Every few months I make the trek back to my hometown to visit family and friends. This weekend was one such time. I always try and visit my friend Jay when I go home, we’ve known each other for a long time and always have fun together. Jay happens to collect everything gaming related under the sun so when I go over there we always end up playing some really old games. He’s got games from every system generation and every system to go with it. It’s kind of like a museum over there, complete with a working Panasonic 3DO. This weekend we played Super Ghosts and Goblins and Earthworm Jim on whatever this thing is. It plays a whole slew of cartridges with the only downside being the sound is a little distorted.
Playing so many retro inspired 2D indie games, I’m always a little surprised how familiar actual retro games are when I get a chance to play them. Most of them are fun to see how far games have come. There is always that moment when you run into some piece of archaic game play or UI but for the most part these older games aren’t as alien or a simplistic as I thought they’d be.
Super Ghosts and Goblins is one of those games that wold fall into the Metroidvania category. Jay’s convinced that this games name should also be part of the genres name but Metroidvaniagoblins just doesn’t roll off the tongue. There are chests you find throughout each level that contain new weapons and armor. You can only have one weapon and armor equipped at a time so you have to choose if its worth giving up your current ones for new ones. When you get hit you lose your armor, get hit twice and your dead. It’s hard, even on normal difficulty it’s hard but the platforming and the enemies are fair. There’s a life system and once you lose all of them you have to use a continue. This ends up not being that bad as you can give yourself 9 lives for every continue and your given 7 continues…that’s a lot of lives to go through. We ended up playing about an hour of it before we gave up and moved on.
Super Ghost and Goblins felt like a rouge-lite without procedural generated levels. When you die you have to start over but not completely. You keep the last weapon you used and sometimes there are check points. You have to go through the whole level again this time with different armor and weapons dropping from the chests. It’s also just hard enough that I felt like it was a challenge without being unfair.
The other game we played was Earth Worm Jim which was definable an experience. I’m not sure if there’s some back story in the manual but as far as I can tell I was playing a space worm with arms and a gun. We only played the first level and what a level it was. Being chased down by garbage bats, being attacked by junk dogs, and bouncing on old tires. The level boss was a garbage can that would upper cut me into the stratosphere if I got too close. It’s one of those games that left me wondering how exactly did someone think this up. Its a game I’d like to return to on my next trip up there but it’s a game I can only play in small doses. It has great art and colors and feels like playing a Saturday morning cartoon. It also reminds me of a random 5 dollar Steam game you buy on sale because it looks ridiculous.