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StarTropics is pretty hard

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I'm playing StarTropics for the first time ever. It's fun, in the way NES top-down action games are, but it is also pretty brutal (especially the bosses) and sometimes just mean. In the first dungeon, there is a secret room with a potion(?). From that room, you get to another secret room with another potion. Here, you find another way to a third secret room. Only problem is, if you go into this room, you just die immediately. I decided to abuse save states after this.

The bosses are hard. The first one wasn't so bad, the torches make the fight pretty easy. But the Octopus is just obnoxious. He shoots stuff all the time, and the controls aren't the easiest to use, so have already died a bunch of times. Doesn't help that a hit takes of 1.5 hearts, with my maximum of 6 and actual amount of 3. Two hits until death isn't much.

It's still fun, but jest feels pretty clumsy in some ways. But I guess that's to be expected from an NES game.
 

ASandoval

Old Man Gamer
(he/him)
That third secret room from the first dungeon is infamous. Thankfully its the meanest thing in the entire game.

It's very clumsy but it also feels deliberate? Still difficult, but enemy patterns and timing are built around Mike's limitations. The less limited movement in the sequel somehow made the game even more clumsy.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Trick to Octo the Huge is to use the Snowman item when he comes in close; it’ll freeze him in place long enough for you to take off about half his health; and it’s got enough charges to hit him two or three times.

Now, the game not telegraphing what the Snowman does, and it only showing up in this one particular level, well, that’s just Startropics.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
The problem was more that I have no manual, which made it pretty hard to find out how to access magic stuff at all. The Snowman was, indeed, very useful to kill your cousin. Sorry, Octo, I would never do this to you, but you are also not an obnoxious jerk who captures young dolphins. Well, I at least think you are not.

And now I just had a brainfart and thought about why an octopus would capture a dolphin, and how he even pulled that off, and than I remembered that I played an NES game.

That third secret room from the first dungeon is infamous. Thankfully its the meanest thing in the entire game.

It's very clumsy but it also feels deliberate? Still difficult, but enemy patterns and timing are built around Mike's limitations. The less limited movement in the sequel somehow made the game even more clumsy.
The second dungeon had skeleton dodus, or something like that, and they didn't seem that way, but there is actually enough time to kill them, before they reach you. It's fascinating how they achieved a balance with your movement there (and in NES games in general).

That third secret room feels a bit like it's there to train you? Like, "hey, you can't trust anything here, this place is dangerous. You might die, and have no way of knowing it." And using this as the, by far, worst case, because you don't lose that much in the first dungeon. The mean trick in the third dungeon (having an exit near the real exit, that lets you out of the dungeon near where you started, so that you have to repeat the whole thing) at least doesn't eat a life of yours.

I'm just thankful for save states, is all I'm saying.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
Sounds like what you need is tips and tricks straight from the pros

 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
That third secret room feels a bit like it's there to train you? Like, "hey, you can't trust anything here, this place is dangerous. You might die, and have no way of knowing it." And using this as the, by far, worst case, because you don't lose that much in the first dungeon.
I remember finding that funny. I got greedy for free stuff and the game punished me for my greed. I'm a mixture of glad and sad that games don't do that any more.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
StarTropics is definitely a hard game, but I wouldn't put it among the most difficult on the NES - it's a step below stuff like Zelda II and Castlevania III IMO. I like it a lot, but it's just hard enough that I don't play it too often. I have finished the game legitimately once on the Wii VC and it wasn't as bad as all that.

Also, put me down as being a huge fan of the death room in the first dungeon. Fact is, they almost never do that to you again, but you'll spend the whole game expecting it because of that one trick. I think it's brilliant! I'm a big fan of the controls, too, as weird as they are. It's such a unique game, from the way it plays to the setting and story.
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
Lil tip: In Chapter 4, if you don't mind a bit of a grind, you can keep collecting the Heart Container to max out your health for the rest of the chapter. The extra hearts will disappear when you advance to Chapter 5 though.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Lil tip: In Chapter 4, if you don't mind a bit of a grind, you can keep collecting the Heart Container to max out your health for the rest of the chapter. The extra hearts will disappear when you advance to Chapter 5 though.
Isn't Chapter 4 the one with no combat whatsoever?
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Sounds like what you need is tips and tricks straight from the pros

My first issue of Nintendo Power, actually. I ended up getting older issues after that, but this one was special.

