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

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Man, I haven't thought about Pac-Land in a long time. For a moment I was assuming it was an inspiration for the saturday-morning cartoon version I vaguely remember, but I just looked it up and apparently it's the other way around - the Pac Land game was actually based on the cartoon, which was itself just loosely extrapolated from the original games.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)


413. ONYANKO TOWN

You’re running like crazy through the town, and your only defense against crazy dogs killing you is jumping over them and opening manholes (the yellow circles) for them to fall into. This is an arcade-style maze game, but Hardcore Gaming 101 has a great article on why it’s a standout example of the genre.

Ha, that reminds me: I bought a bootleg Famicom multicart in Arizona once, saved it for a stream to do an abbreviated version of what you're doing now and... it was literally just Onyanko Town. The label indicates that it's a multicart, but... nope. Just Onyanko Town.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)


417. PANZER FLY CAR

Racing and car-dodging. It’s another hack of Road Fighter (#371), and that doesn’t seem to change much.



418. PAPERBOY

The NES version of this is harder than the arcade mostly because it’s harder to tell what’s an obstacle and what isn’t. It occurs to me to wonder if this job actually exists anywhere anymore—heck, even when I was a kid, my parents’ newspapers were delivered by an adult in a car.



419. PEEK A BOO POKER

1-on-1, five-card poker games against woman with saucy names; and you get a cheesecake picture of them for each $1000 you win. Apparently one of only three “pornographic” games made for the NES, though I’m pretty sure any of the reward pictures could be shown on TV nowadays.



420. CRYPT CAR

Dig Dug hack starring spinys and a…tank, maybe? This is an Inventor hack; I think we’ve seen a few others in this collection.



421. PENGUIN KUN WARS

Some kind of dodgeball game, starring penguins. This was released in the US for the Game Boy (as Penguin Wars), but I have no memory of it.



422. CUTE FISH

Some kind of fishing game by Nice Code, with very odd choices for bait and some unusual fish (snakes, hippos and sharks popped up a lot). This was also released as Antiquarium, Fishing, and Magic Pond.
 
This thread went on way longer than I ever would have expected.
Pac-Land is mystifying on the Fami/NES, because you remember how great Super Mario Bros. looked on the system in 1985, expect the same high fidelity from Namco's similar game, and you instead get... whatever this is.


I have it on Namco Museum Archives Volume 2, and I've played it before in emulation, and it's just the sorriest damn thing you can imagine. Tiny characters, weird control, aggressively repeated tiles... if it weren't for the smooth scrolling it might look like it had been written for the ColecoVision or MSX instead.

As for Onyanko Town, I'm torn between the cute concept (cartoon cats saving cartoon kittens from cartoon dogs!) and the fact that it's by Micronics and Pony Canyon. The former is not quite enough to forgive the latter.
 
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Kzinssie

(she/her)
Those spinies in Crypt Car look very familiar. I feel like I've seen them as the head-part on an enemy in some NES game that uses paper doll animation. Kirby, maybe? Joy Mecha Fight?
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
Pac-Land is mystifying on the Fami/NES, because you remember how great Super Mario Bros. looked on the system in 1985, expect the same high fidelity from Namco's similar game, and you instead get... whatever this is.
I have it on Namco Museum Archives Volume 2, and I've played it before in emulation, and it's just the sorriest damn thing you can imagine. Tiny characters, weird control, aggressively repeated tiles... if it weren't for the smooth scrolling it might look like it had been written for the ColecoVision or MSX instead.
It's in no way arcade perfect, but given the cartridge limitations of the time I don't think it's too bad visually? Like, the game definitely should've kept the black outlines but other than that it looks pretty good for a release dealing with 1985 Famicom cartridge limitations. And the audio is definitely good.

Shame about the controls, though. Does the Switch collection at least allow remapping to something more sensible?
 
Met: Long time no see. Er, anyway... I'm not finding any way to change the controls on my Switch Lite. There is a controller setting in options, but it tells you to press L and R on your controller of choice, and doing that with the Switch Lite gives you a disapproving shake of the screen. Okay, okay! I'll settle for the crap controls... don't scold me!

