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

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Woah, Kickmaster Gun Nac and Shadow of the Ninja?

Whoever was randomly slapping together a list of Roms for this thing really knew what they were doing


Slam Master
(he, etc.)
(I don't know which of the two soccer games is that one, for the record)

The first one (Hot-Blooded High School Dodgeball Club Soccer) is Nintendo World Cup. The second one (Kunio-kun's Hot-Blooded Soccer) was left in Japan.

Also, the weird localization and oddly realistic box art, etc, are because Nintendo published it. To go back to that Nintendo World Cup/Super Spike V'Ball combo cart, the reason that exists is because Nintendo packed it in with the "Sports Set," a riff on "Action Set," etc., which included the Satellite (and not the Four Score for some weird reason).

Ghost from Spelunker

Also, I always used to re-choose my team against India until they took Swami out. Good grief is he a pain to kill. That sky-high defense stat is no joke.

Yeah, Swami had ridiculous defense. But I found out as an adult fighting him is not so bad because the game uses integers. Just give the ball to the guys on the outside and keep pelting him with the lamest shots and he still takes 1 damage (which is probably what he takes from special throws).

Also, you can do a super shot. If you start in the middle, go towards the enemy goal (let's assume it's on the right side of the field). After some steps right, move a bit diagonally down-right, then right for a short bit, diagonally up-right and some more steps right. Sounds longer than it is, two steps in each direction should be enough.

You shot will throw every player who touches to ball physically away. Including the goal keeper. Until exactly the second half of the tournament, were the goalies will suddenly always start to catch the ball.

I remember the Nintendo Power 4 Player Extra Guide saying every country had to dribble the ball a certain number of steps to do a super shot, and after enough super shots in one half you had to do more steps. It seemed to work.


hardcore retro gamin'
Oh, yeah, good point. I do think there are a couple of super shots that can do two damage - both Sam's jumping super and Randy's do, if memory serves.

Speaking of Randy's jumping super, I love that shot. The screen wraparound is absolutely hilarious. And depending on where they end up, they can often be in a prime spot for another retaliation, if the other team moves too fast and gives you the ball back before they've recovered.


Son of The Answer Man
This thing might be the best ten dollars ever spent
It's entirely likely! I haven't even managed to run the battery down yet, and I'm ten posts and 50+ games in.



I’m not sure I’ve seen an arcade port that chibi-ified the characters before. I give them a lot of credit that while it feels “less serious” than the arcade game, it’s eminently playable with a nice variety of moves and plenty of screen real estate to dance around enemies in. I don’t think five lives would ever get me through the whole thing, but it still feels kinder than some of the other ported quarter-munchers.

Fun side note: The music that plays in the main menu of this device when you’re choosing games is from the first stage of this game!



This seems to be a down-port of an actual Street Fighter game. It’s really hard—I couldn’t get any moves to work (the AI fighter just spams them), hitboxes are weird and you only have two buttons to work with.



The game is actually called Astyanax, but it sounds like he’s a 5th-dimentional imp either way. I always wanted to like this game more than I actually did: It’s a side-scroller beat-em-up starring a knight with an axe and also magic spells. (And a ridiculous name.) It’s totally up my alley! But the controls are lousy and the physics are weird and the screen is too crowed by the giant sprites.



Mitsume ga Tooru is apparently a Japan-only game based on a manga called The Three-Eyed One. It’s a shooter-platformer, and in some ways it reminds me of Rockin’ Kats: You can charge a specialty weapon (a boomeranging spear you can use as a platform) to solve puzzles, and you collect coins to spend at shops between stages on recovery items and fancier versions of your basic bullets.


hardcore retro gamin'
Whoever put this thing together knew what they were doing. So many of these games so far are fantastic.

Mighty Final Fight is one of my favorite brawlers. It's surprising how well it made the jump to NES. I think I actually prefer it overall to the original game! (Sacrilege, I know.)

Astyanax comes from the creator of The Legendary Axe. I know a lot of folks don't like it as much, but I appreciate that it isn't as difficult as that game.

