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Tonight I Will Play a Licensed Video Game of Your Choice

Not being able to grapple as precisely as one brain hopes does disappoint. But it is so cool and fun and I bet you made a save state so you could try the "swing underneath the stage to get to the secret" as many times as you wanted.

The Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts influence in those bosses and just the general visuals is a cool treat that is hard to miss. I wonder how much I picked up on it as a kid, because I don't recall making the connection even though I was enamored with SGnG back then. Does the Nintendo Power issue call out the final boss as a reference, I wonder?

I remember revisiting Magical Quest last decade and enjoyed it as much as you did. I did mess around with a second Hard playthrough, and I mostly just remember that the first boss (Pete Arremer) drags on so much that I would prefer not playing 'Hard' again, despite appreciating the added difficulty elsewhere.
 
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Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Does Pete ever elaborate on the nature of cursing Pluto? Because if not, its still high stakes but also vague ones.

NOPE. In fact, the wizard who warns Mickey of the stakes stops showing up after stage two or three, and you never see him again, and there's no dialogue between Mickey and Pete, so it's all up to your head-canon.

What was your game, mysterious wizard!?

Not being able to grapple as precisely as one brain hopes does disappoint. But it is so cool and fun and I bet you made a save state so you could try the "swing underneath the stage to get to the secret" as many times as you wanted.

The Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts influence in those bosses and just the general visuals is a cool treat that is hard to miss. I wonder how much I picked up on it as a kid, because I don't recall making the connection even though I was enamored with SGnG back then. Does the Nintendo Power issue call out the final boss as a reference, I wonder?

I remember revisiting Magical Quest last decade and enjoyed it as much as you did. I did mess around with a second Hard playthrough, and I mostly just remember that the first boss (Pete Arremer) drags on so much that I would prefer not playing 'Hard' again, despite appreciating the added difficulty elsewhere.

You're totally correct about the grapple being cool and fun. Even though it was a little frustrating, it still feels good, and the sound effects are just the perfect level of crunch. However, I made no save states, because I'm playing on original console (but I assure you I died as many times as it took for me to get that under-the-stage secret).

Save for the brief mention of the nice graphics and over-too-soon game length, the Nintendo Power coverage is entirely free of editorialization. Their blurb on Pete just gives you a couple sentences on what the boss does.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Man, I loved Magical Quest as a kid. It's nice to know as an adult that it was actually a good game instead of something I loved because of Stockholm syndrome! I remember my dad brought it home and surprised me with it one day, which is something that never really happened -- new games either came after saving my money for a long time, or as birthday presents. I played this game enough that I knew where all the secrets were, and I could even do the "grapple under the stage" bit consistently. When I look at dosboot's gif I can actually hear the wind coming through those gaps.

Also, I'm pretty sure the final costume is meant to be an old-timey mountaineering outfit instead of Robin Hood.
 

Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
Well, damn, now I can't see it as anything other than a Disney-themed Super Ghouls & Ghosts, but even worse I want a Super Goofs & Ghosts where you play a medieval knight Goofy.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
By the way, any of y'all who've had your suggestion played, feel free to suggest something new for the list!
 

Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
If you're fine with translation patches, the Violinist of Hameln (no, that's not a typo) SNES platformer from Enix.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Thanks folks! I can also more or less read Japanese, so I'm fine with a game with no translation patch at all!
 

Destil

DestilG
(he/him)
Staff member
Friday the 13th (NES).

A lot of the inscrutable games of my youth I’ve come to a better understanding of, but I still have no clue what the deal with that one is (I suspect it’s just not very good).
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
It's definitely more inscrutable than bad; it's straight up one of the more ambitious games on the platform, but it presents itself so unintuitively, and far afield from what someone might expect from a Friday the 13th video game that it wound up being hated.

Plus Cussing Youtubers made a swear about it, so now that's all that anyone thinks about with it
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
If you're fine with translation patches, the Violinist of Hameln (no, that's not a typo) SNES platformer from Enix.
Yeah, that's a really good one - I played through it earlier this year and really enjoyed it. A word of warning, though: there's no save feature in the game that I could see, and it will take you some time to get through. My playthrough clocked in at 3+ hours total, so... save states?
 
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Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Friday the 13th (NES).

A lot of the inscrutable games of my youth I’ve come to a better understanding of, but I still have no clue what the deal with that one is (I suspect it’s just not very good).

This and Elm St. have been on my to-play list for a long dang time. But, it's ineligible for this thread since I'm only doing 16-bit systems. At some point I may finally get an NES everdrive, but for now, feel free to suggest something else!
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
Friday the 13th (NES).

A lot of the inscrutable games of my youth I’ve come to a better understanding of, but I still have no clue what the deal with that one is (I suspect it’s just not very good).

