Well, it is running a wee bit behind schedule, but Chrontendo Episode 11 is finished and available for download. What's in store this episode? A pretty nice selection of games, actually. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but of all the third party publishers, Konami and Hudson are the ones really putting some effort into their games. By Fall 1986, both publishers had mastered the art of original games for the Famicom, in ways that others, such as Jaleco, Sunsoft, Square, and even Namco and Taito, have not.
This episode also sees the first great game for the Famicom Disk System that was not released by Nintendo themselves. The system is slowly coming of age, with six FDS games being released this episode. By end of the year, new FDS games will be coming out one after the other.
This Episode's Winner...
Classic platformers don't get much cooler than the orginal Castlevania. Light years ahead of most other recent Famicom platformers, this Konami release combines rich graphics, atmospheric music and imaginative level design. Castlevania eschews the typical cutsey style of most post-Mario side-scrolling platform games, instead opting for a spooky, gothic horror themed game set inside a decaying, monster infested castle. Your character, Simon Belmont, makes his way through six levels, each quite different in design and with a unique boss at the end of each. The bosses are one of the most impressive elements of the game. At a time when repeated or virtually identical bosses where commonplace, each of Castlevania's bosses are completely different in appearance, attack pattern, and weakness. While some might fault the game's controls as being unforgiving, they are still massively superior to the sloppy controls found in such games as Atlantis no Nazo or Gegege no Kitaro.
Meikyuu Kumikyoku/Milon's Secret Castle
Admittedly, this Hudson release is not in the same league as Castlevania. Milon's Secret Castle is a carefully designed, cute and fun puzzlish platformer built around a musical theme. Strangely similar to Castlevania, the object of the game is to ascend floor by floor, room by room, to the top of the titular castle. Each room can only be exited by finding a sufficient quantity of hidden items. While not without flaws, Milon's Secret Castle is a quality title.
Senjou no Ookami/Commando
Capcom finally ditches Micronics and ports their 1985 arcade hit themselves. The results are not quite as impressive as you might hope, but you still end up with a pretty good vertical action game. Furthermore, Commando inaugurates the Capcom tradition of adding additional gameplay elements to console ports.
Pro Wrestling: Famicom Wrestling Association
After two previous attempts someone finally releases a decent wrestling game for the Famicom. Unsurprisingly, that someone turns out to be Nintendo themselves.
Family Trainer Athletic World
Not really a good game, but notable for debuting Bandai's Family Trainer series. These games were designed to be used with the Family Trainer mat, on which the player stood and controlled by moving around. Nintendo was apparently quite pleased with the idea, since they released it themselves in the US as the Power Pad. Curiously, Nintendo is now reviving the idea as the Wii Fit.
Less than average games:
Urusei Yatsura: Lum no Wedding Bell
Based on a popular manga/anime series, this Jaleco title was released in arcades as Momoko 120%. Not a fantastically horrible game, Urusei Yatsura is just a little on the annoying side. The fact that it's ending up in Episode 11's "bad game list" just shows the relatively high quality of the games this time around.
Sansuu 4/5+6 Toshi: Keisan Game
It's probably a little unfair to throw this quickie educational release from Tokyo Shoseki on the list, but it's actually less intereting than the previous three Sansuu games. They've even cut the number of games on each cartridge in half!
Also this episode:
Terra Cresta: Pretty decent port of this classic vertical shoot-em-up from Nichibutsu.
Buggy Popper: Port of the old arcade game known as Bump 'n' Jump in the US.
Othello: An Othello video game from the mysterious publisher Kawada.
Dead Zone: Weird text adventure game from Sunsoft. Has the distinction of being the second
Japanese text adventure game for the Famicom.
Super Star Force: Kemco's lame sequel to Star Force. Not nearly as good as Hudson's sequel to that same game.
Ginga Denshou - Galaxy Odyessy: Time traveling vertical shoot-em-up. Not as interesting as
Mississippi Satsujin Jiken: Port of Commodore 64 adventure game Murder on the Mississippi.
I am a Teacher - Teami no Kiso: The second knitting instruction game from Royal Kougyou.
Well there you have it! Go ahead and download or stream Episode 11 here.