Venture is a classic arcade game released in 1981. This is a game I have never heard of or seen until I started exploring the emulation scene. I find that strange because I think this game has much more compelling gameplay than most seminal games we remember like Asteroids, Pacman and Galaga. Not to say those games aren’t good or don’t deserve credit, but Venture brings many new things to the table which are obviously under appreciated.

Gameplay

Venture has the player controlling the protagonist “Winky” as he tries to raise dungeons and steal the treasures while avoiding monsters. Windy wields a bow and arrow with unlimited arrows, although only a single arrow can be on screen at a time, and it travels pretty slowly so you need to pick your shots.

The game begins in a zoomed-out overworld and Winky is just a tiny red pixel (actually I think it’s 2×2 pixels). Each level contains five rooms which have doors Winky can enter. Also populating the overworld are the hall walkers, which looks like jellyfish and are completely immune to Winky’s weapons. They just kill you, so obviously you need to just avoid them by dipping into one of the rooms.

When you enter a room the game performs a pretty cool zoom-in transition and until Winky is normal sized and the room takes up the entire play area. Each room has a single treasure and monsters or other obstacles. The goal is to grab the treasure without dying and escape the room. If you mess around too long one of the killer jellyfish will break in and attack you, so time is of the essence. Shooting enemies will kill them, but their bodies will remain and decompose for what seems like forever. Often it seems better to just dodge them rather than kill them.

Once you collect a treasure from all five rooms the level is beaten and you move on to the next, with a fresh batch of rooms! I have personally been unable to get passed the second level although I often get close. From watching some plays on youtube I discovered that there are three unique levels and then the game loops back to a more difficult version of level two.

Graphics/Sounds

It is hard for a 1981 game to have bad graphics. They have a very stereotypical retro look and everything looks pretty charming and timeless. I would compare the graphics to Pacman the most. The background is black and all the gameplay elements are bright and colorful. The sound design in this game is absolutely hilarious. You get these small snippets of famous songs you can ALMOST put your finger on and music changes when you grab the treasure and attempt to escape the rooms which is nice. Considering most old games (Pacman, Mario Bros, Galaga) have no gameplay music at all, this is pretty awesome.

X-Factor

I find Venture very compelling because it taps into my sense of wonder. I really want to see what the next level or next room looks like. I am curious what monsters and music are waiting for me. Pacman and Galaga do not tap into that. The next level in those games are just the same thing but slightly harder. Venture keeps on bringing something new and interesting to the table. Getting good at venture is fun.

I also think it’s pretty great that this game has a narrative that makes sense. It’s basically the plot of Tomb Raider but in 1981. I can feel for Winky, I can be in the dungeon with him. The level and gameplay transitions are also very unique and give the game an extra layer of charm.

Galaga - 1/1

As far as ports go, this is really something. It might be the best port on Nintnedo. I played a good amount of Galaga in the arcade too, and this plays great. I don’t know what I can say about Galaga. The game is simple to play but challenging to master. I would say if you are a retro game collector, this is the next best thing to having an actual Galaga arcade.

how-to-download-roms

Does something look like fun? You want to check it out for yourself? There is nothing stopping you! Emulating these games is easier than ever. If you are a Mac user, go download OpenEmu right now. If you are a Windows user just go get FCEUX NES emulator. All you need now is the games.

Galactic Crusader - 0/1

The only question that really needs to be answered is: is this better than Galaga? A very good Galaga port is already on Nintendo (coming up next), so this needs to bring something new to the table. The sprites are nice and large, and there are some weapon upgrades you can pick up, which is a noticeable difference. But if I am looking for a shmup with upgrades i’ll look to better games like Crysis Force or Zanac. Unfortunately the game fails in fun-factor. It simply isn’t better than Galaga so I recommend playing that.

how-to-download-roms

Does something look like fun? You want to check it out for yourself? There is nothing stopping you! Emulating these games is easier than ever. If you are a Mac user, go download OpenEmu right now. If you are a Windows user just go get FCEUX NES emulator. All you need now is the games.

