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Old 03-20-2007, 10:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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View Stats
Level: 63
Points: 111,263, Level: 63 Points: 111,263, Level: 63 Points: 111,263, Level: 63
Level up: 3%
Level up: 3%, 18,787 Points needed Level up: 3% Level up: 3%
Activity: 0%
Activity: 0% Activity: 0% Activity: 0%
 

   
What you're missing on the NES

AD&D - Pool of Radiance

What does Pool of Radiance offer that no other game can? Pool of Radiance is an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game and has inherited some of its traits. However, PoR sets itself apart in many distinct ways. First, this is a Strategy/RPG. Yeah, Pool of Radiance is one of the father's of the genre.

The game itself is non-linear to an extent. You create characters and are thrown into the City of New Pahln, which has an issue with monsters right now. You become the mercenary for the city, completing tasks (such as clearing monsters out of areas, rescuing people, etc...) for large amount of cash, jewels and experience. You may complete these tasks in any order that you chose, in fact, you can ignore them and just head to the end of the game if you so choose. However, you'll need the experience, equipment and money to get up to the battle with the Final Encounter with the evil reincarnate, Tyranthraxus. There are over a dozen missions to complete, most can be completed in many different ways (such as simply bribing an enemy or fighting their entire army).

The AD&D influence is mostly found in the spells and attributes system. You characters only have about 7 or 8 levels, depending on their class. As you increase in levels your THAC0 decreases along with your AC. You gain HP, but your relative strength, dexterity, etc stay the same. There are no Magic Points (MP). Instead you memorize spell ''charges''. You can memorize spells any place you can rest. Clerics get their spells automatically, Magic Users must learn them through spell books or at level ups. There are three spell levels, each of which have about a dozen unique spells, ranging from restoring HP, to shielding characters to decimating the entire battlefield with a fireball. The magic system works very well and offers much in the way of strategy.

A lot of strategy goes into developing your party. You are given a list of about 20 character types, each have different abilities. You can have a maximum of 10 characters created at any given time (only 5 may actually be in your party though). The way you create and use your characters will effect you later in battle. When you encounter an army of 15 undead and you have an evil Cleric that cannot use the ''Undead'' command, you will have a problem. Creating a Magic user with 18 dexterity and 4 intelligence will doom you later on. It takes some time to understand and get your party right. Don't worry though, you can kill your characters and throw their body into the river or something. Its a do-anything world after all!

You basically create who your characters are. You create their personalities. For example, fighting a difficult battle, your Cleric Reea may die. Then your fighter Viator kills himself in his sadness. Well, that's not the best example, but you get the idea.

The game is presented in a 1st-person navigation mode with encounters on a 2D battlefield. There is music, some of which is catchy (and some of which is not). The graphics are about as decent as the NES's power permits.

The major emphasis in Pool of Radiance is role-playing and realism within a fantasy world. You can get mugged in bars and get into bar fights. You can start slaughtering the people of New Pahln, hire people to fight with you...you can do just about anything you want.

The game is very open-ended. It is designed for those that want to use large amounts of strategy to defeat their enemies, both on and off the battle field. Pool of Radiance is for those that want to spend countless hours slaughtering Lizardmen, Boars, and the many enemies in the Forgotten Realms.
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Old 03-25-2007, 08:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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View Stats
Level: 63
Points: 111,263, Level: 63 Points: 111,263, Level: 63 Points: 111,263, Level: 63
Level up: 3%
Level up: 3%, 18,787 Points needed Level up: 3% Level up: 3%
Activity: 0%
Activity: 0% Activity: 0% Activity: 0%
 