I'm an apologist for this game. It's not fantastic, but it's better than it gets credit for, and if you don't mind using a walkthrough to find one or two of the better items/weapons, it's pretty fun (but short). If you want a non-swearing YouTuber take, I talked about it for Halloween in 2017 (also featuring Kim Justice explaining the microcomputer version). As I mention in my video, one of my favorite things is how little most of the swearing YouTubers seem to have just lifted from James Rolfe when they swear about it, too, because they all mention the same handful of gripes and never talk about perfectly legit gripes like "you can't attack while jumping" and "Jason in the lake is bullshit because there's no way to avoid him." It's all just "lol, no characters from the movies, and the map doesn't work the way I want it to, even though it's not actually hard to get how the map works at all!"

This and Elm St. have been on my to-play list for a long dang time. But, it's ineligible for this thread since I'm only doing 16-bit systems. At some point I may finally get an NES everdrive, but for now, feel free to suggest something else!

Elm St. is eminently more playable than Friday. It also has a fantastic David Wise soundtrack and is, notably, the only 4-player side-scroller on the NES. (The four-player is maybe a bit too chaotic to be fun, though.)
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)

Violinist of Hameln (Super Famicom)


Violinist of Hameln is a side-scrolling action/puzzle game published by Enix for the Super Famicom in 1995. The cosmos decided that I go to right to @Zef 's next choice, so here we are! And I'm super glad it did. This game was a delight.

What it's All About

This game ties into a manga and anime of the same name, featuring a selfish and greedy bard by the name of Hamel who is on his way north to the kingdom of Hameln. Along the way, he uses his magical violin to save the village of Staccato from some monsters. As payment, he abducts a villager named Flute, then heads on his way. Hamel is also accompanied by a talking crow named Oboe. The game follows Hamel, Flute, and Oboe on their journey through several kingdoms, each one with a problem that Hamel wants to ignore but Flute wants to solve.

This game had no release on the SNES, and apparently none of either the manga or anime has reached the west in any official capacity.

How it Works



You control Hamel, who can run around with the d-Pad, jump with B, and play his violin with the A button. Hamel can also duck and climb ladders. Playing his violin emits a wobbly music note which flies across the screen and damages any enemy it touches. Hamel just has to advance from left to right in each stage and defeat a boss at the end of each kingdom.

But wait, there's more! Hamel is also accompanied by Flute, who follows him wherever he goes. Hamel's success in each level hinges on actions he can perform in conjunction with Flute. Flute can climb ladders and hoist herself over one-block-high elevations. By pressing the X button, Flute stands in the same place, and by pressing it again, she starts following Hamel (as indicated by the flashing "CALL" text over Oboe's head). He can also stand on her head. More dramatically, by pressing Y, Hamel can pick up Flute, and by pressing it again, he can hurl her across the screen. Flute is a deadly projectile, typically more powerful than Hamel's music, and she can also be tossed into certain walls to destroy them.

Hamel starts with a four-heart life bar, which can be increased, but Flute has the same two-hit lifebar throughout the game. Hamel can't clear a stage unless Flute is with him. Now I hear you saying, Drac, Drac! We all hate escort missions, Drac. Well, here's the nice thing - Flute is never really in danger. After taking two hits, Flute becomes visibly frustrated (both in her animation and her little portrait icon), but the only game effect is that you earn no coins for tossing her at foes, and you don't get a bonus star for finishing the stage.

Throughout the stages, Hamel can find coins (for buying items in towns: each map has a unique town); fruit (for health); stars (to enter end-stage bonus areas); notes (to increase his attacking strength); hats (granting a 1-UP); and big hearts (increase maximum life). There are also colored keys which correspond to certain level exits. Every stage is a challenge of figuring out where to position Hamel and Flute to proceed, calling to mind things like The Lost Vikings.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S EVEN MORE!

Hidden throughout the game (usually in areas that can't be missed) are icons which give Flute a new costume. By pressing the start button, you access a sub-screen where you can choose Flute's costume. Each of these gives her a special ability. For example, the first one, an ostrich, can walk over spikes. The second one, a frog, jumps high when Hamel stands on it. There's a whole buffet of costumes, ranging from animals to things like bombs, UFOs, frisbees, and curling irons. And despite Flute's obvious annoyance at having to wear them, they're absolutely essential to proceed.

A few of the most powerful costumes either have to be purchased from a town or found hidden in stages, but the majority are funny-shaped keys which the game teaches you to use through gameplay after you pick up each one.

How It Feels

You know that feeling when you put the cap back on a marker and it fits perfectly together and there's the most beautiful little snap? And you just want to pop the cap back off and snap it back together for eternity? That's how this game feels. I felt that level of satisfaction every time I picked a new costume from the menu, or zapped an enemy with a music note, or heard the soft "tap" of Hamel's boots on a block. The interface in this game just sings, in a way similar to a lot of first-party Nintendo titles.

And this being a SFC title from 1995, there's plenty of graphical flourish, mainly in lots of background depth and some sprite morphing. And oh! Music!


It's very good. There's lots of adaptation of classical pieces as well.

What I Played

The whole thing. The game is only four maps long (each featuring 5-6 stages), and has no save/password to speak of, so I figured I might as well do it all. I'm so glad I did. I had such a good time.