G.I.Joe Atlantis Factor - 0/1

The Atlantis factor is a totally different game, developed by a different company. Either game is a sequel to the other, which might actually have been pretty confusing for kids in the day. Imagine trying to talk to a kid at school about how awesome the “G.I.Joe” game is and being utterly baffled that your experiences don’t match? Or maybe nobody every played either of these games. Anyway, we found Capcom’s version of this franchise to be much worse. I MIGHT be wrong because we only scratched the surface of this game and we got jammed on the first boss. But the gameplay in that limited time is less fun, even though the controls seem fine and there is probably some kind of character selection. It isn’t terrible, but if you are thirsty for a G.I.Joe experience, get the Taxan version.

how-to-download-roms

Does something look like fun? You want to check it out for yourself? There is nothing stopping you! Emulating these games is easier than ever. If you are a Mac user, go download OpenEmu right now. If you are a Windows user just go get FCEUX NES emulator. All you need now is the games.

 

G.I.Joe A Real American Hero - 1/1

I was never big into G.I. Joe. Not the comic, or the cartoon and I haven’t even seen the movie. But I appreciate a team of military badasses with long history. The concept seems custom built for a badass run and gun game and looks like Taxan felt the same. I have never played or heard of this game as a child, but I wish I had. it plays like Contra but with a bunch of different characters. This game goes for about $25-35 on eBay, which … might be a reasonable price from a collector perspective, I am not sure. If you see it at a garage sale, get it!

how-to-download-roms

Does something look like fun? You want to check it out for yourself? There is nothing stopping you! Emulating these games is easier than ever. If you are a Mac user, go download OpenEmu right now. If you are a Windows user just go get FCEUX NES emulator. All you need now is the games.

 

I have fallen in love with these SHMUPS lately. Look out for more of them in this series. I feel like there is something so zen and relaxing about just dodge bullets. It’s nothing but me, the bullets and my finger movements. But can I handle this hardball game with only 20 credits!?

This game actually has more of a story than most shooters. Something about telekinetic children that have to fend off some kind of military invasion by an equally powerful telekinetic overlord. It takes place in a futuristic version of Japan I think… The setting and concept are all very much like the anime classic Akira.

There is a selection of three child prodigies and they all have slightly different firing patterns. One of the buttons fires some sort of special spray which recharge relatively quickly and the three characters aim this in different ways as well. Like many of these bullet hell games, you have a special attack which makes you invulnerable and fires a massive beam for a limited time.

If you hold down the primary fire button for a little over a second your character slows down, which might sound like it’s bad, but it’s actually great. Moving very slowly and precisely is exactly what you need much of the time. If you simply let up off the fire button you regain your max speed. It’s actually a very awesome mechanic and surprisingly easy to get used to compared to something like an actually speed change button.

I will admit I had lots of practice playing this game, although usually when I play these I only put in 1 credit because all of the top score are always called 1-Credit-Clear. Although I am not EVEN CLOSE to a 1CC, it seems like the way to play it, so I am good at the first couple of levels and then I sort of lose it. That being said, I had a pretty easy time beating this game on 20 credits.

Enjoy my run and let me know what you think about this game! If you want to see me try another game, leave me a comment.

Fun House - 1/1

Apparently this game is based on a late-eighties gameshow of the same name. Because of that, I am assuming more gameplay modes exist in this game beyond the top-down perspective objective gathering mode. Even though the controls were slightly annoying to get used to, once I got the hang of it, this game mode felt totally acceptable. If at least 3 other modes exist with similar enjoyment factor I think this is a pretty killer game!

how-to-download-roms

Does something look like fun? You want to check it out for yourself? There is nothing stopping you! Emulating these games is easier than ever. If you are a Mac user, go download OpenEmu right now. If you are a Windows user just go get FCEUX NES emulator. All you need now is the games.

 

Friday the 13th - 0/1

LJN games get a bad rap, and this is one of them. But is it really that terrible? I will go out on a limb and say not really. The game controls fine, the graphics are fine. The problem is I didn’t find it very fun. To be fair, I have seen people play this online and the game actually has some depth, and the climactic confrontations with Jason are pretty awesome. Problem is, who is going to invest that much time into a game that doesn’t grab you right away in todays world? I have to give it a 0.

jason-kills-infographic

how-to-download-roms

Does something look like fun? You want to check it out for yourself? There is nothing stopping you! Emulating these games is easier than ever. If you are a Mac user, go download OpenEmu right now. If you are a Windows user just go get FCEUX NES emulator. All you need now is the games.