Sunday, 11 March 2012

Childhood gaming memories : Part 3

My Top 10 : Lesser Known games from my childhood

Whilst looking through the Wii Virtual Console store today a few games appeared that I remembered playing when I was younger such as Super Mario World, Super Mario Bros 3 and Dynamite Headdy just to name a few and it was Dynamite Headdy that got me thinking about some of the games that I used to play that aren't as popular as the Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario Bros games, so here are my top 10 lesser known games from my childhood.

10) Krusty's Super Fun house

Krusty's Super Fun House was released in 1992 for SNES and Sega Mega Drive and is the first of my Simpsons related games on this list. The aim of this game is while playing as Krusty the Klown to use objects to lead the rats from the beginning of the level in his fun house to the extermination unit overcoming obstacles and puzzles until he is rid of all the rats, this uses the basics of the game Lemmings except you are trying to kill the rodents, not save them. A selection of The Simpsons characters pop up at the end of each level using the extermination machines including Bart, Homer and Sideshow Mel. 

9) Twinbee : Rainbow Bell Adventure

At number 9 is a typical side-scrolling adventuring game (released on the SNES in 1994) with the goal of recovering the stolen 'Rainbow Bell' from the evil scientist Dr. Warmon who wants to take over the world. The rainbow bell which shines with all the colours of the rainbow brings peace to the universe - as long as it continues to ring but with the bell gone the princess is mysteriously fading  away so its up to Twinbee, Winbee and Gwinbee to save the day by exploring the bright and colourful lands progressing through the map to defeat the evil scientist and restore peace to the universe once again. With its bright colours and catchy happy music its a joy to play though for all ages.

8) Maniac Mansion

Although initially released in 1987 for the Commodore 64 / Apple ll the version we are looking at today is the 1992 NES version. 
Maniac Mansion is a 'point and click' graphic adventure game which follows the main character - Dave Miller, who has to rescue his girlfriend from the evil mad scientist and his evil mad family. You control Dave and two of his friends, using them to work together through the mansion where everything in your surroundings can be picked up or used and you have to work out how to get his girlfriend out of there, there are many ways of playing the game with many humorous ways to die and lots of silly things to do that aren't necessary to the story (such as putting the hamster in the microwave and cooking it). There are six characters to select from to be Dave's friends and each have their own abilities, therefore different characters will play through the game differently, boosting its replay value even further than just playing with everything available.

Even though its a 24 year old game its still a fun game to play today with a silly wacky storyline about brain sucking mad scientists being controlled by a sentient meteor that crashed into their mansion 20 years beforehand and then kidnapping cheerleaders to do strange experiments on.

7) The Aquatic Games : Featuring James Pond

This spin off from the James Pond : Underwater Agent series was released for the Mega Drive and SNES in 1992 and is a brilliant track and field spoof. The game consists of different olympic-themed levels including :

  • The 100m splash (running)
  • Kipper watching (Volleyball)
  • Hope, skip and jump (Triple jump)
  • The bouncy castle (trampoline somersaults) 
  • Feeding time 
  • Shell shooting 
  • Tour de grass (cycling)
  • Leap frog (100m hurdles)
The games are fun and easy to complete and can become more challenging if you try to go for gold in each game. The addition of 2 /3 /4 players is also a welcome addition for competing against friends. Overall a fun game to pick up and play as there is no real storyline to it, just a fun way to play a sports game.

6) Cool Spot

Cool Spot was originally a mascot for the drink 7-up in the 1980's before being made into a video game character in 1993. The aim of the game was to collect the red spots in the levels within the time limit and release his similar looking 'cool spot' friends at the end of the level. Cool Spot has to avoid enemies and can attack them using soda bubbles. The game is very short with only 10 levels but its very memorable and as a child it felt like it would take forever to complete and it does have some great music and even won 'Best cartridge music of the year 1993'.