   
What you're missing on the NES

The Adventures of Rad Gravity

Okay, so the plot is pure pulp clich? (the manual even tells it in comic book form, which is a very nice touch, if you can find a copy of the game that still has the manual nowadays), but the game itself is superb. I honestly don't know why this game is not so well known. This game is superficially nothing that hasn't been seen before- Rad runs jumps and shoots his way through several platform filled levels in the same way as so many NES characters before him. However, not that many have pulled the game off with such style and flair. There is a great deal of variety in the levels - one level sees you downloaded into a computer (during which Rad is presented in a cool photo-negative style graphic) in order to shut down security beams. Other levels see you chasing a group of thieves who have stolen your computer and have escaped across a junkyard planet in an ice cream truck (I kid ye not), facing Dinosaurs on the planet Saurius, a standout level that sees you travel through a asteroid belt in your space suit, a level that sees you play upside down until you fix the gravity generator for that particular planet.... Nearly every level has a quirky feature that makes you feel that this game is something special. And it's not just the level design that feels special in this game, there are lots of nice little touches in the other departments of the game - one of the best being that in true comic book style, you can get out of the way of the robots' laser fire (for some reason this game gives me an urge to refer to them as death rays....) only to watch the shot meant for you destroy the robot behind you. It may not sound like a big thing now, but at the time the fact that the bad guys could kill each other as well as you seemed like a really big deal to me.

Along the way Rad can find many pickups that will help him on his quest. These include extra energy bars (reminiscent of Zelda), more powerful armour, and better weapons. Rad starts out with only one energy bar (which can take three hits) and what appears to be a lightsaber-style weapon. By the end of the game, however, he will have stacks of energy and some really powerful weapons. Again, this really is nothing new, but somehow it seems very innovative in this game. And what's great about it is how well hidden some of these items are - early examples include the energy bar that, while plainly visible, is sitting just waiting to be collected in the middle of a ball of fire. If your health is low by the time you reach this point then you may well have to kiss this extra energy bar goodbye.

The game is well catered for in the Graphics and Sound departments too. The inter-level sections that feature Rad on his ship are very impressive, and the levels are bright and colourful when they need to be, and dark 'n' moody in all the right places. In a game set across such a variety of locations, it is quite a feat that each planet has it's own distinct graphical look. Rad's movement seems a little choppy at times, and there is some major slowdown when things get busy, but this is only a real problem if you haven't played NES games for years. Those of you who still put the big grey carts into the machines on a regular basis will still notice these problems, but will more than likely forgive them, as they are so common throughout the NES library of games. There are several graphical moments in this game that make you feel that the developers have really put some effort in, too. In addition to small things such as the aforementioned Ice Cream truck, details such as the fact that the Rad sprite actually looks different when wearing different armour stands out, even though it amounts to little more than a change of colour. While the sound effects are nothing above the standard NES action game fare (you've heard the gunfire sounds a hundred other times before), the music is very good (the awful title screen tune aside), and suits the comic book tone of the game very well. While not many of the tunes will have you whistling or humming along even when you aren't playing the game, they still stand out as some of the better tunes on the NES. However, in the interplanetary sections, when Rad is hanging in his spaceship, the sound goes a bit... odd. I'm not entirely sure whether it's supposed to be music or sound effects - it's just occasional clanging noises. Very bizarre.

At the end of the day, Rad Gravity is just another in a long line of games of this genre on the NES, and as such people that feel that their collection is already over saturated by either platformers or shooters may not want to take a look at Rad Gravity, but if you feel that you need another game in this style then you really should take Rad for a spin - this is a game that is full of great little touches, variety, above average presentation, and most of all it is great fun, and hey, isn't that the most important thing? It doesn't redefine the genre by any means, but it does put a lot of it's competitors to shame.

A true classic of the NES era.
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Old 04-08-2007, 09:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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View Stats
Level: 63
Points: 111,263, Level: 63 Points: 111,263, Level: 63 Points: 111,263, Level: 63
Level up: 3%
Level up: 3%, 18,787 Points needed Level up: 3% Level up: 3%
Activity: 0%
Activity: 0% Activity: 0% Activity: 0%
 

   
What you're missing on the NES

Bad News Baseball

Welcome to Bad News Baseball, it has absolutely nothing to do with the Bad News Bears movie. This almost seems a sort of travesty, as a baseball video game based solely on the Chico’s Bail Bondsmen baseball team would be utterly hilarious. However, despite lacking any similar points with the movie outside of character age and title similarities, Bad News Baseball still manages to provide decent baseball action, and a few tweaks not often seen in other games of the same generation.

Bad News Baseball does use the same *age* characters as the movie; you control a team of little leaguers. The teams come from various cities around the United States, like Boston, San Francisco, and of course, New York. Each player has season statistics, individual abilities, and usually a comical appearance. You coach your team through a single elimination round robin type tournament, where you must defeat every other team. That’s the extent of the modes however; don’t expect a full season mode like in Bases Loaded, and you can throw stat tracking right out the window unless you have a desire to scribe yourself.

