge fan. Another thing I kind of hoped about this game was to have a Game Boy port for it.
A lot of NES fans/gamers continually demand titles that are good and underrated. I recommend this one, especially if you're an RPG fan. Third-party sellers are selling this game for cheap, but after this review, watch the prices grow when the demand increases. Such an excellent game to have and to play.
And finally, a big thanks to my father for getting this game for me as a kid. Props, Dad.
(Note: listen to our episode review from season one of our official podcast series PODSOTROS! here!
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© 2008-2019 written and reviewed personally by Kris Caballero.
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