Video Works by Jeremy Parish

It's here: The first true Game Boy collector's grail piece (and just in time for our recent "collector's bubble" episode of Retronauts - Fish Dude is not a good or memorable game, but it is very, very rare and expensive. Which is… something, I suppose. Anyway, to mark the occasion, I tried to make this episode a little different than usual. Please enjoy.

Direct download: Fish_Dude_retrospective_The_dude_abides___Game_Boy_Works_096.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 5:26pm EDT

Another HAL creation: Hole In One Golf follows up on the company's landmark MSX take on the sport, adds in a Japanese golf legend, removes the golf legend for good measure, and allows players to explore a single course with exhaustive detail (via an isometric perspective that just might have served as the basis for Kirby's Dream Course).

A strange and obscure little U.S.-only release for Game Boy in which the protagonist of equally obscure NES game Thunder & Lightning turns monsters into peaches and eats them. Developed anonymously and tied inexplicably to a completely unrelated game, this one's a real mystery. Sadly, the gameplay turns out to be far less interesting than the enigma surrounding Mr. Chin's existence.

Finally, a great-as-heck third-party Super NES game. Capcom's U.N. Squadron marks a welcome turnaround from the bumpy unpleasantness of Final Fight, with smoother gameplay, fewer conversion compromises, and smart gameplay tweaks to improve replayability. It's a high-water mark for Super NES shooters, and a game worth hunting down all these years later.

Direct download: U.N._Squadron_retrospective_Top_fun___Super_NES_Works_011.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 5:22pm EDT

By request of patron David Morton: A look back at Kirby's Dream Course. Yeah, it's way out of sequence, but that's the law that was laid down. A clever if unforgiving combination of Kirby and golf, Dream Course has flown under the Super NES fan radar for decades now. With its fresh re-release on the Super NES Classic Edition, now seems like the time to reevaluate the game… especially since its cruelest elements can be mitigated with liberal use of the Super NES mini's save states.

The Game Boy takes up its mantle as the true successor to the NES (sort of) with the first of several Nintendo R&D1-developed sequels to classic NES games: Balloon Kid, a greatly expanded (and great) reworking of Balloon Fight's "Balloon Trip" mode.

Direct download: Balloon_Kid_retrospective_99_kinder_ballons___Game_Boy_Works_093.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 8:35am EDT

Jaleco's long-running Ninja Jajamaru-kun series finally makes its debut in the U.S., and... it's very unfortunate that it does so in this form. Jajamaru's first portable has some interesting moments, but it's a total mess on the technical side and features some weirdly bizarre and hostile design choices. Oh well.

Please note: This game incorporates a flickering strobe effect that appeared to create a fifth shade of grey on Game Boy. However, in this high-definition/60fps format, it could cause issues for those with sensitivity to flashing, high-contrast color.

SunSoft gives Europe an unremarkable but perfectly decent adaptation of formula one racing… roughly two months before Nintendo releases its own revolutionary take on the sport.

In the second of this three-part look at Super Mario 64 and Nintendo's leap into 3D game design, we explore what Mario's polygonal upgrade took from his sprite-based adventures… and where this pioneering work left room for improvements.

The creme de la creme of the chess world? Well, maybe so far as Super NES chess games go; it's easy to come out on top when you're the only one in the running. But The Chessmaster doesn't leave much of an impression. There are better chess simulations, and more satisfying chapters in this particular series, on other platforms. This is like the board game equivalent of a vintage franchise sports game: It probably sold well to a general audience at the time, but it offers very little return for anyone today to return to it.

It's Space Harrier action in an F-Zero wrapper with this forgotten shoot-em-up by Nintendo mainstays HAL. A slight game, it's nevertheless memorable for its trippy visuals… and notable for its secret true-3D mode.

Unfortunately, the visuals in this game don't really play well with YouTube's compression algorithms… so, my apologies for the rather rough look of this episode.

America's most undying game show makes its handheld debut, simplifying the TV show's format and rules for head-to-head portable play. It also simplifies the TV theme to a single audio channel. While barely passable as a work of programming, the fundamental appeal inherent in the show's mix of luck, strategy, and word puzzles allows this to be a mildly diverting little cartridge regardless.

