The thing about listicles is that they’re kind of addictive. I can sort of see why BuzzFeed is so enamored with the damn things–they’re fun to compile and can make some generally good writing without too much effort.
As I was going through the 12 Days of Geekmas (which I utterly failed on because the holiday loafing around COMPLETELY ate me), I wrote up eight underloved gaming classics. Shortly after posting that list, however, my mind was almost immediately flooded with other titles that I’d completely forgotten about.
So here’s five more!
#1: Town and Country Surf Designs: Wood and Water Rage
Living in the Virginia Beach area during the late 80’s and early 90’s was something of a renaissance for me. Particularly when it came to skateboarding. The area was huge for skaters and surfers alike, and I rode my board in the street a LOT during this time. I visited 17th Street Surf Shop on a couple of occasions and rode this exact skateboard. I must have busted my ass I don’t know how many times.
So, naturally, everything skating or surfing was a big part of my gaming life as well…and this shiny little gem of a goofy game featured pretty heavily at around that time. T&C Surf was a challenging title for only having a couple of modes, and I think had some of the nicer graphics for the NES at the time, featuring large and distinct sprites and some damn good water effects for the period.
All you basically did was either ride a skateboard along a disturbingly rundown boardwalk or ride a surfboard as a gorilla “dude”…but man, that was the stuff I was deep in to and it was great fun for my age
#2: Skate or Die!
….no seriously, I was DEEP.
Skate or Die is the progenitor of the Tony Hawk games. It was the next step after playing something like California Games on the Atari. I even managed to sort of enjoy Skate or Die 2, believe it or not.
Both games, if I can be completely honest, are not great….but then, I was young and loved skating SO MUCH that I didn’t care. And, really, when you managed to wrestle the controls in to submission and you got a long string of halfpipe tricks put together, it felt really damn good.
I’d even revisit it again just to sort of dive in to the era-related cheese, such as the intrinsic ties of skating to hyper-punk aesthetics. See, at the time, skating was still very much frowned upon–not a sport so much as a hooligan’s activity, and the culture embraced this renegade lifestyle…even if the marketing guys perhaps played those cards a bit too hard in many cases.
#3: 8 Eyes
…oh man, this game. This freakin’ game.
8 Eyes involved your character and a random-ass pet falcon going to mansions across the world, poking monsters with a sword and unlocking things until you opened the main boss’ door to poke HIM with a sword and retrieve one of the eight titular gems, called the Eight Eyes.
Couple of things stand out to me and this title. For one, I always found it kind of funny that, after you beat the manor boss, you’d both sit down and have a cup of tea. It confused me at the time…like the whole thing wasn’t a grand quest so much as a gentleman’s bet for the rich and utterly insane.
Two, this game was another title that was super difficult. I got close to beating it, but never really did. My brother and I would spend very late, long Friday nights trying our ass off to beat this bastard and never got it done. And I was “of age” for this thing at the time…I can only imagine how harsh this would be to me at my age now.
#3: Hogan’s Alley
Everyone remembers Duck Hunt for the NES, but I don’t know that too many recall this little piece of light gun loveliness. Hogan’s Alley had a title that had little or nothing to do with shooting targets, as far as I knew, but it was probably the most complete light gun game for the NES ever created.
Yep. Even better than Duck Hunt.
Duck Hunt had you either shooting clay pigeons or shooting ducks. This game had you shooting targets, or shooting baddies who popped up from areas, or shooting cans in the air for as long as possible…it was a way more varied game and had a LOT more going on in it.
Sadly, it seems to be the Luigi to Duck Hunt’s Mario, which is a real shame. Seems like it did the light gun way more justice.
#4: Rescue: The Embassy Mission
Seeing this game’s title literally made me leap up and squee in my seat, so that should tell you where this game falls for me, mentally.
This game was one-note, but action packed as HELL. You played a group of SWAT people I suppose? I dunno. Basically you were tasked with infiltrating a large building that was taken over and has hostages. You would snipe some enemies to thin the herd, then rappel down the side and bash in, taking out baddies while saving as many hostages as possible…
It really was a great game. It was Rainbow Six for the NES and with somewhat less forethought. I played this game over and over and over when I was a kid, trying my best to improve my clear rate and save as many people as possible. It was like a pinball table with special operatives.
#5: Solstice: The Quest for the Staff of Demnos
The NES was a master at making unique, compelling and ass-stompingly hard videogames, and Solstice was one of the best examples. Nevermind that it was in an isometric perspective, which was hard to parse at the time for me when every other NES game side-scrolled…but you had a whole series of puzzle rooms that forced your big purple mage-dude to think instead of run?
This game is probably one of the most fiendishly clever puzzle games ever. Your character didn’t get to use weapons. Nope. He used his brain and a variety of potions in order to pass through. And God help you if you came to a certain room but didn’t have the right potion, because you pretty much automatically fail. It was a punishing bastard, and joins the list of games I’ve never conquered.
However, I feel like I’d have a better chance with this one now than I did then. Ideally, age has granted wisdom….heheh..yeah…
The moment I publish this list, I’m probably going to remember some more titles, and so this will likely continue on in perpituity. I hope you guys enjoyed…and if you have any others you wanna share, feel free.
I mean, there’s a retro gaming store in my nearby mall that I could totally buy these carts from now.