Would I Play More?

After the credits roll, there's not much else to do, but the game does teach you a couple of secret button input techniques which you can use during any playthrough. Also, I didn't translate all of the text, opting for more of a "gist" experience, so I'm sure I'd enjoy playing again and paying a bit more attention to all the story stuff. It's all seems to fall pretty well into typical adventure anime tropes, though. And hey, there's no undue perving (that I could discern), which is always a plus for a thing of the era. Although the game's whole engine relies on using a girl as a literal platform, so...well, I'll let the readers make up their minds on that one.

No matter what, this is a game worth checking out, and there's an English patch, so you don't have to half-ignore the story like I did. Boot up that emulator!
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Oh, nice, well done getting through in one sitting. How long did it take you to finish off?

I'll second that recommendation. Definitely give it a go, y'all!
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
Darn, I missed the Friday the 13th chat. I’ll go to bat for that jank any day of the week.

Day 3 Jason is no fun if you have any sort of input lag. Torch or no torch.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Oh, nice, well done getting through in one sitting. How long did it take you to finish off?

I started it yesterday and pulled the very old school trick of "leaving the SNES on overnight." The longplay on YT clocks in at around 2:30, and since I didn't play perfectly, I'd guess my playthrough was around three hours.
 
I've never heard of this game but it looks really fun.

The trailer for the anime looks much more intense than the game though, lasers from castle walls is quite a thing.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I started it yesterday and pulled the very old school trick of "leaving the SNES on overnight." The longplay on YT clocks in at around 2:30, and since I didn't play perfectly, I'd guess my playthrough was around three hours.
Yeah, that sounds reasonable. I was wondering if you'd done it in one run - I don't have a lot of three hour play sessions in me these days. It took me 3h30m earlier this year, and I only know this because I was on the SNES Classic.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
apparently none of either the manga or anime has reached the west in any official capacity.
I couldn't find anything online to support this, but I am confident that I saw episodes of this on Canadian television as a kid. That said, it may have been a French-language version?
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(They/them)
This game sounds delightful from your descriptions of it, but like, am I missing a joke in the source material? Because that's pretty clearly a cello or double-bass that Hamel is using and not a violin! That thing is way too big to be a violin.
 

Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
Glad you enjoyed it, @Dracula! Also, I forget exactly how to trigger it, but if you fire off music at Flute herself, she shoots off into a superpowered frenzy all over the screen like a super saiyan pinball. It's powerful but very situational.

The trailer for the anime looks much more intense than the game though, lasers from castle walls is quite a thing.

The manga and anime for Violinist of Hameln are quite different beasts. Both of them have the same general structure--there's a fairly complex and involved backstory connecting the characters and their fantasy world--but while the manga swings wildly from irreverent gags and self-parody to brutal seriousness, the anime decided to go full-on dramatic, excising a lot of the humor and reworking some of the characters' personalities to fit the new tone.

(Manga Hamel is an asshole, plain and simple. The manga is extremely '90s, and 80% of its humor is based around him being a complete and total dick to his friends, his loved ones, and random people off the street. Sooooo yeah, it's a problematic recommendation in 2020+.)

The movie and the game are much more comedic and lighthearted takes on the concept, so they're much easier recommendations. The anime was also made with just enough of a budget to buy a weekly cup of instant ramen, leading to its nickname of "The Slideshow of Hameln."

This game sounds delightful from your descriptions of it, but like, am I missing a joke in the source material? Because that's pretty clearly a cello or double-bass that Hamel is using and not a violin! That thing is way too big to be a violin.

Oh, they make note of that plenty of times in the source. And his mother, whom he inherited it from, actually did play it like a cello. Him swinging it onto his shoulder and playing it as a violin is part of his signature gag.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I couldn't find anything online to support this, but I am confident that I saw episodes of this on Canadian television as a kid. That said, it may have been a French-language version?

The GameFAQs guide I looked at briefly DID mention an English dub of the OVA, so perhaps this does exist, and is obscure as hell?

This game sounds delightful from your descriptions of it, but like, am I missing a joke in the source material? Because that's pretty clearly a cello or double-bass that Hamel is using and not a violin! That thing is way too big to be a violin.

Yeah, like Zef says, it's kind of a running joke in the original story...also, there are other characters with totally absurd musical instruments. Toward the end of the game, you meet Raiel, a childhood friend of Hamel. He carries around a solid gold piano on his back.

Glad you enjoyed it, @Dracula! Also, I forget exactly how to trigger it, but if you fire off music at Flute herself, she shoots off into a superpowered frenzy all over the screen like a super saiyan pinball. It's powerful but very situational.

Yes! This is one of the two special techniques the game shows you after the credits roll. You have to do a full D-Pad circle in one of two directions before hitting the A button. The other technique is doing a quarter-circle forward before throwing Flute, which sends her in a straight line across the scream (she normally goes in a gentle arc). I replayed the first stage to try out both of these techniques.
 
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