Saturday, February 27, 2010

Okay, who brought the dog?

Gotta love finally deciding to go after those last 9 games and having ZERO time to do it the last couple days...kinda kills the buzz. Like when you are rolling along in Phantom Fighter thinking to yourself "Wow, this game's great, how come I never heard of this before?" then you get to the part where that little pygmy beyotch starts following you around and you can't get rid of him, like that snot you can't flick from your finger.

Maybe I'll have time tomorrow.

Last out, anyone who's able to beat Overlord or Magician without using codes, feel free to comment below.

That's what I thought.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Quest

Hello, my name's Adam and I'm an NESaholic. I've been a NESaholic since Christmas 1986 when my mother got me an NES. After 23 years or so of being a NESaholic the keg has almost run dry and I'm scrounging the stale dregs at the bottom of other people's bottles in hope of downing every last drop of NESahol that I can possibly find.

It started out innocently enough. I had the Intellivision and Colecovision when I was younger and played games like any other child would. The Nintendo came out in '85 and a few kids in my school were lucky enough to get one. I recall not having much interest in it at the time. I was heavily into Star Wars, GI Joe and Transformers toys at the time, so video games were in the background. Then came the birthday party.

About 10 of us were invited to a friend's birthday bash. We watched him open his toys while we kicked back and had a few...chocolate milks or something. It was his last gift that hooked me. Was that the new Nintendo he just opened? Why does it come with a robot? His dad hooked it up and we instantly became swallowed up by Super Mario Brothers. The birthday party became less about Dennis (the birthday boy) and more about who's turn it was to play. I got to play as the green guy (Luigi) and suddenly I knew I needed to have this.

It took almost a year but I finally did get it for Christmas in '86. I spent hours playing and beat Super Mario Brothers the 3rd or 4th day I had it. I remembered being amazed that the game had an ending message. I had never seen one of those. The other 3 games I got, Baseball, Gyromite and Duck Hunt were all ok, but SMB was simply amazing. I played the hell out of the game and didn't get another game until the summer of '86, when I saved up enough money from my job bussing tables to purchase Ikari Warriors. I played the hell out of it, using the ABBA code to infiltrate deep into the game, but was stopped short of getting a satisfying end by some zombie looking dude sitting at a desk with missiles raining down on me. I died there because the game doesn't let you use ABBA at that part of the game, but I knew there had to be more...there had to be an ENDING!

Years go by and I get games for my birthday and buy a few myself, including Legend of Kage, Legacy of the Wizard, Rygar, Milon's Secret Castle, Blaster Master...the list goes on. Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy suck me into the RPG genre and one day at Toys R Us a cool looking "RPG" shows up called Nobunaga's Ambition. It retails for around $70, the most expensive game I've ever seen, so it must be good! I save up the $$ and make the proud purchase, only to get home and find's different. I try to like the game but can't. Peasants revolt, plague strikes my prefecture, I get wiped out in battle... I paid $70 for this?? This is my Chinese water torture and that, my friends, was my first experience with Koei.

Towards the end of high school and into college I rented games at an alarming rate and finished most of them. I'd get coupons for the local video store where you could rent 3 games for $5, almost always beating the trifecta, except for the random Dragon Power or RoboWarrior debacles. Every time I beat one I would write it down in my notebook and also write what I did to beat the game (ie "Killed Dracula" for Castlevania). Yes folks, the social life wasn't exactly blooming in those days, though college did break open my social life.

College ended in 1995 and I still enjoyed playing the NES after almost 10 years. I had gotten a SNES and Genesis and enjoyed those games a lot, but the NES still felt like home. The games were simple and didn't blow you away, but man were they fun and had a ton of character. However, I started paying more attention to the 2-bit ho's than the 8-bit games and eventually I got married in 1999 to my beautiful wife Amy. After 5 years we were finally blessed with twins, Ava and Aidan. My gaming time in this period dropped considerably for obvious reasons, but every once in awhile I would find time to get into a new game when everyone was asleep and I found myself with some rare free time.

At the end of '03 and beginning of '04 I had made my last big dent in the list and beat several of the NES games that had been raw dogging me, like Black Bass, Blue Marlin, Might & Magic, Magician, Overlord, Star Trek: The Next Generation and several others. The drought began right after that, as I decided these games weren't fun to me and wanted to take a break from "The Quest." I kept beating PAL and Famicom games when time permitted, since I got to pick from a whole new library of games, but I didn't beat another US title until January of 2005 when I finished Tombs & Treasures. Championship Pool came next in March of that year then finally Wario's Woods in November.

