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What the heck is on this $10 Retro Game handheld? Let’s find out!

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I've never played any version of Karateka other than the Famicom version, so I don't know how accurate it is, but it does have impressively fluid animation for the time it was released. As I understand, the game is kind of a spiritual predecessor to Prince of Persia, being made by the same guy.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
I've never played any version of Karateka other than the Famicom version, so I don't know how accurate it is, but it does have impressively fluid animation for the time it was released. As I understand, the game is kind of a spiritual predecessor to Prince of Persia, being made by the same guy.
...that makes a lot of sense to me, given the sensibilities of the game and the combat. And the art style, for that matter.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
I apologize if this batch is a little terse. I had my second vaccine shot yesterday and I'm feeling a bit off.



342. LONG JUMP

Yet another single event from Track & Field. What the heck is up with that character?



343. LUNAR POOL

We saw this retitled as Billiard (#101); now here’s the real thing.



344. MACROSS

A side-scrolling shooter, of the more pleasant sort that gives you a life bar. Bu even better, you can transform the ship into two other forms, which shoot faster and slow down the screen scrolling! (They don’t move as fast, but that’s okay by me.)



345. MAGIC BUBBLE

A Nice Code clone of Tetris that’s worse in pretty much every possible way: The blocks are hard to see, the controls are unresponsive, the blocks are very sticky, the music is terrible. This was also released as Bubbles, Russia, Tetris (!!!) and Triple.



346. MAHJONG

It’s another Mahjong game; and I think it’s different from the others we’ve seen before. I still have no idea how to play it.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Macross is, for the time, both one of the better shmups, and also one of the better licensed games on the Famicom.

Without doing proper research on a fully subjective statement, it might also be the FIRST good Shmup and Licensed game on the Famicom
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Macross is, for the time, both one of the better shmups, and also one of the better licensed games on the Famicom.

Without doing proper research on a fully subjective statement, it might also be the FIRST good Shmup and Licensed game on the Famicom

The Zeta Gundam game (HOT SCRAMBLE) is similarly Pretty Good For the Time, but I don't remember which one came out first.
 

Kzinssie

(she/her)


345. MAGIC BUBBLE

A Nice Code clone of Tetris that’s worse in pretty much every possible way: The blocks are hard to see, the controls are unresponsive, the blocks are very sticky, the music is terrible. This was also released as Bubbles, Russia, Tetris (!!!) and Triple.
I love the visual storytelling of this screenshot combined with your description
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Aw yeah, MACROSS. Nice to see that on here!

Also that last one looks like actual Mah-Jong (as opposed to the tile-matching puzzles and such that just use Mah Jong pieces), which has a bunch of complicated hand-scoring rules that there's absolutely no way you'd figure out without a reference.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)


347. MAKING LOVE

Another Battle City hack. I’m not clear on how love is involved. Was Battle City actually popular, or is it just really easy to hack?

348. JOKUL TRIP

Hey, it’s Adventure Island 2! I was just thinking we hadn’t seen any of those in a while.



349. MALUEX

This is the Japanese version of Nuts & Milk (I believe the US version is coming up in a few days). Climb up the ladders, dodge the evil dude, collect all the fruit, then get to the house. (I think the US version has slightly different background colors, but I don't know if there were other changes. Certainly not enough to justify both versions in a "curated" collection.)



350. MAPPY

We saw a hack of this as Bounce (#171); this is the original game.



351. MILLIPEDE

This is another of the arcade games that I think I’m better at than I actually am. It’s a remarkably solid port, though to be fair, I have the Atari 2600 port in my mind as the first version I was exposed to (my friend Jessica had it), and this is indeed much better than that.
 

Kzinssie

(she/her)
Hey, the title screen on Nuts & Milk was hacked to say Mario & Luigi in Japanese! The sprites don't look any different at a glance.
 

WildcatJF

Red After Image
(he / his / him)
Nuts and Milk was never localized for NA, so I'm sure what you have here is just a hack of it (as Kzinssie notes as well). Normally it's got a black background.