5) Dynamite Headdy

This side-scrolling platformer was released in 1994 on the Mega Drive and features Headdy - a puppet with a detachable head who arrives in North Town to find that the evil puppet king Dark Demon is attacking the town, deciding which toys should live and which ones will become his evil minions. As Headdy is captured and sent to the incinerator he escapes and sets off to destroy the evil puppet king. 
Headdy can use various pick-ups to transform his head into different weapons , as his head is detachable he can shoot his head in 8 different directions to attack minions, transformations his head can make include a suction head, metal head and shrinking head and he can use these different strengths throughout the levels. The graphics, music and gameplay are brilliant and this is a game that has even been released on the Wii's virtual console so can be picked up and played again for a new generation. 

4) California Games

California games is still one of my favourite sports games out there after all these years, first released in 1987 then later ported onto other consoles such as the Mega Drive (with much more  updated graphics) it took a stand back from its other games in the series such as Summer Games and Winter Games which were very traditional Olympic sport games. 
California Games has an incredible soundtrack with 6 different games to compete in, rather than the traditional types of games you get ones more likely to be played in California - 

  • Half Pipe Skateboarding
  • Roller skating
  • Surfing
  • BMX 
  • Footbag
  • Frisbee 
Each of these games have their own memorable soundtrack and the challenges were difficult at times but satisfying when completed and so much fun to keep trying again and again, it didn't matter how many times I would trip over something whether it was a banana skin, cans or tires when roller skating it was always funny to see her falling flat on her face on what must be the dirtiest pavement in California.

3) The Simpsons : Bart vs The Space Mutants

Bart vs The Space Mutants has to be one of my all time favourite Simpsons games, released in 1991 it was the first of many Simpsons games to be created. In this side-scrolling adventure you play Bart Simpson and you have to destroy the Space Mutants plans for collecting everything purple to power their machine to take over the world, only Bart can see the aliens and their plans through the use of his X-ray specs. Bart can spray paint purple objects red to stop the aliens taking them and jump on aliens who are disguised as people to get rid of them.
Bart can also use his skateboard and even interact with some of the scenery, such as you can use pay phones to call Moe's Tavern to prank call Moe. 
While being a short game with only five levels of collecting items and a boss level the music is recognisable from the Simpsons world and alot of the characters appear, its simple yet fun, making it the perfect Simpsons arcade game like those seen in The Simpsons TV show.

2) Marvel Land (Talmit's Adventure)

Marvel Land is a bright, colourful side-scrolling platformer that was released in 1989, one of its best features apart from its wacky 'save the princess from the evil mole king' plot is its music, its so bright and cheery and very catchy and it all fits perfectly with each of the four levels.
The levels are so much fun because they differ from the likes of Mario and Sonic , this is set at an amusement park with levels taking place on rollercoasters, in fun houses and at fair grounds. It also includes mini games for the boss fights such as rock, paper, scissors, musical chairs and tug of war, making it far more interesting than the usual 'hit the boss X amount of times until he explodes'. 
This cute mix of colour, fun and adventure is the perfect mixture for a great game and I can remember spending many years playing this game over and over, although released on the Wii's virtual console in Japan in 2009 I still hold hope for a re-release here one day.

1) World of Illusion : Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck

World of illusion was released in 1992 and is one of the games that I can remember playing the most during my childhood. 

The game starts with Mickey and Donald practising for a magic show when something goes horribly wrong and they are sucked into a magical world where they must fight their way through the different themed levels in order to get back home again.

Along their adventure they learn new magic tricks to help them find their way home, such as using a magic carpet, underwater bubbles to swim in, transportation boxes and card control to make bridges and pathways out of cards. 

The game can be played with either character and each have their own strengths, mickey can fit through small gaps while Donald must find a different route, unless you use both characters in the multiplayer mode - then you can work together, Mickey can pull donald through tight gaps and they can both use ropes to help each other up to high places.

The addition on multiplayer was a big game changer for me as it opened up a new experience that I hadn't seen before, coupled with its fantastic music and beautiful level design this game was the perfect game for me for many years and just thinking about it again makes me want to find my old Mega Drive, play it again and relive all the fantastic memories it created all those years ago.

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