Mitsume Ga Tooru falls into the hidden gem category. Most folks aren't aware of it because it didn't come out over here, but it's part of that period where Natsume was knocking it out of the park with action games like Shatterhand, Shadow of the Ninja, Power Blade, and S.C.A.T. It's one of my favorite platformers on the NES.


Son of The Answer Man
I went back and played Ninja Gaiden 3 all the way through…on Nestopia, with cheat codes and save states. Two things stuck in my head: One was that they put nice big plot reveals at the end of every level, which given how much trouble it was to reach and beat the later levels, meant you were getting a reward each time. It’s not just “Oh, quick, chase him to the castle!” It’s “There’s a clone of Ryu!” or “Irene is alive!” or “There’s a giant dimensional warship!” The stakes really get raised each time. Which leads me into the second thought: This game is batshit loco.

(Honestly, while this device is absolutely amazing for $10, one of the things I really love about my RG350 is the ability to enter cheat codes and use save states…though some emulators make the easier than others. Gambette is my current favorite of the OpenDingux emulator suite.)



This is an action/puzzle game like Bubble Bobble; you need to hit enemies with snow to turn them into big snowballs you and roll into each other. There seem to be power-ups but I couldn’t actually figure out what they did. And I thought I had the knack of it (you get plenty of extra lives) until I reached the boss stage, which was really nasty. I can’t find any documentation, but was this connected to the MegaTen series in any way? The snow brothers and the flying pumpkin that shows up when you take too long on a stage resemble mascot characters from those games.



Standard side-scroller media tie-in. Batman punches dudes, lacking any “wonderful toys” including batarangs. I appreciate the fact that he’s got a neat wall-jump ability; I don’t appreciate that using it in the first area seems to be entirely pointless.



A weirdly-named side-scrolling shooter where you have the option of playing as a helicopter (which moves in two dimensions) or as a jeep (which can only move along the ground and jump over obstacles, but can change its angle of fire). Apparently it has a boss sequence and ending; I didn’t make it far enough to see anything change.


(I’m entertained by the plot, though!)



It’s Bubble Bobble 2, which strongly resembles every other Bubble Bobble game; you trap enemies in bubbles, pop them so they transform into food, then devour them.



The top-down adventure of a commando who shoots his way into an encampment to rescue hostages as shoot lots of dudes. The hostages are very hard to tell from the enemies on a small screen; they really needed to be more colorfully distinctive. Apparently the Japanese title of this was Guevara, and it starred Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. I suspect that two-player co-op would be super fun with this game, especially since it apparently has unlimited continues.


Lapsed Threadcromancer
The Batman game does indeed have wonderful toys. I believe the select button is how you select them. And you can use the wall climbing ability near the beginning of the first stage to get through part of it faster.


I cuss you bad
Yeah, Batman is a very good game. Sunsoft were incredible on the NES and Batman is a good example of their skill.

This cheapy handheld has a disgustingly good selection, they really seem to have known their stuff.


hardcore retro gamin'
Batman is definitely the best of this lot. Utterly fantastic. And as already mentioned, you do get some toys: batarangs, a missile gun, and a sort of spreading triple shot. They use 1, 2, and 3 ammo respectively. This game is weird, though, in that the Start button toggles the weapon, and Select actually pauses the game.

Also, dat music.


Me and My Bestie
(He, him)


Japanese title screen, but English robot names. Odd. (I was never great at classic Mega Man. I take too many hits and there aren’t enough health drops.) If you’re only going to have one Mega Man game, this doesn’t feel like a bad choice, from what I know of the series.
The Robot Master names are displayed in English in the original Japanese version.

Ghost from Spelunker

Silkworm on NES is a great port of the arcade game. They added new bosses, a revised final level and boss, and cutscenes.
And thanks to the NES limitations they had to shrink the Mega Man 7-sized graphics down to something shooter-friendly.
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Son of The Answer Man
The Batman game does indeed have wonderful toys. I believe the select button is how you select them. And you can use the wall climbing ability near the beginning of the first stage to get through part of it faster.
Ah, okay--I think part of the problem was not knowing to press start (select is pause) to switch to the Batarang, and part was not being able to distinguish the enemy drops on the small screen. The "B" blocks...do something? The little missile blocks are ammo.