Millipede was ported to the Famicom by Hal Labs, along with Joust and Defender II. If my memory serves me it was primarily because Nintendo asked Hal to help them show off the power of the console to Atari, who Nintendo of America was briefly courting as a potential distributor of the NES. Obviously the deal fell through, but Hal did release all three on their own accord later. Notably, they use themes for Nintendo's Punch-Out!! for Defender II, and all use the same title theme that is very similar to Nintendo's own title themes of the period. This is due to the electronic engineer and sound designer being the same for all of the games, Yukio Kaneoka, who probably chipped in a couple tracks to Hal to help them get the games done quickly. The Famicom title screens also mirror the simplistic look of Nintendo's early releases.
 
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Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I love Nuts & Milk. Just as Wildcat mentions, it wasn't localized for the US. But, it has the distinction of being the very first third-party title to be released for the Famicom, coming out in July 1984 a couple days before Hudson's release of Lode Runner and months before Namco joined the party with Galaxian. The fascinating thing to me about these games is how Hudson copied Nintendo's approach to product design. Hudson's packaging was identical, the cartridge labels had a Hudson-flavored spin on Nintendo's iconic "pulse line" effect, and even the instruction manuals were laid out identically to Nintendo's output. In N&M's case, even the game's on-screen information closely resembles games like Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr., with the scores and lives in brackets and a continuously down-ticking bonus.

Eventually the companies diverged in styles, but it's always fascinating to me to see how Hudson carefully blazed new trails in this frontier.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I had no idea that HAL worked on the Millipede port.

Millipede wasn’t something I spent my precious weekend rental on, but the cover was always striking
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)


346. MAHJONG

It’s another Mahjong game; and I think it’s different from the others we’ve seen before. I still have no idea how to play it.
This isn't just any Mahjong game, this is the one Nintendo themselves made. The Vs. System version is available as part of the Switch's Arcade Archives series.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)


352. MINER1

This is a Nice Code game, in which you’re trying to find the path that clears the most squares without getting stuck. (You have limited shovels to clear the “block” squares.) Apparently the original version of this was called Assart and was problematically racist, featuring a black man effectively doing plantation work. They clearly got the message and changed him to a miner instead. Along with Assart, this was also released as Crystal, Pathway, and Radish Field.



353. MOTOBOAT

This is a Nice Code hack of Awful Rushing, using the same basic engine but (among other things) making the character a motorboat. In this version, you have limited lives (and start at the beginning whenever you hit something) but need to collect as many medals as you can before you run out of fuel.



354. NAITOU9

I think this is actually a variant of Chess, but it’s all in a language I don’t know and I also don’t know the rules. Some internet research revealed the game is called Honshogi: Naitou Kudan Shogi Hiden, and it is indeed a Japanese Chess variant.



355. NIBBLES

A very basic Snakes game. The Bootleg wiki claims it’s a homebrew game by Damian Yerrick.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I always thought Snake was the Oreo to Nibbles’ Hydrox

Also, forgot to mention it yesterday, but while it’s hardly the wildest name we’ve seen on this thing on its own merits, “Making Love” is a bonkers choice for a Battle City hack. And I’m retroactively kind of surprised at how little representation Battle City has gotten over the years given it’s apparent popularity; there’s only been two games and neither of them came out outside of Japan beyond multicarts and more recent Obscure Namco Compilations
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Hah, yeah, wasn't Nibbles an old Mac freeware game? Given the Apple logos you're eating and all...
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him)
Damian Yerrick is an interesting fellow, and one of the pillars of the NES homebrew community. He's made other, more sophisticated games like Thwaite (a Missile Command clone), RHDE (a Rampart derivative), and a port of robotfindskitten that has a very impressive variable width font implementation. More recently he was hired as a coder for Haunted Halloween 85/86.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)


345. MAGIC BUBBLE

A Nice Code clone of Tetris that’s worse in pretty much every possible way: The blocks are hard to see, the controls are unresponsive, the blocks are very sticky, the music is terrible. This was also released as Bubbles, Russia, Tetris (!!!) and Triple.