With Super Mario Odyssey just around the corner, now seems a perfect time to look back to Mario's first 3D adventure: Super Mario 64 for Nintendo 64. This, the first part of a multiple-entry retrospective, explores the game's relationship to the platform and the lengths to which it goes to make the intricacies of navigating three-dimensional space intuitive for all players.

Irem's classic shooter series makes its debut on a Nintendo home console at last with a remixed conversion of R-Type II. And it's… OK. Riddled with slowdown and hilariously unfair, Super R-Type really has quite a lot in common with Gradius III. Not a terrible game, but a little bit of a letdown.

Direct download: Super_R-Type_retrospective_Bydo_your_time___Super_NES_Works_008.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01am EDT

The Super NES gets its very first RPG, borrowed from the European PC scene, and it's pretty weird! Intriguingly weird, but weird all the same. For example: it's a 3D RPG that uses a flat scrolling visual effect but doesn't make use of Mode 7. What a strange little adventure.

Direct download: Drakkhen_retrospective_Hak_hak_n_slash___Super_NES_Works_007.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 7:59am EDT

Capcom arrives half-heartedly on Super NES with a deeply flawed conversion of arcade smash Final Fight. Missing stages, characters, and play options, this 16-bit debut looked nice in magazines, but didn't play nearly as impressively as Nintendo's own releases.

Direct download: Final_Fight_retrospective_Going_it_alone___Super_NES_Works_006.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Konami makes its Super NES debut (and so soon on this channel after their first NES game!) with the third Gradius game, and the second to make its way to the U.S.: Gradius III, a verrrrry sloooow adaptaaaation of a murderous arcade game. While it doesn't show off Nintendo's shiny new Super NES hardware to the most flattering effect, the constant, all-consuming slowdown actually does have its share of beneficial side effects....

Direct download: Gradius_III_retrospective_Life_at_half-speed___Super_NES_Works_005.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 8:09am EDT

We resume a retrospective journey through the Super NES's 1991 U.S. lineup with this wonderful adaptation of the Maxis PC classic SimCity. Developed by Nintendo and Intelligent Systems, SimCity showed off a different side of the Super NES.

Also in this episode: An explanation of the change in name from Mode Seven to Super NES Works.

Direct download: SimCity_retrospective_Civic_responsibilities___Super_NES_Works_004.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 7:59am EDT

A real blast(-off) from the past here, with Pack-In Video's oddball rendition of classic computer simulation Lunar Lander... or more likely Atari's arcade rendition of the concept. There has never been another adaptation of Lunar Lander quite like this before, though... especially the parts where you dodge aliens while plundering the moon's resources.

And here we arrive at last at the end of NES Works 1986. Thankfully, we've saved the best for last. Gradius turns the tables on the NES's woeful early third-party days, presenting a cutting-edge contemporary arcade shooter with a minimum of compromises. It's not arcade-perfect, but it's every bit as satisfying as the original Gradius — a promising sign for new NES publisher Konami, who jumps immediately to the front of the console race with this debut release.

Direct download: Gradius_retrospective_A_stellar_finish___NES_Works_035.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 8:53am EDT

The penultimate NES release of 1986 finds Data East once again struggling to find its voice as a console publisher. Karate Champ takes a seminal arcade release and turns it into an NES dud best forgotten, despite appearing on the surface to be a largely faithful conversion. It's all in the details....

Direct download: Karate_Champ_retrospective_Weak_jab___NES_Works_034.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 8:51am EDT

Capcom brings its NES development in-house with its third NES release, Commando, and nothing will ever be the same again. A fairly straightforward shoot-em-up offers a perfect trial run for the factors that will help propel the company to the upper echelons of NES development: Rock-solid technical underpinnings and home-exclusive content.

Direct download: Commando_retrospective_A_rapid_assault_of_quality___NES_Works_033.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 8:50am EDT

The second (and, as it happens, final) Micronics/Capcom joint for NES falls upon the cruel arcade torture implement known as Ghosts ’N Goblins. While it's a more technically competent port than 1942, the trademark Micronics jank makes a tough game even more brutal. You'll notice this video doesn't contain any footage captured beyond the second boss, and that is because I have better things to do with my life than dash my brains repeatedly against the torture implement that is this game. Anyway! Things get better from here.