Oh you simply must explore the NGPC library at some point
What's NGPC?

Does anyone have any idea why Silkworm is named that? I have no idea how that relates to the subject matter.

Ghost from Spelunker

Does anyone have any idea why Silkworm is named that? I have no idea how that relates to the subject matter.
Silkworm is the code name of a top secret defense program you are in to stop the evil MHC2 supercomputer.
Some of the enemy missiles they launch at you also have the Silkworm brand name (MH Silkworm and C2 Silkworm), or they have MH or C2 in the vehicle names. I am guessing the MHC2 is remotely controlling the world's weapons against you.
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Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
I appreciate the fact that he’s got a neat wall-jump ability; I don’t appreciate that using it in the first area seems to be entirely pointless.
There's a very important point: it's a consequence-free area to practice it. And, as a kid, I practiced the hell out of it there, because wall jumps were a crazy new thing to me and I was bad at them.


hardcore retro gamin'
Not entirely pointless - you can use it to bypass the vertical climb with all the flamethrower guys to the right. The game demands mastery of the wall jump or you'll never see the end. (One could even argue that perhaps it requires too much mastery - there are some ridiculous wall jumps you have to pull to avoid damage. I still love the game, though.)

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
I remain convinced that Sunsoft had a bunch of ready-made games good to go that they could slap different licenses into if they needed to with little effort;

Except for the main character and the first level, nothing about the Batman game ties into the Batman movie, and both Solar Man and Journey to Silius were pretty clearly supposed to be based on Superman and Terminator based on a lot of the content in them


hardcore retro gamin'
With Batman, it wouldn't surprise me if it were another game and then made into a licensed game. With Journey to Silius and Sunman, both of those were originally licensed games, but lost the license some time during development, so they had to rebrand to not waste the work.

Another game I'm convinced that a license was slapped on was Willow on NES. And another where I know it happened was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which was originally "The Legend of Robin Hood" before being shoehorned into the movie license.
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????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
With Journey to Silius and Sunman, both of those were originally licensed games, but lost the license some time during development, so they had to rebrand to not waste the work.
Interesting. So what were the licenses that those games were originally based on?


Son of The Answer Man
This is such fascinating stuff, and I'm happy to spark the discussion!



This has a decent rhythm to the combat, but Viper’s limited bullets make me concerned; and he takes those two hits of touch-damage very easily—once enemies start shooting, I’m total toast.


61. POW

A beat-em-up I was unfamiliar with. I appreciate the fact that a gun is one of the things you can pick up to fight with (and it just has a set number of three-round bursts loaded), and the first boss requires you pick up dropped grenades to throw at a helicopter. Other than that, it could easily by a Final Fight game. (I also appreciate the idea that you’re starting unarmed specifically because you’re an escaped POW. Too many games would send the commandos tasked with rescuing those prisoners in without any guns or grenades.)



This is Altered Beast! It’s kind of hilariously minimalist, but the beast form is, well, a beast. Once you’re powered-up, you can throw fireballs and power-charge across the screen. It completely changes the gameplay. I don’t think this version of the game was ever localized; and that’s okay. The NES couldn’t handle “RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE”.



A terrible wrestling game. Apparently this was released stateside as Tag Team Match: M.U.S.C.L.E. It’s an arcade-style endless wrestling sim and frankly I found the Japanese-text Hot Blood Wrestling more playable.


hardcore retro gamin'
Code Name: Viper was Capcom's Rolling Thunder, appropriately developed by Arc System Works (yes, that Arc), who also developed the Famicom port of Rolling Thunder. It's pretty good, but yeah, very tough.

I've always liked P.O.W. a lot. I remember the Walmart closest to us having that machine for a while, and I'd watch it on attract mode (or occasionally get lucky if someone over-fed credits). The NES port is pretty solid for what it is, too.

M.U.S.C.L.E. is traaaash. It was based on a line of toys from the '80s, one that I only barely remember.