Is... this a non-porn version of Bubble Bath Babes?
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
Hah, yeah, wasn't Nibbles an old Mac freeware game? Given the Apple logos you're eating and all...
My first exposure to Snakes was the QBASIC version that I had on a dos-based PC circa 1991. This article claims Snake originated with the 1976 arcade game Blockade.

Damian Yerrick is an interesting fellow, and one of the pillars of the NES homebrew community. He's made other, more sophisticated games like Thwaite (a Missile Command clone), RHDE (a Rampart derivative), and a port of robotfindskitten that has a very impressive variable width font implementation. More recently he was hired as a coder for Haunted Halloween 85/86.
It's really fascinating which games got snagged to include in this device, isn't it? And we'll never know if it was pulled at random or if somebody particularly liked it; or what stage of copying multicarts onto other multicarts it entered on. I mean, the touchgameplayer logo was hacked onto Nibbles!

Is... this a non-porn version of Bubble Bath Babes?
Having now looked that game up...I don't think they're related. And honestly, Bubble Bath Babes seems much higer-quality.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)



356. NIGHT ARROW

This is a hack of Galaxian that presents you with a level-select and lives-select screen before you start, which is actually a really nice addition!



357. NINJA2

A top-down, stage-based fighting game where you throw weapons at other ninjas who run in. You also collect little tokens and eventually touch a spinning clown to finish the stage and earn a bonus letter.

I had some real trouble figuring out what game this could be, but eventually figured out it was Ikki (aka Farmer’s Rebellion) and what you’re throwing is sickles. You’re trying to gather gold coins or capture a feudal lord to finish each level. That makes more sense than what I came up with, really.



358. BITHA

You’re the dude in the little contraption on the right, and you need to shoot the parachutes of the guys jumping into the river before they reach the bottom. The pink ones shoot back. If you miss one, they’ll climb onto those green ladders and try to jump out at you. In the second stage, they float up instead of down. Apparently a hack of Pooyan, which I’m otherwise unfamiliar with.



359. NINJA KUN

This is Ninja Kun: Majou no Bouken (aka Ninja Kid), which we first saw a hack of as Combata (#287). The original makes it MUCH easier to tell what’s a platform and what isn’t.



360. NUTS MILK

As noted when we first saw it at #349, this is the actual Nuts & Milk, which I have been thoroughly schooled on the specifics of. My other questions are more general, like: Why the heck is it called that? Who looked at these colored blobs and thought, “Nuts should be stopping Milk from meeting up with his girlfriend Yogurt?”
 

Kzinssie

(she/her)
Ikki! That's a legendary kusoge in Japan, and a game I got a copy of for like $3 when I saw it in a retro store.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Ikki also recently got a homage in Blaster Master Zero 2, where it was the basis of an entire planet.

Weird source of inspiration for the bouncing space-tank game
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
Pooyan was always my favorite of the countless cruddy arcade conversions my older brother had pirated onto his C64. Simple almost space invaders style shooter but a very creative setting.

You are shooting down wolves using balloons to parachute down to sneak behind you and bite you or float up to help their buddies push a rock onto your head depending on the board.
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him)
Ikki also recently got a homage in Blaster Master Zero 2, where it was the basis of an entire planet.
imho the weirdest part of this is that Inti Creates decided the boss of that planet should be taken from Atlantis no Nazo.

Absolutely baffling levels of Sunsoftian syncretism in that game (I love it).
 

Kzinssie

(she/her)
Ikki looks really cool. Surprised I've never heard of it.
Bad news! It's pretty awful, at least the Famicom version. The big problem is that the screen doesn't scroll until you're literal pixels away from the edge, so it's almost impossible to see what's coming.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Yep, Ikki is kusoge, but I've enjoyed a few minutes with it here and there. A successful run takes less than 10 minutes, so it's a nice micro-challenge if you feel like learning the game's idiosyncrasies.
 
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