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

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
And how to get a SECRET LASER WEAPON.
That is one wild-ass code. And including a weapon that's not even normally in the game? Seems like it must be some sort of developer test mode with features that got dropped.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
That is one wild-ass code. And including a weapon that's not even normally in the game? Seems like it must be some sort of developer test mode with features that got dropped.

The video is somewhat wrong - you CAN get the laser power-up in the game, but the way you do it is almost as obscure as the crazy input code. You have to fire at a specific spot in stage 6 while holding Select, then keep firing at that spot until the laser symbol pops up. I wouldn't be surprised if nobody in the western hemisphere had discovered this thing at the time the video was made.

There's another hidden power-up, a finger meant to represent Master Takahashi's 16-shot thumb, which you can only get in stage 3 by yelling into the Famicom microphone.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Man. It's no wonder kids on the playground kept coming up with totally implausible video game secrets when the things that actually got put *in* games from this era were twice as crazy.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
I have no regrets leaving Photobucket behind for Imgur years ago.

Honestly, if not for the fact that I've got 10,000 images linked to there from various other places (and I'd need to re-do every single one of those links), I'd have abandoned them years ago. At least they seem to have fixed the problem.

Man. It's no wonder kids on the playground kept coming up with totally implausible video game secrets when the things that actually got put *in* games from this era were twice as crazy.

Have you read the Archive LP of Final Fantasy 6 that involves getting all sorts of characters into your party by playing 6 hours of the game without saving, repeatedly?
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)


481. WISDOM MARIO

Wrecking Crew! This is the seventh time we’ve seen it.



482. ANGEL

A Nice Code Galaga clone, despite the different trappings. If your angel gets hit, he cries rather than exploding. The bootleg wiki thinks Angel is a clone of Kaboom that we first saw as Care Bear (#240), but it’s clearly not. My guess is that it’s a hack of Fire Base (#10).



483. FIGHTER

This is another similar Nice Code title, though it feels much more like Millipede: The little fish all move to the top row, then pause, then move down to a second row, etc. as you try to shoot them. Apparently it’s hacked from Nice Code’s port of Buzz Bombers, an Intellivision game I wasn’t familiar with. It was also released as Archer, Hexadod, IQ Champion, Little Indian, Man in Red, Orchard Kavass, Scuba Hunt, Sniper, and Weald Gunman.



484. SURFG SPORT

This is actually snowboarding, rather than surfing, though on the weirdest damn mountain you’ve ever seen. (Anybody else remember Paladin’s Quest/Lennus and the weird art style from that? I’m reminded of it.) This was a hack of Nice Code’s port of U.S. Ski Team Skiing (another Intellivision game), and was also released as Skiing and Surfer.



485. TC SURF DESIGN

This..is a badly-made tie-in game? From a surfboard company? The ramps to jump the first hole don’t seem to work, so I think the game might be impossible.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I was never able to last more than two seconds in the surfing game, and the skateboard one was a poor substitute for thr Battletoads Turbo Tunnel. It may have been the single worst NES game Tiny Octo owned. And I had Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

You would think a game based on a Surf/skateboard company would be able to be a quarter-way decent job at one of those two activities.
 
I got a few chuckles out of T&C's skateboarding segment, but Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde provided me with nothing but irritation. I'm half-convinced it wasn't designed as a game, but rather a psychological stress test, like the infamous Polybius. How much bullshit can YOU take before you rip the cartridge out of the NES and smash it with your heel?

I'm still annoyed that when Seanbaby wrote his twenty worst NES games of all time list, Mighty Bomb Jack was listed but THIS wasn't. Mighty Bomb Jack is just an obtuse action/adventure extension of an arcade game that is pretty rewarding once you get used to the granular jumping controls. Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde is a turd your cat stealthily dropped in your shoe when you weren't looking.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
So I guess this is where I drop the hot take that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde isn't that bad? (I mean, it's not good, but I actually don't hate it.)
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
It very much wasn’t the kind of game that benefited from using a Game Genie for infinite health, let me tell you that much.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
The video is somewhat wrong - you CAN get the laser power-up in the game, but the way you do it is almost as obscure as the crazy input code. You have to fire at a specific spot in stage 6 while holding Select, then keep firing at that spot until the laser symbol pops up. I wouldn't be surprised if nobody in the western hemisphere had discovered this thing at the time the video was made.

There's another hidden power-up, a finger meant to represent Master Takahashi's 16-shot thumb, which you can only get in stage 3 by yelling into the Famicom microphone.

That is bananas. Does that mean there's no way to get it in the US version?

Man. It's no wonder kids on the playground kept coming up with totally implausible video game secrets when the things that actually got put *in* games from this era were twice as crazy.

That video has some other weird ones that involve needing a friend to hold buttons on the second controller before you even power the system on for the codes to work.

Man, I miss cheat codes.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
485. TC SURF DESIGN

This..is a badly-made tie-in game? From a surfboard company? The ramps to jump the first hole don’t seem to work, so I think the game might be impossible.
I think you're supposed to hold back and jump to use the ramps (or something like that).
I got a few chuckles out of T&C's skateboarding segment
Same here.
How much bullshit can YOU take before you rip the cartridge out of the NES and smash it with your heel?
I have never played Dr. J* & Mr. H but I think the NES game that frustrated me the most was the port of Might & Magic.

* No, not that one.

Man, I miss cheat codes.
Same here.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
I think the NES game that frustrated me the most was the port of Might & Magic.
Even when they were adapted for Japanese markets* the 80s cRPGs like Might & Magic and Wizardry have their difficulty set at "Throw The Player Directly Into The Lion's Den". I picked up The Bard's Tale (Hack 'n Slash) years ago on mobile 'cuz it came with The Bard's Tale trilogy of cRPGs and I didn't last long 'cuz the beginning of the game is extremely brutal.