Yet another old PC game makes its way to Game Boy: First Star's Boulder Dash. It loses the custom level builder and gains a new art style, but otherwise this is a faithful (and perfectly decent) conversion of a computer gaming classic for the small screen. Again.

Direct download: Boulder_Dash_retrospective_A_fine_PC_vintage___Game_Boy_Works_089.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 7:24am EDT

By Patron request, here's a "controversial game": An unlicensed and slightly smutty American game that became straight-up porn when Japanese publisher Hacker International got ahold of it. And to further tempt the fates, they sold it with packaging that made it look like a Mario game starring Princess Peach. Some men want to watch the world burn; myself, I'd settle for burning this janky excuse for an NES game.

Special thanks as well to Steve Lin and the Video Game History Foundation for lending me access to this rare game in order to create this project video!

One of the all-time great Nintendo third-party publishers makes its debut on NES here, but this release — produced by infamous low-grade development contractor Micronics — offers little to hint at the greatness we could eventually come to expect from the Capcom name.

Direct download: 1942_retrospective_Capcoms_disaster_at_sea___NES_Works_031.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 7:21am EDT

Yet another game by TOSE and Bandai based on a Japanese manga and anime property. Oh noooo! But wait. Ninja Kid is actually... kinda good? Like, legit fun in an old-school arcade sort of way, with varied level objectives and play styles, and a pretty decent power-up system. Maybe this whole "NES third party content" thing isn't doomed to trash-tier video game hell after all....

The NES gets its third third-party title, its second wrestling game, and yet another trash fire to burn away into the night. This may be the worst NES release yet thanks to its bizarre and poorly handled rendition of pro wrestling. But at least it gave us some memes.

Direct download: Tag_Team_Wrestling_retrospective_The_NES_gets_jobbed___NES_Works_029.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 7:43am EDT

The NES's second third-party release came to us courtesy of the same companies behind M.U.S.C.L.E., but thankfully it wasn't quite so dire. It's certainly not great, but there seems to have been a modicum of competence and even creativity behind it — this, despite its basis in another anime license.

Thanks to Steve Lin for use of the boxed copy of the game!

Direct download: Chubby_Cherub_retrospective_Fallen_angel___NES_Works_028.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 7:42am EDT

The NES gets its very first game from a third-party publisher, and... it really makes you pine for relative classics like Urban Champion and Stack-Up. TOSE and Bandai assault the sense with this vaguely wrestling-like brawler based on the M.U.S.C.L.E. Things toyline and Kinnikuman anime. The Nintendo Seal of Quality finds itself stretched to the breaking point in its very first outing.

While far from perfect (check out that abominable frame rate!), this adaptation of Capcom's popular platformer based on Disney's DuckTales cartoon is without question the best NES-to-Game Boy conversion we've yet seen on Game Boy Works. Demonstrating smart choices in terms of sprite art, level design, and mechanics, it's a fantastic port hampered only by a few instances of iffy programming. Once again, Capcom gets it when it comes to Game Boy.

Wrapping up Game Boy Works' solid month of sports titles, we have the most leisurely of the bunch: Data East's Side Pocket. Despite lacking a few features found in other ports of the game, this is a well-crafted take on billiards — albeit quite an unforgiving one.

Direct download: Side_Pocket_retrospective_Add_to_cue___Game_Boy_Works_087.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 7:38am EDT

Created by Human Entertainment and following on the heels of Nintendo's Pro Wrestling and the legendary Fire Prowrestling franchise, HAL Wrestling is regarded by some as the high point of pro wrestling games on Game Boy. There are plenty more to come, though, so it looks like the genre peaked early…

Direct download: HAL_Wrestling_retrospective_A_Human_work___Game_Boy_Works_086.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 7:37am EDT

The Game Boy gets its third baseball title, unsurprisingly making the so-called "thinking man's sport" also the most prolific "gaming boy's sport" as well. You may know this franchise better as R.B.I. Baseball, but since that particular bit of branding had become associated with unlicensed provocateurs attempting to undermine Nintendo's lock on the U.S. market, publisher Bandai unsurprisingly went with the different title.

