Tag Archives: Videogame

Retro Game Review – “Battle Chess” for NES

Game Title: Battle Chess
Game System: NES

Graphics: 7 / 10
Gameplay: 8 / 10
Replay Value: 8 / 10
Difficulty: For casual chess players, there is more than enough of a challenge here.

This chess game is solely responsible for my wanting a blue and red chess set, due to the colors of the two sides in the game. Sadly, such a chess set would be mostly for show, as I’m not terribly interested in chess – please keep in mind that I’m reviewing this game as a mildly interested beginner at chess.

The graphics offer 2D and 3D modes. The 2D mode has a quicker feel due to a lack of animations, and the chess pieces have a nice clean look. It’s the 3D look, however, that inspired my imagination playing this game as a kid. Every time a move is made the pieces slowly (and I do mean really slowly) walk to their new destination. If they take a piece as part of the move, a short 10-second animation is shown of them fighting one another.

These 3D fight scenes are cool, but the sluggish pace of moving pieces in the 3D setting can make you really, really want to switch to the 2D mode and its more responsive feel. There are a host of sounds that accompany the 3D mode and add some nice atmosphere generally lacking in chess games.

Due to my lack of chess skills I only play on the “novice” difficulty setting, and there are a number of levels beyond that. The NES’ humble processor performance is obvious when the computer will sometimes think for 5 or more seconds before making a move – but it’s generally not enough of a delay to become truly annoying. You can also play in a two-player mode instead of playing the computer.

Overall a fun chess game with more than enough difficulty for beginners and beyond.

Retro Game Review – “Dr. Mario” for NES

Game Title: Dr. Mario
Game System: NES

Graphics: 8 / 10
Gameplay: 8 / 10
Replay Value: 9 / 10
Difficulty: Varies by level from simple to more or less impossible

Bright, colorful graphics, 8-bit looping soundtracks that never seem to get old, and addictive gameplay – Dr. Mario has all the elements of a great NES game.

Let’s start with the familiar comparison to Tetris that all similar puzzle games undergo: yes, rotatable items falling from the top of the screen must be matched up in certain ways to score points and proceed through the game. In the case of Dr Mario, the point is not to eliminate falling block shapes – rather, the falling “pills” are used to neutralize and remove viruses – colorful, squirming humanoid creatures. When any four pill halves and/or viruses of the same color are matched together, they’re eliminated and the player scores points. Even four pill halves can eliminate each other, without any viruses being affected.

Generally it’s easier to match four vertically, as the pills can always be stacked up vertically – but once in awhile a horizontal match occurs and adds some variety. When four are matched, any pill pieces that are no longer “anchored” on a stack of items fall down and settle on whatever is below them.

You lose the game if the falling pills reach the top of the “bottle”-shaped container that the gameplay takes place in, obstructing further pill pieces from falling into the playing field.

The first few levels are good for learning the rules and strategy of the game, but the midrange of the levels are the most fun. The most difficult parts of each level are the start and finish: the start because there isn’t much room from the top viruses to the top of the playing field, and the finish because lots of pill pieces can build up and accumulate on various corners, as well as the wrong color pills ending up on differently colored viruses.

While higher levels have more viruses, there is a certain advantage to having more viruses of similar colors next to each other – making it easier to match multiple viruses while using fewer pill pieces.

There are a few nice graphical touches, including a magnifying lens that shows close-ups of the viruses as they’re being defeated, and Mario on the other side of the screen, tossing each pill into the playing field. You can see which pill is up next at any time, as Mario holds onto it for a bit before tossing it into the bottle.

Overall, a great game that is, in my opinion, better than Tetris, and a great deal of fun.