Videogames – Quick Reviews

In Alphabetical Order

1942 (NES, 1986) This vertically scrolling shooter from CAPCOM is a port of the arcade game by the same name in which you fly a WWII fighter plane through waves of enemy planes. It’s a top down view 2D game though some 3D movements are simulated. This NES port has levels similar to the original but the port has a slower game speed, thus its levels are more survivable. 1942 always feels consistently structured, even when new enemy plane types are introduced. Before long you will smoothly dodge and effortlessly destroy your enemies. However, the game flow is not infallible. Shots fired at you and some enemy planes are difficult to see when flying over land. There are not many types of power-ups, but they hold enough interest and value to risk a plane/life going after them. The ability to “continue” gameplay after death is unlimited (no quarters required) and allows you to get further in the game without having to start again from the first level. Complete the game because you enjoy it, not to view the ending screen. Or you will be disappointed. Smooth, often seamless, arcade shooter. Rating: 778 [Posted 12/1/19]

Midnight Magic (Atari 2600, 1986) In this pinball videogame from Atari you have 5 plays/balls and 4 flippers. Moving the joystick to the side operates the flippers on each corresponding side and pulling the joystick back uses all 4 flippers simultaneously. This is a sharp looking table with plenty of features to interact with. And the 4 flippers keep you busy. Once you knock out all the color tiles at the top of the board, the table turns blue and gives you a x2 multiplier. This was my favorite effect and gave me something to shoot for in subsequent plays. Surprisingly addictive classy pinball action. Rating: 685 [Posted 12/15/19]

Oink! (Atari 2600, 1983) In this game from Activision, you take control of each of three pigs in order to defend your homes against the powerful breath of the wolf. The wolf will blow away pieces of the house until he has a clear shot, then will attempt to use his breath to suck you in to him. You spend your time frantically rebuilding the house to block the wolf from sucking you in. There is no way to win, per se. You are delaying your doom long enough to rack up a high score. The characters in this drama are big and chunky which makes them pretty darn cute. The action is solid and there is a bit of strategy involved but the game gets repetitive, even tiring before long. Thankfully the game pauses on its own after the destruction of the straw (yellow) and wood (brown) houses, giving you a chance to rest. Adorable frantic action that gets old fast. Rating: 455 [Posted 12/7/19]

River Raid (Atari 2600, 1982) Vertically scrolling shooter from Activision. You control a jet shooting down or avoiding enemies. Oddly, you can’t fly over land, so you will crash if you hit the river bank. This game has some interesting features like the ability to accelerate/decelerate, the regular need for fuel and opposing jets flashing across the screen. Without these features the game would be dull but with them it’s difficult to gain any momentum. Prepare to be blown to bits often. Rating: 546 [Posted 1/6/20]

Vulgus (Arcade, 1984) In this vertically scrolling shooter from CAPCOM, you are being chased relentlessly. Even though some enemies will begin with a predictable pattern, their next moves will be determined by your own. This means you are never really comfortable and although the controls are velvety you may find yourself moving frenetically to avoid enemies. You will operate a twin shooter with unlimited fire that also has missiles that can cut through multiple ships. There are power-ups but don’t try too hard to grab them. Ships/lives are very important since there are no “continues.” You can easily be surprised by enemy ships coming on screen from the top and sides. So you may want to stay towards the bottom center when able. The graphics are attractive with a nice variety of landscapes and enemy types, but nothing too ambitious. Clean arcade twin shooter in which you are the prey. Rating: 652 [Posted 12/4/19; reviewed using Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1 (PS2)]

I Can’t Carry Anymore!

Unknown

Encumbrance, in role playing games, means how much you can carry. This is usually determined by the total weight of the items you are carrying. A common definition of encumbrance is “a burden” and for most tabletop role playing game enthusiasts, it’s an apt definition in more ways than one. So, it’s often ignored. I mean, who wants to limit how much of the dragon’s treasure you will bring back to your own den? In role playing videogames, it often can’t be ignored because it’s an integral part of the game. Champions of Norrath (2004) attempts to give players the best of both worlds, a limiting factor for realism and an unrealistic way to horde your winnings.

Champions of Norrath is an action oriented role playing videogame. The action comes from hitting and shooting things while the role playing comes, in part, from collecting gear to improve your character’s performance. Often when I compel my warrior, Morg, to pick up something, he will bleat, “I can’t carry anymore!” In which case, I transport Morg to the store and lighten his load in exchange for gold coins. In this game although weapons, armor and other equipment have weight, gold coins do not. This is a treat since Morg is currently holding 1,114,064 gold coins. But it’s also a bit silly.

Grade 6 Content (6.NS.B.2)

Investigate

Q1:  If 1 gold coin weighs 1 ounce, what is the weight of the gold Morg is carrying in pounds?

Q2:  If a car weighs 3,000 pounds, about how many cars would it take to equal the weight of the gold Morg is carrying?

Key

If 1 gold coin weighs 1 ounce, then the weight of 1,114,064 gold coins is 1,114,064 ounces.  There are 16 ounces in a pound so,

1,114,064 ounces / 16 ounces per pound = 69,629 pounds, the number of pounds in gold coins that Morg is carrying.

If a car weighs 3,000 pounds then Morg is carrying,

69,629 pounds / 3,000 pounds per car = the weight of more than 23 cars in gold coins.

That’s one way to bury the local cutpurse.

Videogames – Ultimate Spider-Man

UltimateSpiderMan_PS2_BOX-US

The first real challenge in Ultimate Spider-Man (PS2, 2005) is when you, as Spider-Man, have to race Johnny Storm a.k.a. the Human Torch around New York City.  There is no question that Spidey is as fast as snot but there’s no way he could outpace Hothead in a race like this.  On the other hand, it’s ridiculous for me to expect realism from a videogame about a comic book.

As I struggled to complete this challenge, I started to wonder if this is a race against the Torch or just a race against time.  I can’t bump or impede the Torch in any way (as you might in racing games like Mario Kart) so, it makes sense to me that it’s simply a time challenge and as long as I get to the finish line before the time runs out, I will win.  But perhaps, the time is adjusted based on your skill or how fast you start.  Does the Torch have a constant rate of speed?  Or does it even matter what the Torch does in this challenge?