The actual gameplay of Bad News Baseball is what separates it from the large pack of mediocre baseball games. All the traditional aspects that you would expect from a baseball game are here. It has the standard batter-pitcher interface: the pitcher stands menacingly on the mound, glaring down the opponent, before lobbing a fastball towards the plate, which the batter may or may not hit, with physics taking over at this point. Rather simple fare, really.

Please ignore the relatively unrealistic baseball aspects. Such as, how do little leaguers throw one hundred mile per hour fastballs, hit three hundred foot home runs with wooden bats, jump an entire body length higher then an outfield fence, slide fifteen feet, and steal bases without even drawing a throw? There’s a lot of farcical gameplay, which adds to the mood of a sandlot game that is being created.

However, there are some novel gameplay elements added to Bad News Baseball. Defense is heavily emphasized; bad defensive players run impossibly slow in the field, and have arms matching the quality of Kelly Osborne’s singing. Likewise, speed ratings and batting statistics play a large role in how a player performs. Therefore, strategic elements often arise. Should you put in defensive replacements late in the game? If the game goes into extra innings, you lose some pop in the lineup, but you might not get that chance if your blundering second baseman throws the ball away. You are Tony LaRussa in this game, using flurries of substations in order to maximize the potential of your little leaguers.

Also, Bad News Baseball is one of the few early Nintendo baseball games that allowed more then just two pitches. The normal two are here; a fastball, and a bastardized change-up, which is basically just a fastball that you don’t throw as fast. However, holding up will automatically cause your pitcher to throw a curveball, which is un-hittable but always called a ball if not swung at. This is an option not normally seen until later games, and Bad News Baseball was probably the first game to effectively use it. Make no mistake, a steady mix of curve balls and fastballs, with an occasional change, will keep any opponent on their toes. The batter-pitcher interface is superb in this regard.

Of course, this would matter more if all your pitchers didn’t have such low endurance. This is the most pressing gameplay concern. Even the best pitchers are only at their best for two to four innings. After this point, pitches lose speed dramatically, and a call to the pen must be made. You can expect to use at least three pitchers per game, four if you want to manage it like a real game and use a closer.

Bad News Baseball is no pushover, despite the cutesy graphics and backyard baseball playing style. Holding the computer scoreless is a feat worthy of praise. Most games resemble over forty softball and beer festivals, as run totals soar into the teens. Some form of computer assistance (whereby the computer tries to stay close to you in order to ensure more exciting scores) is used. The only noticeable flaw is that the computer will often leave its pitchers in while tired, allowing you to pummel their weak twenty mile per hour offerings. All in all, you’ll win more then you’ll lose, but not a whole lot more.

All these factors do combine to make Bad News Baseball a formidable multiplayer baseball game. It’s perfect for those looking for quick and easy baseball games, as you don’t have to worry extensively about what team you pick, load times, or any other problems that plague new baseball games. The high scores and fast learning curve also tend to encourage gamers who aren’t necessarily hardcore baseball fanatics. The aforementioned innovative pitching system also allows two pros to battle effectively in a match of managing skills.

The kids in Bad News Baseball look like kids. Sounds simplistic, but it’s a godsend for a console that seldom has appropriate images for the characters involved. Character models range from short fat stumpy little kids to tall skinny little kids. The only negative concerning the graphics would be the all too familiar radioactive sheen over everything. “Bright” is an understatement, and I wouldn’t blame you if you utilize the brightness function on your computer.

Not much to say about the sounds, but then again, there never is. Various simple tunes echo throughout gameplay, and like every other Nintendo game ever released, you’ll either dig them immediately, or mute the television with the quickness of O.J. Simpson exiting a murder scene. Shrill pings make a pathetic attempt to capture the excitement of bat-on-ball, but alas, the Nintendo just isn’t technologically advanced enough to support totally immersing sound effects.

If you want a fun baseball game that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of later games, then Bad News Baseball is the perfect game for you. Despite being about two decades old, and lacking some gameplay modes that were common at the time, it’s still remarkably more playable then games on newer consoles. Give it at least one whirl, chances are that you won’t be disappointed.
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