2006 came and went without a single game being knocked off the list. The remaining games seemed like less fun than getting wisdom teeth removed, so I just simply avoided them. In April 2007 someone on a Gamefaqs message board said Overlord was impossible to beat. I had never actually tried that game but knew it would be a pain in the ass. Using codes I got lucky and beat it in about 2 hours. I know I cheated, but there was still joy in seeing the ending to a game that pretty much everyone thought was unbeatable. If you've beaten this legit, please comment.

F-117A Stealth Fighter came next in May and then I went nearly 3 years without tackling a US NES game. The drive simply wasn't there. In the back of my mind I knew someday I would revisit those remaining dark games, but for some reason it just wasn't a top priority.

Then, a few weeks ago, after plodding through games like Deep Dungeon for the FDS and several difficult Famicom games, I realized if I am now toiling in the Famicom slums I might as well try and knock off at least one of the remaining 11 NES titles, so I broke out Pool of Radiance and actually enjoyed it tremendously. One of the first areas in that game, cleaning out the slums, made me think it was a sign that I needed to clean out the slums of my games remaining list. I took out Bandit Kings a week later, suffering substantial psychological damage in the process (see last week's blog), so here I am, taking another look at the 9 games that laugh at me from afar and taunt me with their sinister black-toothed grins.

That murderer's row consists of:

-Miracle Piano Teaching System (wtf??)
-Nobunaga's Ambition II
-Romance of the 3 Kingdoms II
-Silent Service
-Ultima: Warriors of Destiny
-Unchartered Waters

If you are familiar with the movie Pulp Fiction, by looking at this list you can consider me to be Koei's gimp. Miracle Piano will no doubt be the last on this list to fall. I do own the game, keyboard and I think the foot pedal, but have no desire to get into it and hook up an actual NES, especially after looking through the nearly 200 page manual. Plus, my kids will probably destroy the keyboard and color all over it before I get a chance to finish it.

You will be reading more about these games in the coming months. Hopefully the news will be good, but I know there are still several sodomy lessons ahead for me here. As much as I want to get into Pirates, which seems like the most pleasant of the bunch, I need to thin out the herd of Koei games first, but those fuckers are like toxic waste to me and I need to find a good helmet and a pair of hazmat gloves before I go after them.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Give and Take

I promised I'd mention the 9 games that I have yet to finish. I want to save that for when I have more time.

Right now I'll mention the 2 I've had flirtations with in the last few days.

First, Nobunaga's Ambition II.

I started getting into this, figuring I'd strike while the iron was hot since I was used to that Koei feel from slaying Bandit Kings. The good news is that the game feels pretty much the same so far. The character set-up is almost identical and the general feel of the game is very similar to BKoAC. The bad news is that the whore froze up on me again when I was creating codes for it.

Luckily I learned from my mistakes with Bandit Kings and wrote down the codes as I was making them. The only problem is that I should have stopped after 10 codes but tried for 12 and that's when FCEUX decided to seize up. So now it's personal with Nobunaga's Ambition II. You have drawn first blood and are no longer just another title on a list. It will be all the more sweeter when I get around to kicking your ass...or I will just be in line for even more heartache and gray curlies.

The other game that inspires a bit more hope in me is the insipid Ultima: Warriors of Destiny by FCI.

I started playing this a couple weeks ago using Andrew Schultz's FAQ. If you don't know Andrew he is an RPG guru...and puzzle game wizard...screw it, the guy can break down pretty much anything we find difficult and make it seem easy. Anyway, he wrote a pretty straight-forward guide for Ultima: WoD. I had played this a bit years ago and couldn't get past the crappy controls in the first hut.

This game became like a shit-stain in my favorite boxers to me. You want to wear them because they were cool but now you don't really want to don them because of the evil skid mark that won't wash out. You also don't want to throw them away, so you just keep them at the bottom of the rotation and whenever you get close to having to wear them it triggers the alarm to do more laundry.