I could try it on my big Switch, I guess. Or connect the M30 to my little Switch. Decisions, decisions...
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Pac-Land is mystifying on the Fami/NES, because you remember how great Super Mario Bros. looked on the system in 1985, expect the same high fidelity from Namco's similar game, and you instead get... whatever this is.

It's not mystifying. The FC port of Pac-Land came out a scant two months after Super Mario Brothers, but it's important to consider that the arcade version predates SMB by a year, and was indeed one of the earliest examples of a side-scrolling platformer, prefiguring not just Mario but stuff like Ghosts 'n Goblins. It's awkward because it's a trailblazer - later games utilize toolsets created by these early games. Pac-Man walked so Mario could run.

Also, the FC was fairly primitive in terms of its computing power. Nearly every arcade-to-FC port from that era removes content or reduces sprite size. You could say Donkey Kong lacks fidelity, because it's missing a whole stage. Yet it was the best home port of the game at the time. Similarly true for Pac-Land. You wouldn't find a better home version of the game until it showed up on PC Engine a few years later. It's good for its time, even if it's not super pleasant to play now.

Meanwhile, SMB represents the absolute best the FC could do with its base hardware, and has the benefit of being created from the ground-up expressly for the FC. It's not exactly fair to compare the two.

The NES version of this is harder than the arcade mostly because it’s harder to tell what’s an obstacle and what isn’t. It occurs to me to wonder if this job actually exists anywhere anymore—heck, even when I was a kid, my parents’ newspapers were delivered by an adult in a car.

I worked at a small-town newspaper in the early 2010s, and I can confirm that paperboys were not a thing. Adults deliver the paper in vans. And boy did we ever get calls when someone missed a house...
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
I don't see how a van could navigate past a breakdancer any better than a bike
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Even if the house was experiencing a tornado, or haunted by Death Itself?

Death himself couldn't stop some 80-year-old from calling our office on a saturday to yell at me that John Vandriver missed his house for the third time this year and he's gonna cancel his subscription if we don't get our shit together.
 
I don't think I can be pragmatic about Famicom Pac-Land. I dislike the port that much. All I can really say is that I don't blame Bandai and Namco (which are now just Bandai-Namco, interestingly) for stranding it in Japan, because it would have been thin gruel next to Super Mario Bros., which NES owners had from the moment they opened the box. It wouldn't have worked later on either, mirroring the Hydlide situation when FCI unwisely released a Famicom game from 1986 in 1989.

I think the TurboGrafx-16 got Pac-Land when the system was launched in 1989, which was still too late, but at least it was close to arcade perfect and had a more familiar button configuration for fans of platformers.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Pac-Land is an amazing-looking game in the arcade and the Famicom port stays really ingeniously authentic to its aesthetic in ways that don't just replicate the original look but make it work the best in the limited tilesets available to the Famicom at that stage in its life. Dismissing it out of hand for not comparing to The Most Important Game of All Time (and I think it looks more appealing visually anyway) is so weird.
 

Kzinssie

(she/her)
I don't think Famicom Pac-Land looks super great but Super Mario Bros doesn't either. It took a solid couple of years for people to figure out how to make Famicom graphics not look weird and blobby
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
I don't have that much problem with how Pac-Land looks (it's a strikingly different style from most other NES stuff, looking more like a home computer game, which is at least interesting), but the gameplay looks really weird. Half that video is spent pushing unassuming level elements slightly to make collectibles appear out of nowhere - even if that's just bonus points rather than something required, it's pretty odd and seems like it'd take a lot of boring trial and error if you're trying to find them. Also featured are some of the weirdest springboard physics I've ever seen in a game.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)


423. PINBALL II


I’m not certain, but I think this is a hack of the Pinball game (#365) we already saw. It only seems to be one screen; or at least if there’s an upper screen, I can’t get the ball up to it.



424. PINDABLE

A Nice Code Nature Clan game that’s actually more complicated than it seems at first: You need to run around collecting green balls while avoiding caltrops, fireballs and Pac-men. But the levels are different, and later levels add flippers and spinners you can use to avoid and redirect enemies, trapping them behind walls or just moving them away from you. The full name is Pindable Crystal Ball, and it was also released as Adventurer and Worm Dream.