* Pretty much all the cRPGs we got on the NES were Famicom ports and adaptations that were ported back to the western market.
 
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Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Out of all of the games of that ilk I feel like the Might and Magic series is the "gentlest" - which just means it wraps a little bit of padding around the metal bar which it is using to bash your teeth out.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)


486. FIRST DEFENDER

So, Space Armada was a Space Invaders clone for the Intellivision. Nice Code ported that to the Famicom and then hacked it into this. And I should have said that when we saw this exact game as #369!



487. FISHER

Fish and alligators scroll down from the top, you need to touch the fish and avoid the alligators, because the former give points and the latter kill you. We saw this in an alternate form as Arena (#314).



488. THE LAST STAR FI

A shoot-em-up based on the film (or more accurately, a remake of Uridium for the Commodore 64 with some film-related stuff added in), but unfortunately this copy seems to be bugged—it doesn’t actually accept any player input.



489. FISH WAR

To win the fish war, you must eat smaller fish and avoid larger fish until you become the biggest fish. It’s not clear which fish are smaller than you, though, so you’ll die a lot. This is a hack of Nice Code’s port of Shark! Shark! For the Intellivision. It was also released as Exist, Hexapod War, Hungry Fish, and Shark.



490. THE NEW TYPE

A caveman bullet-hell shoot-em-up! This was released in Japan as Shin Jinrui: The New Type and in the US as Adventures of Dino Riki.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)


490. THE NEW TYPE

A caveman bullet-hell shoot-em-up! This was released in Japan as Shin Jinrui: The New Type and in the US as Adventures of Dino Riki.

I try not to be a pedant when it comes to stuff like this, but there are 0 games on the NES (even Recca, don't @ me) that qualify as "bullet hell."

More importantly, fun fact: "Dino Riki" so-named because the inspiration behind his character design was Japanese pro wrestling legend Riki Choshu, who you may also recognize from Yakuza Kiwami 2.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
I try not to be a pedant when it comes to stuff like this, but there are 0 games on the NES (even Recca, don't @ me) that qualify as "bullet hell."
Bullet heck, then? This was certainly the most bullets at any one time that I can ever recall in a NES game.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)


491. THE PENGUIN SEAL

You’re a penguin, and you need to slide ice blocks to hit the various seals before they either touch you or hit you with ice blocks. Ideally you should collect some diamonds, too. This appears to be an unlicensed game made by Sachen.



492. THEXDER

This has a "rudimentary Metroidvania" feel to it, as you play a transforming robot exploring a maze. Square did the NES port, but doesn't seem to have otherwise really been involved in the creation of this. I'm not good enough at it to really explore, but I'm tempted to try it on a platform where I can use cheat codes and see the sights.

493. BLAZE HILL

Adventure Island 3? I thought we were all out of those! That makes eight of them.



494. THROUGH MAN

You’re a man with a jetpack and a gun, and you need to get someplace really fast. (Perhaps you’re a superhero? It’s not clear.) A Nice Code creation which alternates side-scrolling stages and pseudo-3D stages. Also released as Aviator.



495. TIGER HELI

Top-down shoot-em-up; pretty decent but not hugely distinguishable from the many, many other similar games we've seen so far.
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him)
Isn't Alisia Dragoon for the Genesis basically a Thexder clone/derivative? (or is that being a touch too reductive?)
 
RT: Maybe it's reductive, but it's not inaccurate. The games are by the same developers, and the auto-laser in Thexder and auto-lightning in Alisia Dragoon are largely the same play mechanic. I'd argue that AD is a refinement of the ideas first explored in Thexder... less maze-like, more organic, and full of medieval charm while Thexder was cold and mechanical. Better level design and more polish make a big difference in the overall quality.

Another similar game is Psychic Assassin Taromaru for the Saturn, which doesn't give you direct control of your attacks but hones in on enemies almost instantly.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)


496. TOAD IN THE HOLE

A whack-a-mole game with the troublesome feature that the moles don’t react when you hit them. We saw a better version of this as BugBear (#185). It was also released as Hit-Mouse, Plush Dog and Papa Zuma.



497. FIVE DAYS

Nice Code game featuring a soldier who can’t move but can fire in five directions. We saw this as Penta Base (#364).



498. TOWEROF DRUAGA

Top-down exploration/puzzle; but we already saw this hacked into a Card Captor Sakura game (#183).



499. SOLDIER

This is a hack of Sonson (#466), replacing the sprites with a more sci-fi military theme.



500. SOLOMON S KEY

And we end on a high note, with a delightful action-puzzle game of creating and destroying blocks to rescue fairies.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
And that’s everything! It only took me 97 posts and more than three months.

Looking at my tally chart, out of 500 games listed:
  • 355 unique games appear.
  • 110 games are by Nice Code.
  • 40 games feature Mario. (Super Mario Brothers was the most common repeating game, appearing 14 times as various hacks. Super Mario 16, the hack of Joe & Mac, appeared 9 times. Wrecking Crew appeared 7 times.)
  • 19 games are copies of the four Adventure Island games. (Adventure Island 2 appeared 9 times; Adventure Island 3 appeared 8 times.)
  • The other most common game was Circus Charlie, appearing 7 times.
  • 91 games are hacks of other existing games.

If anyone was placing bets if Mario or Adventure Island would surpass the Contra 24-in-1 for most games, we have the answer: This device has the most Mario by volume.

I'm not totally done, mind you: I have a few more follow-on posts (we still need to decide on the best Nice Code game title) and things to look at. But I have, in fact, made it through the original project of cataloging every game on this device. Woohoo!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
This was a truly excellent thread, thank you for all the effort (and to everyone else who shared knowledge of obscure NES games along the way)!
 
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