It was 1987 and I was one of the few who wanted Sega Master System in the States versus everyone I knew at that time jumping on the Nintendo craze. I never regretted it as I was able to show off some great games like Phantasy Star, Zillion, After Burner, Shinobi, and the two player co-op Double Dragon.
I was around 10 years old at that time and as an avid gamer I also played the NES at friends' houses and definitely loved it just as much and later down the road bought one. But this was before that and the things I looked for in games.
When I was younger, two of the coolest things kids wanted to do were flying kicks and flips. I remember finally learning how to flip and later back flip and feeling so cool. Also at the time movies about Kung Fu and Karate were at all time highs. There was Bruce Lee, Karate Kid, WWF Wrestling had Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, also break dancing was still strong at that time.
What I noticed in NES titles was that a lot of the characters seemed to do cooler moves than my Master System counterparts could. The Contra guys did flips when they jumped over lasers, Ninja Gaiden there were flips, and then even though I felt the Sega version of Double Dragon was superior, I couldn't help but want to be able to climb ladders. That was omitted from the Master System version...not that it was necessary it was just another cool element added to the game.
I looked at my games again and Shinobi didn't do flips. Ninja Gaiden never was released for the Master System in the states so Shinobi and Black Belt were about as good as it got but they were excellent in their own right. I began to see more games on the NES with interesting platforming like Bionic Commando with the swinging arm. Excite Bike had a funny and fun gameplay mechanic where you could get in front of a competitor's bike and stop and watch as their bike went flying into a crash. Meanwhile, if I tried to do that in Hang-On or Enduro Racer it would be an instant explosion of death.
It was these small things in games that I looked at. I was so enamored with characters that could do more than go from left to right. I liked them to go from left to right in more interesting ways. In forth grade I had a decent report card and my Dad took me down to the store to pick out a new game as reward. I was excited and I would study the back of each box carefully including screen shots as it was really all I had to go on. There was no internet, magazines here only focused primarily on Nintendo games, and I didn't have the convenience of renting games like my Nintendo owning friends could. People barely knew what a Sega was.
So scanning the boxes I came across a game that showed the main character climbing a ladder. Yep, it was an instant sell to me at that time. Something so lame by today's standards but it sold me. It was Captain Silver. I played that game everyday for weeks until I finally beat it. Climbing on pirate ships and fighting was so exciting for me. To finally have a game on the Master System that did the things that Nintendo games had been doing. I was really thinking the game was awesome.
I went back to try and play that game again recently which prompted me to write this blog. Something so lame as climbing a ladder made me buy a fifty dollar game. And I think because there weren't reviews and negative press back then I enjoyed every minute of it and actually completed it. Trying to beat that game the other day was a nightmare. It was one of those one touch instant death types of games. The platforming was so crazy that you had to make sure you timed and stood in the absolute perfect spot to make jumps. Then the off screen characters that would kill you was harsh. Also if you had to back track at all, those enemies you thought you killed instantly respawned to even more frustrating hilarity.
Collecting my thoughts, barely getting through level 1, I couldn't believe that my 10 year old self completed such an evil title of difficulty. I did it though and my 10 year old self taped the ending on a VHS tape. The funny thing is that I had fun with this game back then. I still had fond memories of it in my head before I recently tried to beat it again to no avail.
My blog was mostly about a game that I loved as a kid that just hasn't aged well at all. It reminds me of maybe how patient and just plain better at games I used to be. It also covers what sold us as kids and how minor it seems when compared to these deep detailed internet debates. I guess I'm just one of those players that remembers back when small things made all the difference. Now people get upset with the amount of ram, tflops, or gigs of space they have available to them. In 1987, a single game that let you do something a little extra or a little differently, went a long way.
PS: I wanted the Revenge of Shinobi for Sega Genesis so bad when I saw that double jump flip ninja throwing star move! Sega must have noticed that people wanted to flip. Think about Sonic. It wasn't his speed that made him cooler than Mario, it was his normal platforming jump was a flip and not a boring normal jump!
A boss that only few hardcore players have ever battled...or defeated.