Battletoads is a platformer video game created by Tim and Chris Stamper and developed by Rare. Starring three anthropomorphic toads named after skin conditions (Rash, Zitz and Pimple), the game was created to rival the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games.
It is arguably one of the most graphically advanced video games ever released for the NES, at a time when the video game market was turning to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The game became famous for its extreme difficulty and humorous ways of beating enemies, as during finishing attacks, the character’s body parts transform into gigantic, exaggerated appendages for devastating attacks and comic effect.
It was also one of hardest games to finish. Battletoads was brutally difficult and punished you on each and every level. This game will try every last ounce of your patience and more. It still however, somehow managed to keep gamers coming back again and again in order to settle the score. Different levels of the game have very different play styles. There are a few 3D and traditional 2D “beat-em-up” levels in which the player progresses by defeating enemies, though even these levels tend to have many lethal obstacles. The most difficult levels are the obstacle course and race levels, where the character must dodge a series of obstacles while driving or flying at high speed, or outrun an enemy that can instantly kill the player. These levels typically required the player to memorize the sequence of obstacles in the way, and to have extremely rapid reflexes. Other levels include a climbing/jumping “snake maze”, an underwater level with lethal spikes and dangerous monsters, and two difficult “tower climb” levels, including the final climb of the Dark Queen’s tower.
Part of the series’ marketable appeal is due to its exaggerated ways of finishing off enemies. These include a headbutt that has the player sprout ram horns (or, in Pimple’s case, a football helmet in the arcade game), a punch with an extremely enlarged fist, a two-handed smash into the ground that yielded only the enemy’s head sticking out, a kick move with the character sprouting a very enlarged boot, and on climbing/falling levels, the ability to transform into a wrecking ball by having your character line up with the wall on either side of the screen. All in all it was a brilliant game with fun gaming mechanics, crazy characters and ridiculous difficulty. Let’s hope Battletoads make a comeback at some point.
This was one of those rare psychological horror action-adventure video games that honestly messed with the player. I still clearly remember grabbing my TV remote to lower the volume (because it came up on the screen) and within seconds of having the screen flash; I then realized I had been had. Released and published by Nintendo on June 24, 2002 in North America, it was the first video game published directly by Nintendo to be rated M for mature by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
The game’s setting is centered around a mansion in Rhode Island, the home of the protagonist Alexandra Roivas’ grandfather and the mysterious book known as ‘The Tome of Eternal Darkness’ that Alexandra finds there. It is presented in a third-person perspective in which the player must navigate a number of locations as 12 characters spanning different time periods. The game utilizes unique “sanity effects” to enhance the game-play. The action in Eternal Darkness is divided between four principal locations. The game skips back and forth through time when the player begins or ends each chapter. The locations include the Forbidden City in Persia, a Cambodian temple in Angkor Thom, the Oublié Cathedral in Amiens, France, and the Roivas family mansion with the Ruined City of Ehn’gha in Rhode Island, U.S.
Eternal Darkness was a fantastic and very unique experience. I’m pretty sure fans would be lined up to buy the sequel if ever released. This could be another great “Mature” rated game for the Wii U that would definitely appeal to the hardcore crowd and demonstrate Nintendo’s willingness to win them back.
Killer Instinct is a fighting game developed by Rare and published by Midway and Nintendo. Initially released in arcades in 1994, and rumored to use an “Ultra 64″ hardware engine, in reality the proprietary arcade hardware was co-developed by Rare and Midway. The game received a high profile launch on the Super Nintendo.
Killer Instinct plays like many other fighting games, in which the player controls a character in order to beat an opponent in a one-on-one encounter. The game borrows the attack set of Street Fighter and is also inspired by the finishing moves from Mortal Kombat. There are also several features that distinguish it from other franchises including a double energy bar. Instead of winning two rounds, each player has two bars of energy. If a character finishes with his or her opponent’s first life bar, the fight stops and resumes like a round, but the winning character still keeps whatever amount of energy he or she had at that moment. The player who depletes his or her opponent’s second life bar wins the bout.
- Automatic combos: rather than press the necessary buttons in order to deliver the individual attacks that form a combo, in Killer Instinct the combos are automated and can be enabled by inputting a determined button or special move (which led to the character to deliver a string of hits).
- Finishing moves: Bearing resemblance to Mortal Kombat’s Fatalities, each character has at least two moves known as No Mercy (Danger Move in later revisions) in order to finish the opponent. One of these No Mercy moves can be executed at the end of a combo (which is labeled as an Ultimate combo), when the opponents life bar flashes red (when his or her second bar is going to be depleted), although it uses a different combination of movements. Another finisher is the Humiliation, that forces the opponent to dance (the dance style depends on the character), but this can only be used if the player has his or her first life bar. Unlike the Mortal Kombat fatalities, however, the Killer Instinct’s finishing moves do not feature brutality or dismemberment.
- Ultra Combo: Another finisher; it operates like an Ultimate combo, though this one allows the character to deliver a long string of hits as the combo finisher instead, usually surpassing 20 hits, and can sometimes reach upwards of 80 hits.
- Combo Breaker: The player who is being caught in a combo may break out of it by performing a combo breaker move. The combo breaker is a designated special move of the player’s character. A combo can be broken at either the auto-double or linker stage. To successfully break an auto-double, the player must use the breaker move at a strength lower than the auto-double itself (i.e. for a player to break a Medium auto-double s/he must use a Quick breaker). The combo can also be broken at the linker stage. At this stage the player can use any strength of breaker, making long combos a risky affair. Also, after performing a combo breaker, a white starburst will appear at the tip of the breaker’s health bar, enabling advanced versions of some special moves that require a different command (e.g. Jago, instead of a regular green fireball, can shoot a red fireball).
Killer Instinct had awesome characters such as Saberwulf, Orchid, Riptor and Glacius. Pulling off an Ultra Combo on your opponent was immensely satisfying. Final bosses were also quite epic. Spinal, an animated skeleton, carried a sword and shield, and had the ability to teleport and physically morph himself into a grayscale version of his opponents during combos. There was also Fulgore, which is a cyborg. He has two No Mercy moves: one in which it removes its head, revealing a large turret-like gun which shoots the enemy repeatedly; the other uses a laser beam from its eyes to reduce the opponent to ashes.
I think many fans of the fighting genre are hoping this franchise gets a much needed reboot with the Wii U. Wii shall see…