Video Works by Jeremy Parish

They say you have to walk before you can run, and in Game Boy Works, we need to slog through some mediocrity before we get to the good stuff. Neither of these games is terrible by any means; Battle Bull feels like an update to Sega's Pengo or Irem's Kickle Cubicle, while Navy Blue 90 is, y'know, Battleship. However, both end up being let down by some questionable creative choices and frustrating technical issues. Neither lives up to its real potential.

I've been taking a different approach to video production while we're all hunkered down for the pandemic. Some people cope with booze or by binge-watching; I cope by making videos about games I love. Case in point: Mega Man Legends for PlayStation, which is well outside the scope of Video Works... but I'm let it kite along in the slipstream of the recent NES Mega Man retrospective. It's an incredible game—a personal favorite. So, please: Just roll with it.

I said we'd be jumping over to N64 Works, and I meant it... it's just happening, uh, gradually. In this case, we're defining the shape of N64 by what N64 was missing: Specifically, one of the biggest and most popular games of the ’90s. One part historic overview of the business politics of the N64 era, one part look back at the compelling introductory design of Final Fantasy VII's opening chapter, you'd better believe this video was basically just an excuse for me to play a classic game from outside the bounds of the Video Works project in an effort to bolster my spirits during the age of social distancing.

This week's sequence break comes to you by a patron request from Joseph Wawzonek and courtesy of Steve Lin of the Video Game History foundation: A look at the highly coveted import-only collector's item Trip World for Game Boy. SunSoft's charming platformer commands a towering reputation for its quality and its unconventional nature, even if it does come off as slight. Here I explore the origins of the game, contemplate the creative aims behind its unique design, and delight in repeatedly pronouncing its protagonist's name. Thanks again to Joseph and Steve!

By patron request of Brian Larsen, here's something a little different: Rather than look at a single game, this episode takes a wider view of NES culture and fandom, and how fans of the platform have kept the NES alive and vibrant 25 years after its retirement. From the rise of emulation to modern clone platforms, NES devotees continue to make NES accessible and surprising, as this cursory overview explains.

NES Works 1987 ends as it began: With a cool game by Capcom. But let's be real. Mega Man is much cooler than Trojan. There's a reason one series had dozens of sequels and spinoffs and the other... didn't. Capcom's first wholly original creation for NES is one of the most inventive and highly polished games on NES to date, period. With a free stage select sequence, alternate special weapons, and imaginative bosses, Mega Man stands out as a brilliant capper to an incredible year for the NES. And just think: The franchise will only get better from here, as we'll see in NES Works 1989. In, uh, a few years.