Also, StarTropics is great, and of course this issue had a lot to do with alerting me to it. It does get brutally difficult, but it's also not quite to the level of some of the hardest NES games like Ninja Gaiden III or Battletoads. It still resides in that NES-hard category, though, because I find the last areas (and boss fights) to sometimes be very frustrating - lots of opportunities to get killed very quickly if you're not on your A-game.
 

LBD_Nytetrayn

..and his little cat, too
(He/him)
I absolutely love everything about StarTropics.

...except playing it.

I still want a remake, or a sequel that hews closer to the original.
 

ASandoval

Old Man Gamer
(he/him)
I still want a remake, or a sequel that hews closer to the original.
If I didn't want to make my own titles or make money on games, I would absolutely do 'Super StarTropics' as a fan game that would act as a never released third game on Super Nintendo that would build off of the original game as a base.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I've always thought it would be cool to make a twin-stick version of the game, since you can already attack in a different direction that you are moving in. Not sure whether I would keep the grid-based movement - it's really weird, but also feels unique in a way that I honestly kind of like.
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him)
When I played StarTropics last year I was expecting something like Zelda, based on it's pedigree and perspective. Instead I got a methodical action game with a killer vibe and some adventure game trappings. It was really hard at first, but once I recalibrated my approach and expectations I ended up really liking it!

Also, I remember thinking early on "Mike Jones is kind of a boring protagonist --- somebody should make a hack that swaps him with a girl." I thought it was pretty funny when I got to chapter 3 and the game itself almost answered that request in its entirety.

Surprisingly charming game. (Also a lot less racist than I was expecting considering the setting and that the same team had made Punch Out.)

I tried the sequel for a bit but wasn't really too keen on it. Maybe later idk.
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
Yeah, the sequel is even more YMMV than the original.

Still hoping for a re-imagined StarTropics as well.
 

4-So

False is the dawn that promises anything
Sounds like what you need is tips and tricks straight from the pros

This is the fucking content I'm here for.

I loved StarTropics as a kid despite never getting past that Octopus boss. I should give it another shot.

That also reminds me that I have a CiB copy of StarTropics 2: Zoda's Revenge somewhere in storage that I've never played.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Zoda's Revenge definitely changes things up a bit, but I still like it a ton, and it's still very much StarTropics. Goofy sense of humor, too. And speaking of CIB copies, I remember picking up my CIB copy in EBGames many moons ago for the princely sum of $2. Talk about an absolute steal!
 

Poster

Just some poster
I vaguely recall renting StarTropics back in the day, and since rented games did not come with the manual, I was well and truly screwed...
 

WildcatJF

I will not be stopping
(he / his / him)
I like the original StarTropics a lot. It's a little cranky at times but I applaud its spirit. The soundtracks to both games are super good too, with Zoda's Revenge being one of my favorites on the NES. Shame the gameplay changes really pushed me away from liking it as much. I much prefer the grid movement over the free movement.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Considering that Mike Jones is from Seattle, this is likely the intended referent.
I'd always assumed that it was because NOA was there (or Redmond), but that absolutely makes sense, and is a very cool reference indeed.
 
If I recall correctly, the developers moved to Redmond to make it hoping that would put them in the mindset to make a game that would appeal more to Americans.

I first played this on Wii VC and got about 3/4 through. Years later I watched a YouTube Let's Play and the last one or two dungeons looked like an extreme increase in difficulty from the rest of the game. But I agree that the game's vibe is nice, at least up until that dungeon.

I feel like Secret of Evermore was kind of a spiritual successor to the StarTropics games.
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
If I could change one mechanic about ST, it'd be not having the main weapon depower as you lose health. I understand they were aping's Zelda's full health = sword beams bit, but they went overboard.
 

Beowulf

Let the Mystery Be
(He/Him)
My first issue of Nintendo Power, actually. I ended up getting older issues after that, but this one was special.
It was my third! (Though I also backfilled my collection). Did you also originally sign up for the free copy of Dragon Warrior?

I feel like I've tried to replay Startropics a bunch of times, but I always bounce off a few chapters in. I beat the entire game once back in college, relying heavily on Nintendo Power maps.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
I played through ST1 a bunch as a kid. I'd throw on the Game Genie and invincibility. It was a good difficulty option as it left the map navigation challenge while taking out the main bite of the game (normally, I couldn't get past the skull-ostriches in chapter 3. It was only as an adult I found the trick of leaping over the cross-shapped water in a square pattern). With a Game Genie I could reliably get to the end and I'd do so often to see the incredible-for-the-NES credits.


So wistful, so many graphics.
 
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