But I digress. The game stayed at the bottom of my games-to-beat mental list, being replaced by various Famicom, PAL and Famicom Disk System games that were a hell of a lot funner to play than the double handful of American NES games left to beat. So when I tackled Pool of Radiance a couple weeks ago I made the decision to attack Ultima: Warriors of Destiny.

Again, I started by making a few codes for it. The usual, infinite health, infinite items...I wanted to set myself up for as smooth a gaming experience as I could. It took me a good 10 minutes to actually get comfortable with the controls and then using Andrew's FAQ I made some pretty good progress, making it to Lord British's castle. Wow, I'm actually making progress on scrubbing the shit stain out! Let's work on the edges first then go for the heart!

Went through the castle and found the magic carpet, which the FAQ says is a really nifty item. Cool, can't wait to use it. Raid the rest of the castle for stuff, visit a few scum bags in the jail then head outside to test drive the carpet. OK, the FAQ said to put it in my visible item spot on the screen, but for some reason the screen keeps saying NOT IN COMBAT. C'MON MAN!!! WTF?!? I can't equip this fucking rug to save my soul, so I do a "magic carpet" word search through the entire FAQ and it seems like this is the 1 indispensible item you need to get past many areas later in the game. You have to use it so much in this game the word probably turns up more in the "Control F" search than the fucking word AND. Argh.

I try everything and nothing gets it to work. Finally a guy on one of the code boards I go to tells me I should turn off all the codes, die, then try to use the carpet. Yeah, like that's gonna work. I try it and....HOLY SHIT I'M RIDING THE FUCKING RUG LIKE ALADDIN!!!

Ok, now I'm excited. I am officially on board for Ultima: WoD and if I can figure out which cheats were preventing me from using the carpet I can progress further. Maybe I will just play through it without cheats. We'll find out, but now I can get back to rolling in Ultima: Warriors of Destiny and possibly wittle the games left to beat list down to 8.

On a related note, the wife knows I am back into hardcore NES gaming. The day I had the Bandit Kings migrane I was supposed to do all kinds of laundry and shit but I created a blog and watched Notorious (Hitchcock version, not that hip-hop shit). She assumes my current lethargic state is from staying up all night playing video games, so she tells me I need to stop. I shouldn't be wasting my time with stupid shit like this. "But you should be excited, I only have 9 left to beat!! I've been working on this since, like, long before I met you." Bad choice of words. The rest can be left to your imagination, but needless to say I need to lie low for awhile then strike again. Damn you Bandit Kings for kicking my ass and blowing my cover.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bandit Kings of Ancient China

You don't judge the Evil Gao Qiu. You just don't.

I'm gonna save you a long explanation and about 15 years of on and off again frustration and give you the highlights of my 6 hour marathon with this "game" from last night/this morning.

It took forever to make cheats for it. Yes, I use cheats to beat games now, especially dickhead games like this that try to grab you by the balls like an ex-wife grubbing for child support. I never stated I was beating all these NES games fairly. I have a wife and 2 kids who monopolize my time (rightfully so), so I get scraps of playing time when they are either sleeping or off doing things because Dad is "too tired." Anyway, back to the cheats. I literally felt like Koei put a little devil bitch inside the ROM to bat away at EVERY SINGLE FUCKING EFFORT of mine to make a cheat or do anything right. I'm usually pretty good at finding the correct addresses to manipulate, but trying to make cheats for Bandit Kings was like a 3-legged cat trying to bury a turd on a frozen pond (see: Beavis & Butthead).

Whipon at discovered that his published cheats for this game were no good because he found out that the game's hex addresses change with every new game, so you have to make them special for each game played. FCEUX's normal cheat search simply did not work for ANYTHING on Bandit Kings, so I had to use the debugger, which was new to me and involves looking through thousands of hex addresses for the one value you are searching for.

After an hour or so I found the Popularity address!! You see, the only way to defeat the Evil Gao Qiu is to raise your popularity over 250, which takes forever because you get slaughtered before you can kill enough rabid wolves to raise it.

So, when Popularity gets past 250 and January comes around again the pussy Emperor gives you the Imperial Edict, which says you can now go after the Evil Gao Qiu. If the Emperor wants this piece of shit killed so badly, why do you have to waste time killing fucking wolves to get it?? The Emperor needs to get a set of balls, so it seems.