425. PIPE DREAM

Lay pipes into as far of a network as you can before the flooz oozes out; and you get points for however long a run you managed to make. You can replace pipes only until they fill with flooz. The original was called Pipe Mania, Lucasfilm Games changed the name when they ported it.



426. PIZZA BOY

You need to run between the pizza store and various customers who appear, shout “Pizza!” and turn into glowing circles. You have a time limit for each pizza, and a certain number you need to deliver in each level. The movement isn’t actually grid-based, so it’s easy to get stuck trying to turn a corner. Also, the various roadblocks and hazards move around randomly and spontaneously. A Nice Code game also released as Hen and Sons or Merry Christmas.



427. PLANTS VS ZOMB

A clone of the mobile game. You collect little orange balls for currency, then spend them to fill your garden with blockers, shooters and rocks to stop the zombies who flood in. Clear enough, and you’ll reach the next level. (irritatingly, it doesn’t have a pause function.) Entertainingly, this was made by Nice Code as well!

Did you know there was a Crappy Games Wiki? I didn’t until I found this entry. (It’s not actually very funny and they have a lousy selection of actually bad games.)
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him)
My mom doesn't play very many videogames, but Pipe Dream was always one of her favorites. I remember digging the NES out several years ago and trying that game out, and before we knew it she was once again hooked.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
I'm guessing there has to be something amiss with it (even if it's just NES controls being no substitute for a mouse/touchscreen, 8-bit limitations not being able to handle larger hordes, and/or MIA content), but 8-bit demake of PvZ sounds like a pretty cool concept.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
I'm guessing there has to be something amiss with it (even if it's just NES controls being no substitute for a mouse/touchscreen, 8-bit limitations not being able to handle larger hordes, and/or MIA content), but 8-bit demake of PvZ sounds like a pretty cool concept.
It's good for a lark, but honestly there just isn't enough to it to keep your interest. There are a handful of units, all available at the beginning, several of them totally useless. So you click around, set up shooters and blocks, and just kinda watch. It's neither frantic nor strategic enough. I suspect a programmer who really cared could put together a really strong PvZ demake, but this isn't really there.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)


428. POKER AV

This appears to be a second copy of Peek-a-boo Poker (#419).



429. POLICE DOG

A memory game by Nice Code. The robber comes on the scene and buries a bunch of evidence, but also some bombs. As the police dog, you need to find all the evidence, but digging up a bomb costs you a life. Also released as Sleuth.



430. POLICE VS THIEF

I love that the full title is Police vs Thief: Violent Chasing. It’s not violent at all. You’re the blue police car, and you need to maneuver through the maze streets (which loop at the screen borders) and catch the thief. The tricky part is that you can’t U-turn or back up. If you get the guy, “CATCH OUT” flashes on the screen. Also by Nice Code, also released as Cell Competition and Monster Hunter.



431. POLK

Polk is a badly-made, janky pinball game. It’s by Nice Code, and was also released as Pinball. (I don’t think we’ve seen it before, though.)



432. PONG PONG

A bumper cars game by Nice Code. You can’t stop moving, but hitting an enemy results in both of you randomly changing direction. You need to get them into the holes in the corners while avoiding falling in yourself. The hitboxes don’t match the edges of the cars, and controls are odd—you can only turn left and right, not actually steer. Also released as Afoul, Autoboat Contest, Bump, and Ramming.
 
That Polk game looks a lot like Pinball for the Intellivision, and I believe the game was ported to an Intellivision plug and play system that was really running on Famicom hardware. Are there any other games on this system that may have first debuted on the Intellivision plug and play system?
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
That Polk game looks a lot like Pinball for the Intellivision, and I believe the game was ported to an Intellivision plug and play system that was really running on Famicom hardware. Are there any other games on this system that may have first debuted on the Intellivision plug and play system?
Nice Code did a lot of Atari and Intellivision ports. Astrosmash is another example we saw a couple of times, as Air Alert and Cannonade.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Each and every Nice Code game has the best title. It's going to be impossible to pick a favorite once this is over.
 
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