By request, a look at another cult favorite Konami game that never made its way west. Arumana no Kiseki (The Miracle of Almana) will remind you of a lot of different Konami NES games... and of a certain movie franchise, too. It's not quite polished enough to have made its way to the U.S., but you can definitely see Konami's 8-bit prowess at work here.

Konami follows up on its popular NES conversion of EA skating sim Skate or Die with a game that has almost nothing to do with the source material aside from the use of skateboards. While not an entirely successful game, thanks largely to its memorization-heavy design, it is at least one of the more interesting original projects we've seen for the platform so far.

Direct download: Skate_or_Die_Bad_N_Rad.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 8:33am EDT

Don't let the weird name fool you: This is totally a Bomberman game. In fact, it's one of the first Bomberman titles to have evolved the series beyond the basic maze action design, incorporating an adventure element, an economy, and a smartly balanced customizable power-up scheme. Weird that such an important entry in the long-running franchise would be hidden away behind an unrelated name… but that's the choppy localization history of Bomberman for ya.

We wrap our look at the second wave of Nintendo's Black Box launch titles for the NES with a notable capstone: Gumshoe. Besides being one of the most inventive concepts for a shooter ever, Gumshoe also has the distinction of being the first NES game designed exclusively for the U.S. (and European) market. Too bad it's so punishingly difficult most American kids never saw the ending! Or even stage 2!

A shamelessly derivative Nintendo game? Yeah, these things do happen. But even if Balloon Fight looks suspiciously similar to a certain other game, it has a heck of a legacy... and it's totally a blast, thanks to its fluid, fast-paced action, two-player co-op, and fantastic Balloon Trip mode. It's one of the good ones.

Nintendo's very first entry into the brawler genre was in some respects a landmark work, but it doesn't hold up well at all more than 30 years later — especially in light of the fact that Nintendo released the NES version of Kung-Fu a few months prior in the U.S. Whoops!

Donkey Kong bids a surprisingly hasty adieu to the console expressly designed to showcase his exploits. Donkey Kong 3 would be the final game dedicated to the big ape util 1994. And not really the most impressive swan song.

Mario recovers from his brief descent into villainy and lays down the groundwork for the platforming concepts that would make him (and his green sibling) long-term fixture of video gaming. But the difference in timing between the game's arrival in Japan and the west created a tremendous gulf in public perception of this arcade classic...

A look into the history of a game that almost was something completely different, in a sense: Nintendo's Popeye, the held-over take on the arcade platformer that Donkey Kong was meant to be. Sort of. It's an interesting slice of Nintendo history, as we wrap the NES releases of the company's trio of Famicom launch titles.

The companion piece to Donkey Kong, this pint-sized (not really) sequel showed up on both Famicom — and NES three years later! — day-and-date with dad. The two make a tidy pair, though for various small reasons, Jr. doesn't quite live up to his vaunted papa's legacy. These minor quibbles don't keep Nintendo's second chapter in the Mario and Donkey Kong legacy from meriting some praise, though!

A legendary developer still finding its voice gives us a remarkable, but not particularly good, take on table tennis. Somehow, a ping pong game from 1990 arguably offers players even less control over the action than Pong did! But it looks pretty nice, at least.

This video is made possible through support on Patreon:

More songs about buildings and kongs. The origins of Donkey Kong, and how his NES version came about and compared to other adaptations of the game. And now we can move along to... other Donkey Kong games.

The first entry in a two-part look back at the most important game of Nintendo's early days, Donkey Kong. This half of the retrospective focuses on the design of the game and why it stood out from its arcade peers to become such a phenomenon.

Note: I realize there's an error in the script (re: Space War), but I was unable to go back and correct it — I'm currently suffering from a severe cold and have no voice. (It's a lucky break that I recorded the voiceover for this in advance.)

Yep, it's another Game Boy release based on an anime, and you know what that means: The game itself is pretty lousy and forgettable, so the episode mostly consists of me waxing rhapsodic about the property itself. Patlabor was great, and deserved a MUCH nicer interactive adaptation. But such is the world we live in.