OK, we got the Edict. Now we can go into the Evil Gao Qiu's prefecture, kill him and get the ending. I'd been waiting 15 years for that Edict, now the fun part comes and I can slay that son of a bitch once and for all, right?. Nope. When you attack Gao Qiu in his prefecture he slips out at some point in the battle, but you still need to beat down his forces, as you will just have to fight them again in another Prefecture anyway. Battles take forever. Once you win you have to find him in another Prefecture, then he does the same damned thing again. He's more slippery than shower jizz.

About 3 hours into the marathon, FCEUX decides it's gonna freeze up and crash. When I reload the game all the cheats are gone (I managed to find values for strength, wisdom and all that crap only by checking the addresses near the popularity address). I almost gave up at that point but I said screw it and soldiered on.

I finally corner the cockbag in this one Prefecture only to discover that the one guy in my army that I managed to make a somewhat stable infinite troops code for (Welcome Rain) cannot pass over the water sections of the map because he doesn't have a boat, therefore I can't get past the water to the bad guys. I had to go back to my last save state from 30 minutes before and it took another 10 minutes to figure out I can have a guy make a boat and give it to my main guy.

The peasants revolted at one point because my loyalty value dropped to 0 and I wasn't paying attention. These peasants are a fucking nuisance. Just ask the two survivors at the end of Shichinin no Samurai. They should be grateful I'm protecting them from this asshole Evil Gao Qiu. Also, we get the point that he is Evil. Was he born Evil? Was he an Evil baby? Did he suck milk out of his mom's teat viciously while leering at her out of the corner of his eye? He must be destroyed!

Just when I think I have everything figured out, during battle my main squad (the one I made the workable code for infinite men) "gets tired" and can't fight for about 3 rounds. If you don't win the battle in 30 rounds you lose. Which one of the 45 fucking icons do you need to boost to keep your guy from getting tired? This is ridiculous. Whoever made this game was a worm.

The fucking wolves attacked my prefecture around 2am, so I had to waste a turn fighting them off. Every time you think you are ready to go in for the final battle and try planning ahead, some damned ridiculous thing like this goes down.

When I FINALLY got that little beyotch Evil Gao Qiu cornered between 2 MOUNTAIN RANGES, he manages to escape. I chased the asshole into an adjacent prefecture and he hopped back out into another one after one quick round of battle. I thought I was NEVER going to beat this.

Finally, during a battle I only brought Welcome Rain's troops into a prefecture to bait him out and managed to get into battle with him. When I got his forces down under 100 (the number turns red), he disappeared out of the prefecture again!!! I went back to the battle save state and figured "why not try the useless duel command" which worked on nobody during the entire game. It fucking worked!!!!! I finally got the ending after all these years and got to see one of the most elusive, hard-to-kill bad ass characters ever get beheaded.

I'm sure I missed a bunch of other annoyances in this game. I played the game on the hardest difficulty (5) because if there was a better ending than the youtube video I wanted to get it, but it was the same (other than the character you use and the date you capture Evil Gao Qiu).

I played this from 9pm to 3am and when the phone woke me up at 9am I had the worst migraine I've had in years and my vision was blurred, but it's worth it for finally knocking this piece of dogshit off the list. I was ready to give up several times but thought of the few people that have actually beaten this without cheat codes, so I kept going. I think it may have been so evil because the difficulty level was at 5...I don't know. I'm naming my next grey pube after the main programmer, by the way.

Now that Evil Gao Qiu has been vanquished in my gaming universe, he automatically gets first ballot honors into my badass Hall of Fame, along with such nasty scum like Mike Tyson, that dish rag slunt Dark Queen from Battletoads and the fucking Grumpasaurus from Muppet Adventure.


There's nothing really important here.

Just wanted to keep a personal written record of my thoughts on NES games as I play them since:
(1) old age is setting in and I don't remember half the games I've played and
(2) I play a lot of obscure old NES/Famicom shit that most people won't touch ("Tales from the videogame slums" one of my friends told me when describing one of these wretched games to him).

I'll look back at old NES titles I beat and make comments on the progress of the 9 US released NES games that continue to be the bane of my existence. You bitches know who you are. You lure me in with the hope that you will give it up, only to mentally blue ball me just about every time in the end.
In fact, my first entry will be about a game I just finished at 3:30am this morning that had been using and abusing me for the last 12 years or so. If you are one of the 3 people reading this, stay tuned...